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What is your pace when working?

The first reaction to this question is to mention a pace that’s fast, really fast. But beware, because that’s not necessarily the answer interviewers want to hear. While a slow worker who can’t meet deadlines isn’t desirable, neither is someone who works in a rush all day every day. Most employers want workers who maintain an even, steady, reasonable pace.

Another element of pace is quality vs. quantity. When employers are faced with workers who work too quickly, they wonder who pays the price.

The best answers to this question involve a number of elements.

  • Mention a steady pace with an emphasis on quality
  • Discuss managing tasks and completing them on or ahead of schedule
  • Give examples, if they exist, from previous jobs

Emphasize Care:
“I think of myself as diligent about my job. That means not only getting things done on time, but doing them right. If something isn’t done well it doesn’t much matter if it’s on schedule. At my last job we had a big holiday project that had to be done by December 1, on time for the Christmas push. I knew we wouldn’t make it without sacrificing quality, so I requested more resources. With a few temporary hires, we made it, and quality didn’t suffer.”

The key to completing projects on time is planning, not a break neck pace. That doesn’t mean a good worker can’t turn on the jets when its needed.

Not Slow, But Steady:
“I’ve learned that most big projects aren’t a sprint, they’re a marathon. Planning is like my training, so I can work at a pace that reaches the goal while not burning me, or others, out. I find that with myself, and with people who work for me, if we find a pace and stick to it, when a little more is required we can do it. Constant impossible deadlines mean constant turnover. I had a job once with a boss that constantly pushed people to work faster, then complained when there were mistakes. We were always replacing people that quit. I talked with her about it, and she toned it down a little. She went from near bankruptcy to pretty decent success.”

Well Managed:
“I am well known for coming in ahead of deadlines without having to rush. In fact, someone once asked me how I could take vacation time during a big holiday push. I told them I work hard to plan, and I hire good people who can do the job. Then I don’t have to sweat at crunch time.”

Remember – steady pace, meet goals, give examples.

Too bad the person who gave this answer didn’t know these things. “When I work somewhere you better get out of my way, I’m always running.”

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