Managers: Consider multitasking ability when hiring

Sep 21, 2010
By staff

The ability to multitask is quickly becoming a required qualification for many jobs. But partiality toward multitasking is still up to individual employees. And individuals who dislike jumping from one task to another might not last long in positions of high-level multitasking, such as a receptionist at a veterinary practice. Fortunately, two university professors are making headway on how to find an employee who meets these demanding needs.

Elizabeth Poposki, PhD, of Indiana University and Frederick L. Oswald, PhD, of Rice University are developing a Multitasking Preference Inventory (MPI). The tool, they report in a recent issue of Human Performance, will help employers identify employees who enjoy multitasking. The idea is simple: Employees who enjoy multitasking will be less inclined to leave a job that involves multitasking.

While you may not have the MPI tool available for your next round of interviews, you can take a cue from the professors and talk to team members about which duties they prefer to handle. Specifically, ask whether they enjoy shifting back and forth between multiple ongoing duties—the real definition of multitasking. After all, a happy team means productive employees and less turnover.