What are time management skills?
Time management skills are often part of the requirements for a great number of roles, and as a transferable skill, time management is needed at all levels in an organization.
Time management is an essential skill for productive teams that can manage deadlines effectively, producing work of the best quality when it is due or even before.
The different facets of time management skills include:
Organization: a candidate with good time management skills will be able to organize their schedule to ensure that daily tasks are completed, planning to allow for meetings and important steps to be taken towards tasks. This also includes prioritization, choosing which tasks are most important and need the most focus.
Communication: great communication and interpersonal skills are essential as soft skills in their own rights, but they also tie in with time management. Communication helps a candidate be able to tell others about their schedule but also allows them to set boundaries so they can feel empowered to say “no” to extra work that they cannot plan for. Communication skills help with delegation, giving tasks to experts that can complete them faster and more effectively.
Self-discipline: this is an interesting facet of time management - when a candidate is self-disciplined, they are able to focus on the right tasks and get their work done to deadlines. They are also able to look after their own well-being, including stress management techniques so that they can produce consistently high results.
How do great time management skills make an employee more effective?
Recruiters who are looking for time management skills are actually looking for different facets of productivity and planning ability, and the employees who have the right level of time management skills will find their work more fulfilling and are more likely to be ready for promotion sooner.
Employees who have great time management skills are able to do more work in less time, allocating focus where it is needed. They do not need to put as much effort into every task because they have scheduled their workload effectively to ensure that everything that needs to be done is completed in a logical and organized way.
Time management is as much about preparation as it is about actually completing the tasks, and this comes from effective calendar management, taking detailed notes in meetings, and filing documents and other paperwork effectively.
For the candidate, having great time management skills makes the work more fulfilling, and they are more likely to be energetic and motivated to complete each task properly.
What jobs benefit the most from great time management skills?
Time management skills are like other soft skills, which means that they are transferable skills that are useful across every industry and in just about every role at every level.
As time management skills are important for most roles, listing specific jobs that benefit the most from organized and productive employees can be difficult, but the following are just some job titles that specifically need time management skills.
Administrative assistant or executive assistant
Nurse and medical staff
Wedding or event planner
Time management skills are important when looking for a general employee, and they are especially important when recruiters are assessing candidates for management and leadership positions. Supervisors and managers need to be able to manage their own time, as well as delegating successfully to manage the time of their staff, too.
How to hire for great time management skills
More ‘traditional’ hiring processes might make it difficult to tell whether a candidate has effective time management skills - recruiters cannot always tell from reading a CV whether a candidate is organized, for example, and even in interviews it isn't always easy to tell.
With some consideration of what to look for in a candidate with great time management skills, recruiters can make easier hiring decisions.
The time management skills test is a pre-employment assessment that can be administered to a wide range of candidates at the same time. The test itself is based on work-related situations, presenting scenarios or problems that need to be solved, and different courses of action that could be taken to solve them.
To demonstrate their time management skills, the candidate needs to select the most useful and least useful course of action to take that would deal with the presented issue. The other options presented might be completely irrelevant, not deal with the problem, or are common mistakes or misconceptions.
The results of the time management skills test will demonstrate the level of skill that each candidate has with data that is objective and relevant, removing any bias and showing exactly which candidates have what it takes to be successful in the future.
Reference checks for potential candidates are a great way to find out more about how they behave at work, and by asking the right questions a recruiter can find out some really useful information.
If a candidate does not have a previous employer listed as a reference, perhaps because they have recently left education, then you can still ask their school or university reference about their time management skills.
Potential questions that recruiters could ask a referee include:
Is the candidate organized?
Was the candidate good at meeting deadlines?
Did the candidate prioritize their workload effectively?
The interview is a great time to find out more about a candidate and their soft skills, and with the right questions the recruitment team and the employer can learn specifically about their time management skills.
While some employers use more unstructured interviews, having a structured way of asking questions makes it much easier to compare answers between candidates, and this is also true when looking at work behavior.
The type of question that the recruitment team should be asking in the interview to understand more about a candidate’s soft skills, like time management, is asking the applicant to describe a situation where they have used that skill. Candidates will usually reply with an answer that describes the situation, task, actions and results (known as the STAR mnemonic), which is very helpful for the interviewers to really understand what needed to be done and what the candidate did.
A question that you could ask in the interview to assess a candidate for time management skills is:
“Tell me about a time you had to balance a heavy workload while ensuring a high level of quality or accuracy in your work.”
How testing for time management skills can benefit your company's hiring process
Hiring processes can be long winded and expensive, especially if you have a high volume of similarly qualified applicants to sift through. When you are considering soft skills, which are much harder to quantify in a typical interview process, it can be even more difficult.
Using objective, bias-free pre-employment assessments gives the recruitment team reliable and easy to read data that actually points to the right candidates to take further into the process, saving time and energy.
For the interviewers who prefer an unstructured interview style, backing up the conversation that you are having with candidates using the objective data from a time management test will provide something more quantifiable in the decision making.
Even for the more structured interviews, combining the subjective and objective data from the interview and the test results will give a more comprehensive measure of the time management abilities of the candidate.