How to Thrive in a Fast-paced Environment

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated November 27, 2022 | Published May 17, 2021

Updated November 27, 2022

Published May 17, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Many roles require work in a fast-paced environment. Learning how to adapt to this type of workplace can help you grow and prevent burnout at work. In this article, we explain what a fast-paced environment is and provide tips for thriving in this type of workplace. We also discuss how to respond to interview questions about working in a fast-paced environment and provide some examples.

What is a fast-paced environment?

A fast-paced environment is a type of workplace where things happen quickly. You need to move between tasks continuously or carry out multiple duties and responsibilities at the same time. Working in a fast-paced environment requires you to be prepared for new and sometimes urgent tasks on brief notice.

Roles in food service, law, media and medicine operate in a fast-paced environment. When prepared with the skills to thrive in such workplaces, you can succeed and feel motivated at work.

How to work in a fast-paced environment

Follow these steps to adapt and prepare for work in a fast-paced environment:

1. Learn about your role

Start by researching your field and understanding your employer's expectations. Ask about your daily duties and responsibilities and whether you need to read anything before your first day. Learning about your role in a company helps you be independent and prepared for changes.

For example, project managers typically use abbreviations and standard terms to discuss projects, such as those found in the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK). While your employers expect you to know the common ones, an organization may have its abbreviations and standard terms you need to be familiar with to keep up. Find out what they are early on.

2. Get to know your colleagues

Fast-paced environments typically require multiple workers. When you start a new role, ask for the leadership structure and review your coworkers' positions. Getting to know your coworkers and their responsibilities can help you perform your duties better because you can share and divide tasks accordingly. It also makes it easier to ask for each other's help. Building relationships is also healthy for your mental health and creates a fun, welcoming work environment.

3. Be organized

Being organized and detail-oriented is important when working in a fast-paced role. Having an organizational system that works for you allows you to complete tasks quickly. You also need organizational skills to learn how to prioritize your work. For example, medical professionals typically have to switch between caring for multiple patients and performing administrative tasks in a fast-paced environment. With strong organizational skills and attention to detail, they can adapt quickly and manage both responsibilities.

4. Have good interpersonal and communication skills

In a fast-paced environment, you need strong communication skills to delegate work, collaborate with teammates and understand the details of a task. Having excellent interpersonal skills and communication skills and knowing how to listen actively means you can focus on understanding instructions and communicating them to other team members.

5. Be ambitious

Employers in fast-paced environments look for ambitious people. Having ambition keeps you motivated, driven to get the job done, and to a high professional standard.

Related: How To Show You Are a Quick Learner on Your Resume

6. Take breaks whenever possible

While completing tasks is important, you need breaks to thrive in a fast-paced environment. Giving yourself breaks keeps you energized and allows you to perform tasks effectively. Finding time to exercise or take part in relaxing activities keeps you motivated when it's time to get back to work.

7. Discover ways to multitask

A great way to make your fast-paced job easier is to multitask whenever possible. Separate tasks that take time to complete from those you can do quickly and spend more time on the ones that require more focus. For example, as an administrative officer, you can create reports while downloading files to your computer at the same time.

Related: Essential Multitasking Skills and How to Improve Them

8. Set goals

Setting goals can help you visualize and complete your tasks in a fast-paced work environment. Start by listing out tasks you want to complete by the end of the day or week. Outline additional tasks to complete if you have extra time.

Use the SMART method when setting goals. SMART goals are:

  • specific

  • measurable

  • attainable

  • relevant

  • time-based

9. Use various motivation strategies

When you have several tasks to complete, it's important to stay motivated. Use a reward system like treating yourself to lunch or watching the next episode of a series when you complete a challenging assignment.

Related: 6 Effective Ways to Maintain Motivation for Career Success

Tips for responding to interview questions about working in a fast-paced environment

When an employer asks about your ability to work in a fast-paced environment, they want to find out whether you are a good fit for the organization's culture. They also want to know if you can handle the duties of the role you're applying for.

Working in a fast-paced environment suits some people better than others, as some people prefer to work at a steady pace. If you enjoy working this way, use the following tips to answer interview questions for related jobs:

Be enthusiastic

Showing your enthusiasm for fast-paced environments is a great way to let an interviewer know you can succeed in such workplaces. Explain what excites you about the role and why you're a good fit. For example, you can discuss how working in a fast-paced environment helped you exceed performance expectations in your previous role.

Mention your flexibility

When answering questions about fast-paced environments, talk about your ability to work a flexible schedule. Mentioning your flexibility convinces interviewers you can handle various projects and are dedicated to helping the organization reach its goals.

Use open body language

Your body language must back up your words to convince an interviewer that you can work in a fast-paced environment. Instead of crossing your arms or placing your hands close to your body, keep a relaxed posture and maintain eye contact.

Explain relevant experiences

It's important to make a good first impression when responding to questions about fast-paced work environments. Tell a memorable story to get the attention of your interviewer. You can structure your answer using the STAR interview method. STAR stands for:

  • situation

  • task

  • action

  • result

Be specific

Your response to questions about working in a fast-paced environment must be specific to the role. Consider using numbers in your answer to provide qualitative evidence. For example, if you worked at a fast-paced marketing organization, you can state that you increased sales by 25%.

Focus on your employer

While it's important to show you can thrive in a fast-paced work environment, focus on how you can help your potential employer. Fast-paced workplaces are all different, and employers seek candidates that are adaptable and have transferrable skills. For example, if you're applying to a production designer role, explain your ability to come up with a string of creative ideas quickly and highlight how that would be of use for the next project.

Ask if there's an opportunity to grow

Employers typically look for self-motivated employees. Expressing an interest in targets or goal-setting demonstrates your ambition. By asking whether there are opportunities to grow, you show your desire to learn on the job.

Example answers when responding to questions about working in a fast-paced environment

"Do you enjoy working in a fast-paced environment?" is a common interview question. Here are some example answers by role:

Example 1: IT manager

"I thrive in fast-paced environments. In my previous role, I had to meet strict deadlines while scheduling projects such as computer system outages and migrations. I managed 15 IT technicians and assigned tasks to them daily. I also met several IT upgrades that the organization had not yet carried out. As the IT manager, I successfully upgraded 32 IT projects that improved other workers' efficiency by 13%. I have strong leadership, budgeting and problem-solving skills."

Example 2: Cook

"I enjoy working in bars, restaurants, and hotels where multiple people visit. At my last job, I led a team of five kitchen staff. We made meals for over 40 guests daily and answered all their questions. I also maintained the kitchen environment and made sure customers received their meals quickly. I have excellent presentation, safety and multitasking skills to prepare healthy and tasty meals for customers."

Example 3: Secretary

"I enjoy working in a fast-paced environment. When I started my career, I only applied for roles where I could work at a steady pace. However, my last job required me to complete several tasks quickly and continuously. I scheduled appointments and helped visitors that came into the office. I also created daily reports for my supervisor and reached the target of sending out 16 reports to various managers at the end of the week. I have exceptional communication, interpersonal and organizational skills to perform the duties and responsibilities of this role."

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