7 min. read

November 25, 2021


Developer Interview: Tell Me About a Time You Managed Conflicting Priorities

Facebook behaviour interview questions

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The Interview Sage

This article was originally published by The Interview Sage. The Interview Sage creates Software Eng Interview tutorials to help you get a job at companies like Facebook, Google, Apple, & Amazon.


Before we discuss this question, let us recap what the Behavioral Interview Round at Facebook is.

  1. Behavioural Interview Round is also known as the Jedi Interview round at Facebook.

  2. It is about you and your history, your résumé, and your motivation.

  3. The purpose of this interview is to assess whether the candidate will thrive in Facebook's peer-to-peer, minimal process, and unstructured engineering organization.

For Software Engineers, the behavioural interview is actually part behavioural and part coding. The coding part is a shorter version of the usual coding interviews and is included to supplement the other two coding interviews to get an additional coding signal.

First part: Top Facebook Behavioural Interview Questions

Tips & Tricks to effectively prepare for Behavioral Interviews

  1. Know yourself! Take the time to review your résumé, as the interviewer will almost certainly ask about key events in your work history.

  2. Have concrete examples or anecdotes to support each of the questions.

  3. Familiarize yourself with Facebook's mission statement and its five core values:

    • Be Bold

    • Focus on Impact

    • Move Fast

    • Be Open

    • Build Social Value

  4. Be yourself! Be open and honest about your successes and failures.

  5. Be humble and focus on teamwork, leadership, and mentorship qualities.

Now, let us review how to effectively answer the question on Managing Conflicting Priorities in the interview.


Tell me about a time you had to manage conflicting priorities

Video Explanation with Evaluation Criteria, Response Framework, Tips & Tricks, and a Special Case of "Never Had Conflicting Priorities".

Time management is a crucial part of everyone's career.

Interviewers often ask candidates to tell about a time when they had to manage conflicting or shifting priorities at their workplace.

Evaluation Criteria

Everyone deals with conflicting priorities and shifting deadlines in their jobs.

  1. By this question, the interviewer's goal is to evaluate:

    • How you manage your time,

    • Exercise judgment,

    • Communicate, and

    • Shift gears when needed.

  2. They want to know if you can handle competing priorities and understand the implications of missing deadlines.

  3. The interviewers are trying to assess whether you can work under challenging situations or unstructured environments and distinguish between the urgent and the important.

  4. They are also looking to see if your coworkers can rely on you to get the work done.

Response Framework

Our advice is to pick a compelling and honest story that can articulate a real-life experience where you had to manage conflicting priorities and shifting deadlines at your workplace.

Describe the situation, the events that occurred, and explain how the priorities shifted while working on a particular project. It can be that your manager or coworker might hand you a last-minute request that is of higher importance or something genuinely urgent comes up for which you had to drop everything else.

Explain to the interviewer how you evaluated and decided your plan of action and how you communicated about this shift with your manager, coworkers, and other stakeholders. If your current task cannot be deprioritized for some reason, describe to the interviewer how you handled it by asking for additional help or resources from your manager.

Finally, express how the outcome and the impact were beneficial to the company or team.

Tips & Tricks

  1. Always remain calm and professional.

    • Refrain from being negative and avoid blaming your employer, coworkers, or manager.

    • Companies generally do not like to hire people who are always pointing fingers at others.

  2. Use a compelling story that is honest and believable.

    • It is most desirable to describe a real-life example to the interviewer to show that you have actually faced such a situation in your career and not just talk about a generic strategy.

  3. Do not sugarcoat your answer with irrelevant details.

    • Spend more time talking about the actions you took to handle the conflicting priorities.

  4. Show that you proactively communicated about the shift to all the stakeholders to keep them well informed.

  5. Focus on the business impact that you had on your company or team.

  6. Prepare the response for this question beforehand, as it will be tough to structure your answer on the spot during the interview.

  7. Do not memorize the answer as it should come naturally, and you should sound confident to the interviewer.

Special Case: Never Had Conflicting Priorities

It may be the case that you actually never had to face conflicting priorities and shifting deadlines in your workplace. New Grads and entry-level software engineers usually fall under this category.

If you are in such a situation, do not end your answer by simply saying that you never had a conflicting priority in your workplace. Instead, try to use a real experience from your college. For example:

  • Handling multiple courses and projects,

  • Dividing the time between your part-time job and coursework, etc.

This will help the interviewer evaluate you on various attributes that we mentioned earlier, like:

  • How you manage your time,

  • Exercise judgment,

  • Communicate, and

  • Shift gears when needed.

Preparation Material

Learn more about the Evaluation Criteria, Response Framework, and Tips & Tricks to effectively prepare and answer the top questions asked in the Behavioral Interviews at Facebook. Certain special cases are also discussed which are usually faced by the candidates during these interviews.

⬇ ️ Detailed Written Notes on Top Facebook Behavioral Interview Questions


This article was originally published by The Interview Sage. The Interview Sage creates Software Eng Interview tutorials to help you get a job at companies like Facebook, Google, Apple, & Amazon.