How to tell a hiring manager about a time you worked in a fast paced environment.
Some jobs let you skate by doing the bare minimum each day.
Others require you to work upwards of 60, 70, even 80 hours or more a week.
They might have constant deadlines or simply high-performance expectations that require a lot of work.
But these jobs don’t usually pop up out of nowhere — you’re usually given some kind of warning in how the job is first described to you.
The most common warning sign? The term “fast paced.”
Everyone has a different personality, and some people are just going to be more suited to these kinds of quick, high-performance jobs than others.
But what does “fast paced” really mean? How do you know if you’re looking for these kinds of jobs? And how do you show your hiring manager that you’re the person they’re looking for when it comes to fast paced workers?
Figuring out your own pace is something you can really only do after working a variety of jobs.
However, figuring out the pace of a job you’re trying to get is as easy as asking a hiring manager:
At least, if you know what you’re looking for.
Sometimes, a hiring manager will try to get this information across to you directly by describing the job using phrases like:
The thing about figuring out which companies are fast paced and which are slow paced is that there are almost no companies on the planet that would describe themselves as slow.
That means that you need to work a little to read between the lines, noting the differences between what your interviewer is saying and what they actually mean.
If they’re just saying that their company “can get a little hectic sometimes,” well, so can every company.
But if, over and over again, the hiring manager takes pains to point out how quickly deadlines roll up or how important time management is, then it’s a pretty good indication for you that this is going to be a fast paced kind of company.
So in the event that this is the impression you get from your interviewer, there are two things left for you to decide:
If you decide that a fast paced environment isn’t really your speed, now’s a good time to get out — although it’s important to note that with the growth of startup and tech industries, whatever slow paced environments there are left in the workforce are starting to disappear.
On the other hand, if you’ve decided this kind of environment is for you, you have to figure out how to frame your experience so a hiring manager thinks that you’re ready for it too.
To that effect, there are a few dos and don’ts you should keep in mind during your interview:
Here are a few example answers to help you formulate your own.
When an interviewer tells you to “describe your experience working in a fast paced environment,” you might say:
It’s important to remember that not all fast paced environments are alike.
Again, this sounds obvious, but after working in one kind of fast paced environment it’s easy to get to thinking that you would excel in any work environment that’s described the same way.
Maybe you work well in heavily organized, borderline-micromanaged offices where deadlines and check-ins are constant.
On the other hand, you might find that you do better when you’re given a lot of freedom, with almost no check-ins and several projects that you’re expected to juggle on your own.
It all comes down to personal preference and comfort.
Either way, you should try to figure this out as early in your life as you can — it’ll make looking for jobs a heck of a lot easier on you.
Best of luck! Here are some other links to help you on your way:
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