How To Answer “Tell Me About a Time You Had To Meet a Tight Deadline”

Do you have an upcoming job interview? Learn how to answer the “Describe a situation when you had to deal with tight deadlines” or “Tell me about a time you had to meet a tight deadline” interview questions. Check out the example answer, do’s and don’ts on this page.

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During a job interview, you might get a question about meeting a goal or dealing with tight deadlines. This is usually the case in deadline driven job roles such as a project or sales manager position. They want to know how you handle and approach deadlines.ย Use the STAR method to structure your answer:

Example Answer (With Experience)

Situation: “For example, as a [Job title] I had to migrate content from Sitecore to Adobe Experience Manager with a set deadline of one month.

Task: Although this may sound like a simple copy and paste task, the steps involved are: understanding the CMS architectures, collecting documents and creating approximately 300 new pages. 

Action: Once I started my daily routine using Google Calendar and Trello, I noticed that the plan our team had discussed earlier required some adjustments or else I would not meet the deadline I was given.

I then re-scheduled a short one-on-one meeting with the manager and clearly outlined the steps I would need to take and the expected time required to properly finish each one of them.

Result: As a result, the manager pushed the timeline back by an additional week. With this extra time, I was actually able to complete the task a couple days earlier and guarantee a high-quality service.”

Example Answer (No Experience)

โ€œDuring my time at college, I was dealing with tight deadlines quite frequently because I was combining study and top-level sport, so they have become more or less a commonplace for me.ย 

A recent example of such a situation was my last semester at [College XYZ]. I was studying for my final exams while at the same time practicing sports 5 times a week.ย 

So what I did is, I clearly outlined the steps I would need to take when studying for those exams and the estimated time I expected each exam and training session to take.ย 

My day to day approach, using Trello and Google Calendar, proved to be effective because I passed all the exams the first time and never skipped a workout day.ย 

Iโ€™m convinced that my organizational skills, putting every commitment in writing and saying โ€œNOโ€ or ignoring distractions were effective for dealing with tight deadlines.โ€

Interview Question Tips

  • Don’t complain about previous tight deadlines and don’t use overtime as a key skill
  • Don’t talk negatively about your former boss, ex-colleagues or clients
  • Do provide a real-life example where you show: What steps you took ahead to prepare. A proper reasoning to why a certain deadline seemed realistic or not, and the next steps you took.
  • Do focus on qualifications that are associated with the skills the interviewer is probing for when asking this question. Think of skills related to time management, setting goals, communication, working under pressure, self-motivation, attention to detail etc.ย ย 
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