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I had applied in one company and the interviewer asked me this question:

How would you deal if multiple issues came suddenly at a time while your co-worker was on a break or not available?

I was unsure as to what the best response would be to a question like this. Is there a best practice way to answer these sorts of questions at interview?

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    You priorities the problems. It is called triage
    – Ed Heal
    Nov 10, 2017 at 3:46
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    What is confusing about it? It's a real-life scenario.
    – Nelson
    Nov 10, 2017 at 4:40
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    Ok, and what exactly is your question here?
    – Masked Man
    Nov 10, 2017 at 4:43
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    @MaskedMan I don't want to know. I am giving you my guess of what the question is here.
    – Bluebird
    Nov 10, 2017 at 5:48
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    So, "I would immediately go on break. Since my co-worker already was on break, they're sure to return first and will have to deal with the problems" is not the advised response? Nov 10, 2017 at 15:55

3 Answers 3

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Prioritize

Prioritise based on the severity of the problem. You'll want to address any concern affecting company revenue first and then work down from there.

In order (basically):

  • Revenue generating system broken (people can't fulfil their jobs)
  • Something else broken (many people can't access a system)
  • Department wide issue
  • User specific problem

Support tickets are normally tagged with a priority/severity grade, so follow those.

In cases of ambiguity, you'd ask a manager what the priorities should be and follow that advice.

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They are expecting you to show that you can apply some independent thinking skills in how you prioritize dealing with multiple tasks and that you can take into account business needs.

At least that's what I expect when I ask similar questions to Tech Support candidates!

Something like this would be a great answer for me:

If there were multiple issues coming in at the same time I would first try and see if there was any obvious commonality to the issues to see whether there was a single problem affecting multiple people who are then reporting it individually. If that's not obviously the case then I'd prioritise the issues that were having the biggest business impact and work down the list, letting those with lower priority issues know that I was currently on my own and that I will get to their issue as soon as I can.

This shows that you can prioritize and that you can understand that people need communicating to when there is going to be a delay in dealing with their issue.

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If you're going to be doing tech support, it's probably something you should think about. As far as what is the answer, I would say one that shows some thought, uses some logic and is organized.

Hopefully, during the interview process, you've learned what is expected, so that may give some insight. What are the nature of problems? Are most of them solved quickly? Is there a procedure for escalating problems? Ask what your boss will prefer: solving a lot of little problems to make the reports look good or are you encouraged to take on difficult problems and use the time necessary to come up with an effective solution.

Often, support jobs require you to play a "game" so you better know how they're keeping score.

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