Posts Tagged ‘interview technique’

What counts as ‘conflicting priorities’ and how do I answer that question?

Often, in applications and at interview you get asked this question – ‘How have you dealt with conflicting priorities?’ or a variation of this question. But what does the employer want to hear?


The question is designed to test your organisational and prioritising abilities – how do you problem solve or deal with demanding deadlines? The employer seeks for you to demonstrate strategic thinking and your ability to understand business objectives, in relation to your own, which should inform how you organise yourself.

Before you can answer this question – think of an example. An easy one is you’re working part time whilst studying. Your manager asks you to come in and do extra work but you also have an important upcoming assessment deadline. You want to facilitate a positive relationships with your manager but simultaneously your degree is extremely  important too.How do you deal with such conflicting priorities?

The answer will of course be your own. You could walk the employer through your thinking and logic when making decisions. It could be that you explain that education is important but your work ethic means a lot to you so you come in to do the extra hours but you then time manage effectively and spend time in the library to complete your assessment to a high standard. I sadly can’t answer the question for you – you’d have to think of an example for yourself.

The key in answering this question is explaining effectively your thinking process behind your actions. For example, some people refer to The Eisenhower Decision Matrix, as below


Overall, there is no right or wrong answer. All the employer wants to hear from you is a clear explanation of how you deal with pressure/a deadline. As a student, there will be countless examples of conflicting deadlines you’ve faced. Always make sure you walk them through your rationale and thinking of dealing with such situations. The end result for them is to be satisfied that you will be able to withstand pressure and it’s something you’ve dealt with before. The employer wants to be confident that you can work independently and self-manage – so simply assure them of it, using excellent communication skills (whether in an interview or an application) and an appropriate example.

Finally, always talk about the result. So if we come back to my work vs university example – a good way to finish that answer is ‘I achieved a good grade for that assignment, whilst submitting it on time. I also did 6 hours extra work that weekend and my manager was very pleased with the service I delivered’. You therefore demonstrate that your excellent strategic logical thinking lead to a positive outcome. How can an employer resist such a high calibre candidate?


Kristina Tamane is the Careers Adviser for the School of Life and Medical Sciences and the Joint Honours Programme. You’re welcome to follow her on Twitter or Pinterest for varied job posts and general advice and updates.

How to deal with with difficult interview questions

Question: ‘How many square feet of pizza are eaten in the UK every year?’

Careers, Employment & Enterprise Adviser, Donald Lush, explains the best way to deal with those ‘curve ball’ questions at an interview.

For more information and other resources on interviews, please search for the keyword ‘Interviews’ under the resources section of CareerHub.

You can book an appointment to speak with an adviser about interviews by calling us on 01707 284791.

Filling the unfilled vacancies

06/02/2015 2 comments

By Jack Regan, Careers Assistant

graduate job market

For those of you in your final year the end of university life is getting ever closer. All you’re hearing about is how competitive the graduate job market is and there are X amount of people going for one position, making it look like a seemingly tough task to get the job you want.

However, according to High Fliers annual review 2015, the largest growth in vacancies is expected in the public sector, accounting and professional services, as well as banking, finance and retail. More notable however, according to the Association of Graduate Recruiters, is that 23% of employers at the beginning of 2014 had unfilled graduate vacancies. Despite numerous applications for the roles, they could not find the right people with the right knowledge, skills and attitudes for the job. This tells us that regardless of the number of people applying for the same graduate job, there is the possibility that no one will get the job at end of the recruitment process. Certainly a missed opportunity for whoever applied for those roles.

Don’t let that happen! Take your time when writing up an application and completing any online tests. Practise your interview techniques beforehand, research the company and every aspect of the work you could potentially be doing for them. Project the image they want and show why you are the perfect candidate to fill that graduate vacancy. The only person you are in competition with is yourself, so be the best you can be on the day and that unfilled graduate vacancy won’t be unfilled for long.

If you do have interviews coming up CEE can help you with interview practice. You can use our online service, Interview Stream, or you can book an appointment with a Careers Adviser through CareerHub to work on your face to face technique. We can also help with application writing and online tests as well as other careers-related enquiries. Go to CareerHub or drop in to either of our offices (in the Hutton Hub on College Lane and in the Atrium on DeHavilland) for more information.

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