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How to answer interview questions about stress

How to answer interview questions about stress

“How do you handle pressure? How do you cope with stress in the workplace?” Some people do their best work under tight deadlines, find white-knuckle challenges exhilarating, and are cool-headed even when everyone around them is freaking out. If this is true for you, great! Say so, and give a specific example. If it isn’t–read on!

If you’re more of a sensitive or high-strung type like me, never fear–you can still handle this question effectively.

To answer an interview question about stress management or working under pressure, tell a story.

Think of a time when you successfully handled a high-stress situation at work: you remained pleasant, overcame challenges and delivered what was needed, even if you did feel like putting yourself into a straitjacket, or wrestling one onto someone else! Specifically how did you manage it? (Overcoming the challenges, I mean–not putting somebody into restraints.)

  • Did you cope by being very organized, prioritizing, working faster (to meet a deadline) or more carefully (to ensure accuracy under hectic conditions)?
  • Did you make a point of empathizing with stressed-out co-workers and remembering not to take things personally?
  • If not, what’s your own stress superpower? Humor? Mindfulness? Headphones?

Focus on your smart actions and the good results.

An interview story consists of a situation or problem, the actions you took and the results. The actions and results are the part that sells you, so don’t ramble on and on about what a horror show the situation was. Be specific about the positive results you managed to achieve. Did you meet the deadline, create high-quality deliverables, keep smiling, learn from the situation and/or improve processes to make the next crisis easier to handle?

Prove it, right there on the spot.

Remember that the interview itself is a high-pressure situation, and the interviewer will be assessing how you handle it. The best way to appear calm and unperturbed is to actually be that way inside. So before you have to answer the interview question about stress management or working under pressure, spend some time actually practicing a genuinely calm, confident interview demeanor.

Questions about how you handle stress are very common in job interviews. These questions can be nerve-wracking if you have to answer them on the spot without preparing. However, it’s important to realize that you can use tough interview questions to your advantage if you prepare the right way!

In almost every job, you will encounter some sort of stressful aspect, whether this is caused by meeting a tight deadline, reaching a specific goal or target, or an important presentation. This is also the reason why employers are interested in candidates that have stress management skills.

Stress management questions are usually asked in the form of behavioral interview questions. These questions require you to provide the interviewer with a relevant example situation that you experienced in the past during work. Behavioral job interview questions focus on work situations that you experienced and how you responded to them. The way you respond to these questions tells the interviewer more about your personality, work processes, and ethics.

In this blog, we discuss why the interviewer asks how you handle stress, and how you should answer them. Also, read more about frequently asked job interview questions here and check our job interview preparation checklist.

Why Do Interviewers Ask How You Handle Stress?

In a lot of positions, the ability to remain calm under (a healthy dose of) pressure while still being able to perform is essential. If a job requires you to be able to adapt to challenging situations or deal with multiple deadlines simultaneously, you can expect the interviewer to bring stress management up during the interview.

The goal of interviewers is to assess how you respond to stressful situations, and if you do, this is a constructive or destructive way. For them, finding applicants who are able to cope with stress is important. Interviewers specifically look for candidates who get motivated by a healthy amount of stress on the job. These employees are able to use stressful situations to their advantage to be even more products and deliver quality work.

The best way for you to demonstrate that you possess stress management skills is by explaining how you approach complex situations in a systematic way and how you have successfully done so in the past.

The most effective way to demonstrate your stress management skills is by explaining how you plan your workdays ahead and prioritize your tasks. Interviewers look for candidates who focus on constructive communication with their coworkers and supervisors but are also able to set healthy boundaries.

What Your Answers To Stress Management Questions Should Include

In short, interviewers want to get to know you better and learn more about how you approach your work. Therefore, make sure you prepare for tough interview questions such as those about stress management. By preparing the right way, you should be able to demonstrate your stress management skills by using solid example scenarios in which you used them.

Your interviewers want you to show that you can take on the day-to-day tasks that are required for the job. Furthermore, you need to show that you have the potential to grow. Behavioral questions and situational interview questions are used to get more information about how you deal with stress and challenges in your work. Basically, the interviewers want to get the following questions answered:

  1. Are you able to perform when you encounter stressful situations?
  2. Can you communicate effectively with different personalities?
  3. Are you able to adequately respond to situations that occur during your work?
  4. Are you able to adjust to changing work environments?
  5. Can you assist your colleagues or team when needed?
  6. Are you flexible in your approaches to situations at work?

Example Behavioral Interview Questions About Stress Management

  • Give me an example of a time you stressed out, which resulted in making errors in your work.
  • Have you ever had trouble responding to a hectic or stressful situation?

Job Interview Topics – Common Job Interview Questions & Answers

Below you can find a list of common job interview topics. Each link will direct you to an article regarding the specific topics that discuss commonly asked interview questions. Furthermore, each article discusses why the interviewer asks these questions and how you answer them!

One Response

When it comes to answering questions about stress, I find it best to offer some real-life examples. This helps to frame the answers better and it ensures that the best picture possible is given. Definitely helps with any sort of interview.

How to answer interview questions about stress

When it comes to stress in the workplace, most employees would like to think that they’re more than capable of handling any demanding situation when the pressure’s on. But the fact of the matter is that interviews themselves can be a nerve-wracking experience.

Hence, when the hiring manager asks how you deal with stress, it’s good to have a professional response ready that demonstrates your self-awareness, problem-solving skills and ability to stay motivated.

Why are they asking you this in the first place? Stress is an inherent part of work life. The hiring manager wants to know how you handle these types of conditions, as well as how your reaction may potentially affect co-workers – and the company as a whole.

  1. Tell a story – Be specific in recalling those stressful moments that you can identify as a time of personal growth. The more genuine detail you can provide, the better it will help the hiring manager understand how you turned that respective situation into a positive.
  2. Discuss the how, not the what – Be forthcoming about how you mentally manage stress whenever it arises. Maintaining a healthy routine, practicing mindfulness or participating in physical activity (for example) are all things that can help you stay calm and balanced. Whatever that means to you, discussing it with the hiring manager is completely acceptable.
  3. Be authentic – No matter how you choose to take on this line of questioning, it’s always far better to be genuine than perfect. The hiring manager will probably be able to sense your dishonesty; and should you get the job, it might come back to bite you. No matter how you decide to craft your response, the worst thing you can do is lie.
  4. Focus on success – Most professional workplaces can be hectic from time to time. If you’re applying for a job that has the potential to carry a higher level of stress, be sure to let the hiring manager know that you’re accustomed to performing in such an environment and how you’ve succeeded despite the circumstances.
  5. Pay attention to the end result – Demonstrating your ability to focus on the ultimate objective tells the manager a lot about how you perform under pressure. For example, rather than seeing an impending deadline as a looming stressor, discuss how you see it as a motivator through which to meet the professional goal at hand. If you happen to be working in a team setting, you could even elaborate on how you use this mentality to keep everyone else motivated, as well. Please take a moment to also refer to Answering Behavioral Interview Questions using the STAR Method.

How Not to Respond

  1. Denial – Telling the hiring manager that you don’t get stressed out isn’t optimal. While on the surface this might make you seem capable of handling any workplace task, to the hiring manager it could create the impression that you simply lack self-awareness. No one wants to hire an employee who can’t see their own weaknesses. We discuss this point in-depth in the article “What is your greatest weakness?”.
  2. Being too general – i.e. “I manage the team somehow.” This response can come off as too laidback. It makes you sound unable to anticipate potential problems, and also gives the hiring manager no solid indication as to how you’d deal with them.
  3. Passing off the problem – There is certainly a time and a place to discuss your ability and willingness to delegate, but this isn’t the moment to do so. The hiring manager isn’t going to want to bring someone on who fills up their plate with too many tasks, only to alleviate stress by assigning those tasks to other team members.
  4. Refusing to acknowledge the situation – Telling the hiring manager that you don’t think about stress – or just work through it when the problem arises – generally doesn’t make you sound like a hard worker. Rather, it can pigeonhole you as a poor communicator who could burn out far too quickly.
  5. Starting with a negative – A response that begins, “I was really stressed at my last job when…” has the potential to paint an undesirable picture in the mind of the hiring manager. Even if you ultimately work it into a positive, there are far better ways to begin constructing a narrative.
  6. Using stress as a motivator – Creating the impression that you’re powered by stressful situations makes it sound like you don’t have the ability to diffuse potential problems. In this situation, you don’t want the hiring manager to think that you’d prefer to let the stress accumulate rather than find a way to fix the issue at hand.
  7. Stepping away – No matter the industry, every employee occasionally needs to take a step back and reassess the situation. However, be careful not to make it sound as if when the going gets tough, you leave.

Sample Responses to Get You Started

Next Steps?

Do you feel prepared to answer tough interview questions? ProViso Consulting is a professional staffing agency, here to support your career success! Our expert team can help guide you through commonly asked interview questions. View IT jobs in Toronto now.

How to answer interview questions about stress

Chances are, you’ll be asked about how you handle stress and pressure during your next job interview. Instead of, well, stressing out, these tips will help you nail your answer.

Everyone’s familiar with the most common interview questions: Can you tell me about yourself? Why are you interested in this job? What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses? And, of course, how do you handle stress?

And because they are so common, you might spend less time before your interview preparing for these seemingly straightforward questions. The answers will be obvious, right? But the truth is, the interviewer or hiring manager is collecting important information from your answers. A wrong answer — or even phrase — could really turn them off.

Instead of winging the “How do you handle stress?” interview question, take some time to prepare beforehand. Follow these steps when considering your response:

1. Understand why the interviewer is asking this job interview question

Before you start thinking about how you’ll answer the question, think about why the interviewer or hiring manager is asking it in the first place. The “How do you handle and deal with stress?” question is a classic behavioral interview question.

By asking behavioral interview questions, the interviewer wants to get a better idea of how you handle various stressful situations at work. That means you’ll want to highlight your skills and use real-life examples. The interviewer will then use that information to help determine if you’re the right candidate for the position and company.

2. Make a list of your soft skills

Before you start recounting various times you’ve experienced stress or pressure at work, make a list of your soft skills. Among other things, these are the interpersonal skills you use to help manage and overcome stress.

A few soft skills you might use to address stress or pressure at work include:

Even though the interviewer wants to see how you’ve handled stress and were able to stay positive, they’re also interested in learning more about your soft skills, so keep these in mind.

3. Add context to these skills with a relevant, impactful example

Now that you know what soft skills you can highlight, start thinking about the times you’ve experienced stress or pressure at work. While you’re thinking through these examples — even jotting them down on a piece of paper — make sure you remember not to focus on situations where you were at fault.

For example, avoid talking about the time you forgot you had a project due the next day. Or that time you took on way too many assignments and struggled to juggle them. These types of answers could portray job seekers as forgetful, unreliable, or overambitious. Additionally, consider coming up with two to three examples that fit the roles you’re interviewing for and their required skills.

4. Focus on your positive actions, not your negative feelings

When it comes to stress, it’s easy to get caught in its emotion — the frustration, the panic, the dread. It’s also easy to blame others: “My manager didn’t clearly communicate with me,” or “My co-worker totally dropped the ball.”

Instead of focusing on your feelings and blaming others for your stress, highlight how you overcame the situation. Think of those soft skills. Did you communicate with your team? Did you prioritize your goals?

Ultimately, you’ll impress your interviewer by staying positive — not placing blame — and highlighting your skills.

5. Don’t deny your stress

If you pretend you don’t experience stress in your job, your interviewer won’t buy it. Or they’ll think you’re out of touch with your emotions or that you don’t take your job seriously enough.

If for some reason you can’t recall and give examples of a specific time you’ve experienced pressure at your job, then focus on how you manage your daily stress. Do you practice mindfulness and self awareness? Do you schedule in a 30-minute lunch break and force yourself to leave your desk? Do you run after work? This information will give interviewers and hiring managers a better glimpse into who you are and how you operate in and outside of the job.

Example answers: How do you handle stress and pressure?

Now that you’ve got a good idea of how to respond to the classic “How do you handle stress?” interview question, let’s run through some sample answers.

Here’s your first example:

I was recently assigned a last-minute project. Instead of panicking, I took a few moments to outline a schedule and map out my game plan. Then I got to work. I made sure to communicate my progress with my manager so that they could stay in the loop. If any problems came up, I looped them in so we could troubleshoot and continue to make progress. I was able to complete the project on time, and the client was thrilled.

Here’s another example:

I don’t like to let stress take over a situation. Instead, I like to stay focused on the task at hand. For example, if a client isn’t happy with our product, instead of dwelling on it, I like to focus on proactively communicating with them. I like to get to the bottom of the issue, troubleshoot it, and then find a common ground that’ll allow us to move forward.

Here’s a final example:

I’ve found that a healthy amount of stress motivates me to stay on track and work as efficiently and effectively as possible. For example, deadlines are important to me. If my manager doesn’t give me deadlines, I set them for myself. That’s how I’m able to consistently turn in assignments on time.

Of course, you can add more details to each specific stressful situation, but note how in these examples, the interviewee isn’t dwelling on the negative and is instead highlighting their soft skills and the way they overcame the obstacle, not the negative emotions associated with it.

Curious about how you should answer this and other common job interview questions? Get personalized advice from one of our professional interview coaches today!

How to answer interview questions about stress

S ome professions deal with stressful situations more frequently than others. Depending on the role, you may consider asking stress interview questions to find out how your candidate performs under pressure. However, you shouldn’t conduct a stress interview for every type of position; stress interviews can put candidates on edge and leave a bad impression of your company, if not presented properly. Learn why stress interviews are used, when to implement them, and which stress-based interview questions to ask…

Stress interviews, as the name suggests, test a candidate’s ability to handle stress and perform under pressure. This is done by creating an uncomfortable environment, so you can gain insight into how a candidate would react to stressful situations on the job.

Adding a stress interview to your recruitment process can show you whether the candidate has the necessary qualifications and personality to handle the expectations of the job. After all, you don’t want to hire a candidate who looks great on paper but crumbles under pressure.

This technique isn’t for the faint hearted. Although you may feel uncomfortable asking the questions, you may have to follow it through until you have all the answers and information you need on the candidate. A big part of creating a stress interview is planning what questions to ask. Below are a selection of interview stress questions to ask your candidates…

A job interview is one of most stressful situations you can put yourself in.

This is because, most people, fear being the center of attention.

It is the fear of being rejected by the hiring manager that creates stress and anxiety. Job interview stress changes the candidate’s behavior which in turn creates a weak interview identity. Answers are weak, lacking detail and filled with an excessive number of filler words and weak language.

This article will explain how to handle job interview stress to create a strong interview identity that results in job offers.

How to answer interview questions about stress

Is a job interview a stressful situation?

  • When we experience something new
  • When something unexpected happens
  • When we feel we have little control over something

All three stress activators can happen during a job interview. On the other hand, a well prepared career professional will feel confident if they:

  • Carry mock interviews and/or attend public speaking training – this reduces the ‘something new’ fear
  • Understanding the job interview process – this helps overcome the ‘unexpected’ fear
  • Predict job interview questions and prepare strong answers – this creates control

Humans are confident in familiar situations. Routine, processes, the norm, are all things that reduce stress. This is why some career professionals who are unhappy at work don’t search for a new job. The fear or something new outweighs the fear of the staying in an unhappy job role.

On average career professionals look for work, and therefore attend job interviews, every three to five years. It is the lack of preparing and attending the interviews that increases their levels of stress.

Stress isn’t an on or off button, its more of a scale. The higher up the stress scale you are the worse the stress can affect you. Stress can:

  • Create pain – stomach cramps, headaches, etc
  • Stop you sleeping
  • Increase nail biting, grinding teeth, and jaw clenching
  • Make you irritable, sad, or depressed
  • Stops you eating as your body is in ‘flight or fight’ mode

How to answer interview questions about stress

Do Employers Make the Job Interview Stressful on Purpose?

The myth that all job interviews are difficult, with employers asking awkward curveball questions designed to increase pressure on the applicant is just that – a myth.

Employers may asked: ‘how do you handle stress?’ for stressful positions, or ask problem solving riddles in engineering, IT or mathematical roles but for most advertised vacancies each job interview question will be based on the essential criteria for the job role.

In fact, employers will go out of there way to make the interview an ‘enjoyable’ or at least informative. Think about it, a recruitment manager is looking to hire the best person for the role.

All employers know that job seekers will be attending several job interviews over a short period of time, often with a rival company. It is in the employers interest to hire the best applicant.

If the employer did created an unnecessary pressurized job interview environment it is quiet likely that the 1st choice candidate will take the job offer with another, more friendlier’ employer.

Most employers use a ‘structured job interview’ process, by familiarizing yourself with this process will help you feel more in control and less stressed.

How to answer interview questions about stress

Reduce Job Interview Stress

Some well known basic stress reducers include:

  • Drink water
  • Eat healthy
  • Regular exercise
  • Learn to say ‘no’ as this increases assertiveness
  • List your skills and talents as positive reflection increases confidence
  • Use deep breathing or mindfulness to feel more calm and in control
  • Use a blackout curtains and a soundless room (no mobile phones, etc) to get a good nights sleep

Negative self-talk

Remove negative self-talk.

  • ‘I’m not good enough’
  • ‘Others are better skilled then I am?
  • ‘I don’t have the relevant experience’

What you focus on you feel.

If you focus on negative statements you will feel negative. Instead focus on your strengths your skills, qualities and what you have to offer the new employer – your unique selling point.

  1. Make a list of your key skill set
  2. Reflect and record key experiences where your ideas, hard work or leadership resulted in a positive outcome
  3. Re-read past appraisals and focus on what a previous manager liked about you

Perception

Perception creates or reduces the power balance.

Viewing the job interview as a life or death situation increases the body’s flight or fight response.

Breakdown what a job interview is. At the bottom level, the interview is you talking about you. And you are the expert on you!

View the interview as a meeting where you are teaching other people about what you have learnt; your knowledge, your experiences, and the techniques you have picked up to get a job done.

Reframing a job interview changes the perceived power balance. Being stress makes you feel you have no power, no influence. Feeling confident about talking about you makes you feel powerful, invincible.

How to answer interview questions about stress

Interview Questions and Answers

Repetition is the key to mastering a skill and practice creates perfection.

The more job interviews you attend (or mock interviews) the more confident you will be as an interveiwee.

This is true with any task. To be a good tennis player, play more tennis. Master chefing by cooking on a regular basis. Learn to speak a second language practice, make mistakes, and learn.

First-choice applicants – career professionals who receive a high number of job offers, will follow the three rules for passing a job interview.

  1. Identifying the job criteria
  2. Being a self-promoter
  3. Communicating confidently

The more an interviewee practices job interview questions and answers, the better prepared they will be on the day in question.

Preparation equals confidence, confidence reduces stress.

How to answer interview questions about stress

Job Interview Procrastination

Stress is a barrier to action.

To avoid stress, job candidates will procrastinate – ‘I will start my preparation tomorrow’

When you hear yourself putting tasks off, you must STOP and take immediate action.

Can you suggest a good answer to the interview question “How do you handle stress?” I was asked that question on an interview last week. I wasn’t expecting it. I wasn’t sure what to say. How does anyone handle stress?

I just said “When I’m stressed out, I take a deep breath and remember that every day has its ups and downs.” I’m not sure the interviewer was impressed. Is there a better answer to that question?

Watch on Forbes:

Here is one way to answer the question.

How do you handle stress?

Let me tell you a quick story about that. I used to work an hour later than usual on Wednesdays to cover the phones for our department between five and six p.m. We had to keep the phone lines open to take care of our west coast customers.

When customers would call between five and six it was almost always because they’d received a shipment and something was wrong with it. A lot of the customers were really angry when they called. Of course any mistakes in packing and shipping were a tiny, tiny fraction of our total orders but those customers were still angry.

I had to calm people down every Wednesday night. I would let them vent.

Then I’d say “I’m glad you called. I completely understand why you are frustrated. Anyone would be. Let’s figure this out and make it right!” I learned to listen patiently. That helped my customers settle down and feel better, and it helped me manage my stress level, too.

A story that illustrates how you handle stressful situations is a million times more powerful than a clinical description of the steps you take to manage your stress. When you tell a story, the interviewer can see you in their mind’s eye, calming those customers on the phone and making them feel better. Stories pack a lot of punch!

I hate interview questions like this one, that ask a candidate to psychoanalyze themselves. Some interviewers swear by junk-science questions like “How do you handle stress?” but they are deluding themselves if they think their line of questioning will help them make better hires. Just because someone can crisply answer the question “How do you handle stress?” doesn’t mean that person is actually aware of their stress level in action, or has any special ability to manage their stress.

The interview question “How do you handle stress?” is fundamentally hypocritical, because we never talk about stress when things actually get stressful at work.

When is the last time you sat in a stressful staff meeting and heard your department manager say “Let’s talk about stress, you guys. Who feels stressed out right now? I know I do. How can we lower our stress level in the midst of this crisis? How can we take the long view and remember that these crises we’re dealing with are just silly business problems, and that nothing terrible will happen if we miss our goals this month?

“Your health is more important than meeting any dumb yardstick on the wall, you guys, and we all know it. Let’s not get confused about what’s really important — your health, your family and the relationships around you. Life comes first, and work comes second. No job is worth getting high blood pressure over. Let’s devote the rest of this meeting to brainstorming about ways to about reduce our stress!”

Interviewers say, “The how-do-you-handle-stress question gives me insight into the candidate’s self-awareness!”

Too bad the interviewer isn’t self-aware enough to know that a true interview is a two-way street. In an honest, professional job interview no one is analyzing anyone. In an upright job interview the interviewer doesn’t pull rank on the interviewee.

Sadly, too many interviewers fail to realize that the best way to interview candidates is to have a simple human conversation with them.

Some interviewers don’t understand that they are afraid to give up one drop of their petty bureaucratic power. They need to be on top and they need for a job applicant to be on the bottom. That’s sad. That attitude will keep them from being able to attract the best people to their organization.

In an authentic job interview two individuals with equal power in the hiring equation simply talk about some work that needs to be done, and determine whether the two of them are well-suited to do the work together. That’s all.

You have to wonder why some companies love to ask candidates “How do you handle stress?” Is it because they know their work environments are more stressful than they should be?

If you happen to be feeling cheeky one day and get this question you can answer this way:

How do you handle stress?

I work out every morning and do yoga so I don’t carry a lot of stress, but why do you ask? Is this a stressful work environment? Do you have too few people for the amount of work, or a high level of fear, or what?

Maybe soon we will reach the point where candidates can ask “By the way, is this a healthy, functional workplace? Do people tell the truth about problems here, and handle conflicts forthrightly and with mutual respect? Are your leaders ethical and honest here? Are employees valued and reinforced in this company?

“Is this work environment accepting of different points of view? How do you know your company is healthy? Can I hang out in the lunchroom one day over the lunch hour and ask the employees what they think about your culture?”

Most employers would not be cool with this line of questioning and that’s the real problem with the working world today. You as an applicant are supposed to grovel and beg for a job but the employer doesn’t want to air any of their dirty laundry, even though if they didn’t have a problem they wouldn’t have advertised for help in the first place.

I don’t want you to walk out of an interview just because someone asks you “How do you handle stress?” but I do want you to be aware of the interview dynamics.

If the interview is set up is as a dog-and-pony show during which you are supposed to please the interviewer but there is no energy expended in selling you on the opportunity, then you can assume that if you get the job you are not going to be treated like a valued collaborator.

You are going to be treated like a lower life form. That’s not good. You deserve better.

The interview process tells you all you need to know about a company’s culture!

Find out what recruiters really want to know when they ask questions about how you deal with stress. Learn how your answer can demonstrate your self-awareness, preparation skills, motivation and resilience.

No job will be entirely free of stress and, depending on the career you have chosen, stressful situations could be a regular occurrence of working life. Interviewers want to see that you will be able to handle the stresses of work, that you are aware of what you find stressful and that you are able to remain productive and professional in challenging situations.

‘How do you handle stress?’ (or a similar question such as ‘Describe a time when you successfully handled a stressful situation’ or ‘Describe a time when you had to show resilience’) is a fairly common interview question, but one that can be tricky to answer if you’re not sure what recruiters want to know.

How not to answer the question ‘How do you handle stress?’

  1. ‘I don’t get stressed.’
  2. ‘I know I get stressed by time limits and deadlines, so I avoid these entirely.’
  3. ‘Terribly. I completely stop functioning and can’t work at all.’
  4. ‘I know I’m stressed by managing multiple workloads, so I prepare by prioritising my tasks but it never works out and I always find myself falling behind.’
  5. ‘I’m motivated by stress.’

Why are these answers unlikely to get you the graduate job you want?

1. Recruiters don’t want to hear that you never feel stress, or that you’ve never been in a stressful situation. This is unlikely to the extent that, even if you were being entirely honest, recruiters may assume you’re being untruthful, which is never a good look in interviews.

2. It’s important to understand your own strengths and the responsibilities of the job you are applying for, so as to be able to strike a fine balance – showing that you are realistic about the stresses involved, but are confident that you can find ways to cope. This is where research and matching yourself with the competencies required for the job pays off. You need to be honest with yourself about what you want, particularly if you are applying for a job where deadline pressure is to be expected.

3 and 4. While honesty is key in interviews, it is possible to be too honest. No recruiters will be impressed to hear that you cannot operate at all under pressure. Stressful situations are likely in any job, so they probably won’t hire you if you make it sound like you are going to be unable to work whenever there is a heightened situation. Similarly, you want your answer to show you in a good light, so don’t choose to highlight an example that makes it seem as if you do not know how to react and prepare for stressful situations.

5. Being motivated by stress is a valid response, but may not really be answering the question that your interviewers have asked. Stress is different for everybody and so recruiters want to find out what your own personal response to stress is. Don’t respond in a way that could be seen as avoiding the question. Also, it is a tad clichéd.

What is the graduate employer really asking?

  • Do you know what situations you find stressful?
  • How do you react to situation not going to plan or situations that require resilience?
  • Do you know the job that you are applying for?
  • How do you stay motivated while working?

Recruiters want to see that you are aware of your working style and how you work best and that you are aware of what situations you find stressful; different things will stress different people. For example, some people may find juggling multiple tasks and working to a time limit stressful, while for others it may be motivating.

How should you tackle the question ‘How do you handle stress?’

Your answer needs to include evidence of a time when you successfully handled stress. Choose an example that is specific to what you find stressful and shows you to be self-aware, prepared and motivated to achieve your goals. If you need to, consider examples from outside of work experience, such as from extracurricular activities or your university course.

For example, if you find public speaking stressful your example could illustrate how you researched techniques for confident communication and prepared visual aids to assist you in carrying out a presentation.

You can structure your answer around the S ituation T ask A ction R esult model. Give the interviewer context for the situation and let them know what your goal was. The focus of your answer, however, should be on the actions you took to counteract and mitigate the stress and the (positive) result that this had.

You can practise your answers to tricky interview questions using resources from our partners at Shortlist.Me .

Demonstrating you can handle stress during assessment centres

Keep in mind that recruiters will also be looking at your behaviour and actions during assessment centres and interviews, as well as your answers to questions. Recruiters will be paying attention to how you behave in potentially stressful situations such as a video or face-to-face interview, group exercises, case studies and scenario-based exercises.

Act professionally, be considerate when working with others and focus on the success of the task in hand. You need to actively participate in the team exercise without appearing to dominate, as you want to show recruiters how you might behave in a stressful workplace situation.

It doesn’t matter which industry you work in, there are going to be days when you feel overwhelmed by stress. That’s perfectly normal, the important thing is how you react to that workplace stress since your behaviour will affect you and the people around you.

Stress manifests itself in lots of different ways. Some people suffer physical health problems like headaches, upset stomachs or disrupted sleep. For others, it changes their behaviour. They become irritable and angry or quiet and withdrawn which can have a huge impact on the people around them both at work and home. When employers are interviewing for a new role they will ask quite specific questions to understand how you reduce and manage stress at work. The way you react can have a huge impact on your team and the overall work environment.

How to Show you Can Manage Stress at Work

Some of the best ways to show an interviewer you can manage stress at work is to make sure they understand that you are:

  • Organised and Can Plan Effectively – It goes without saying that organised people who are good at planning projects and breaking them down into manageable tasks actually copy better at work and do not feel like the stress is killing them. The way you talk about your project management will clearly show the interviewer how organised you are.
  • Can Delegate Easily When Needed – Being able to delegate work tasks when you need to goes a long way to reducing your stress level especially for those who manage project teams and other staff. If you are applying for any role that involves leadership you need to prove you can delegate with ease.
  • Have a High Level of Emotional Intelligence – It may seem odd, but emotionally intelligent people suffer less stress bot physically and emotionally and maintain much better relationships at work. This is why emotional intelligence is regarded as one of the most important skills needed for great leadership.

Specific Behavioral Interview Questions About Stress Management

Employers will ask very specific behavioural interview questions to understand exactly how you react to stress and if you are able to reduce it. The following are 6 behavioural interview questions about stress management that you may face. You can link through to each post, there is a prepared answer for every question which you can use.

What has been the most stressful situation you have ever found yourself in at work? How did you handle it?

What have you done in the past to prevent a situation from becoming too stressful for you or your colleagues to handle?

Can you give me an example of a time when the demands of your job were constantly changing. How did you manage the situation?

Everyone reactis differently to time pressures. Can you give me an example of when you have had to cope with constant time pressures in your current role?

Which specific elements of your current role do you fine the most stressful?

Can you tell me about a time when you have received negative feedback from your manager or peers. How did you handle it?

How to answer interview questions about stress

Stress interview questions are designed to put the interviewee into an awkward situation, to see how they perform under stress. Some jobs require employees to work under stress, and some interviewers just like to see how applicants handle stressful questions.

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12 Stress Interview Questions:

  1. How do you feel this interview is going?
  2. How would you handle undeserved criticism from a superior?
  3. How many other jobs are you applying for?
  4. What would you do if you saw a colleague stealing supplies or equipment?
  5. What did you do when you had a boss you didn’t get along with?
  6. What would you do if a colleague took credit for your idea, and got a promotion?
  7. Was the stress of your previous job too much for you?
  8. What would you do if a colleague admitted to lying on their resume to get the job?
  9. What would you do if a customer verbally insulted you in front of co-workers?
  10. What would you change about the design of a baseball hat?
  11. Why were you fired from your previous job?
  12. How successful do you think you’ve been so far?

Next Steps:

If you’re looking for additional types of questions, you might be interested in our list of common interview questions or cultural fit interview questions. If you need questions specific to the job you’re hiring for, check out our interview questions directory.

What is a stress interview?

A stress interview is used to put an interviewee in an awkward position and to throw them off balance. It is designed to reveal how a candidate acts under pressure, deals with stress, and handles workplace conflict.

Are stress interviews effective?

There are various potential negatives to stress interviews.

  • Interview subjects are able to share more information when they feel relaxed and comfortable.
  • Confrontation can make interview subjects guarded and defensive.
  • Candidates who have negative interview experiences with your company are likely to tell other potential candidates, giving your company bad PR.

How do I conduct a good interview?

To be a good interviewer, you have to be prepared, ask the right questions, listen carefully, and evaluate the candidate to see if they’re the right fit for your company.

A Stress Interview is an interview in which the employer gathers a group of interviewers (i.e. panel interview) or uses an experienced interviewer to interview the candidate.
This interview is the most difficult interview one may face!

The Stress Interview

Using various psychological techniques, the interviewer tries to asses the reaction of the candidate to stressful situations and to a negative atmosphere – they do all they can to keep the interviewer off-balance during the interview.

One wouldn’t be able to guess that he/she’s attending this type of interview until he/she faces it. Because the purpose of this interview is to find out how the candidate reacts under pressure, it wouldn’t be wise to tell the candidate ahead of time so he/she can prepare.

The stress interview is in use for applications that require people to work under pressure – positions categorized as consistently having a relatively high level of stressful situations.

Stress Interview Tips

Stress Interview Techniques

The interviewer/s may employ various techniques to evaluate the applicant’s behavior under stress by trying to evoke an emotional reaction from the applicant.
Therefore, the interviewer may behave in an unexpected ways and also combine some of these methods, such as:

  • Displaying a hostile attitude
  • Being aggressive or arrogant
  • Behaving in an uninterested manner
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Interrupting during answers
  • Failing to “listen”
  • Taking notes
  • Taking long breaks – not speaking after answers
  • Asking irritating or ‘demanding’ questions
  • Disagreeing and arguing
  • Repeating the same questions
  • Asking sarcastically: “Is this your answer? Are you sure about that?”
  • Making you wait a long time before the interview starts

In the panel interview, one of the interviewers may play the “bad” guy while all the others are playing the ‘normal’ guys.

How Do You Handle Stress Interview Questions

You can turn this “bizarre” stress interview around, if you do not overreact when facing this type of behavior and these irritating questions.
Here are some tips on how to answer:

  • Don’t take it personally and don’t get insulted – this is a ‘game’
  • Be calm and don’t get confused – remain tactful
  • Provide clear answers and don’t change an answer just because you get a bad reaction

How to answer an interview question: how do you handle stress at work?

In many interviews, interviewers often ask this question – “how do you deal with stress at work” or how do you handle a stressful situation at work such as: emergency, high workload, busy environment, too many tasks at once etc.
Below are some tips on how to answer:

How to answer interview questions about stress

For many, a job interview seems like the only barrier that keeps them from becoming employed. They know that they are a great worker–intelligent, hard-working, motivated–but they just get so nervous during job interviews that they feel like no one will accept them until they get out of their own way.

Maybe you are this person. If so, you will be pleased to know that we are going to discuss how to be less nervous during the interview process and how to answer stress-related behavioral questions during the interview in this article.

Tips for a Good Interview

As Adam Smith said in his book, The Money Game, “The first thing you have to know is yourself. A man who knows himself can step outside himself and watch his own reactions like an observer.”

The first tip that I can give you is to know yourself. Study who you are, what makes you special (because every person, especially you, is special), and be prepared to talk about your strengths. Interviewers really don’t care about your experience…they want to know about your soft skills –people skills.

Don’t worry if you don’t have killer experience. If they gave you the interview, they thought your resume said you had enough for what they needed. Instead, think about how the things that you have done in the past speak well of your soft skills and who you are as a person.

So, what are some of the questions that an interviewer might ask you? Personally, I think that the list of possibilities that LiveCareer has created is an exemplary representation of typical behavioral interview questions. Having interviewed a number of times now, I can tell you that these questions are right on point.

Study those questions and learn the answers to them as they relate to your personal experience. With that said, I want to direct your attention to what is probably the most important question during the interview process: “ How do you deal with pressure or stressful situations?

Unfortunately, this is not a question that I can answer for you. I can tell you this, though: don’t lie . If you do not deal with stress well, now is the time to learn how to do so. Then, you can answer this question in full confidence and with full assurance.

Conquering the Root Cause of Stress

“Stress” is the fear of most things that will never happen. Risk management is the preparation for things that probably will happen. These are two very different things. If you struggle with stress, you either struggle with a lack of preparation or with a fear of the future.

Struggling with stress due to a lack of preparation is easy to fix: learn to prepare better. However, struggling with fear of the future is something that has to be solved through different means. No one can control the future–this is fact. All you can control is what you can control.

For me, eliminating stress simply means doing the best with what I have control over and then being okay with the outcome…no matter what that outcome is. If you have prepared well and given it your best, then you are successful.

So, when the interview question comes up about work-related stress and stress management , take cues from past experiences where you have done exactly what is listed above; you have prepared well, done your best, and then let the chips fall wherever they may. Truly, this is the answer that any firm wants to hear.

In reality, we are all human and none of us are perfect. A firm wants to see that you have the humility to recognize this while also having the confidence to say that, no matter what the situation is, you try your hardest and then settle yourself well with the coming outcome.

Putting it All Together

See, the key to doing well in an interview is really the same as the answer to the stress-related interview question: prepare well, do your best, be yourself, and let the chips fall where they may. If it doesn’t turn out like you wanted, that’s okay. The firm just missed a great employee!

Of course, all of this doesn’t mean that you can’t make workplace stress claims once you are employed. Every firm understands that their employees get overworked and stressed out from time to time. However, a firm would probably rather prefer that you take some vacation days than that you get to this point!

One of the most common HR interview questions is “How do you manage your stress?” or “How do you handle stress?” On this page, you will find how you can answer these questions in an HR Interview.

Page Highlights:

  • Why: “How do you handle stress” question is asked?
  • How to Answer: “How do you manage stress?”
  • Best Answers for: “How do you manage stress?”

Why: “How do you handle stress” question is asked?

Stress is a compulsory part of jobs. No matter the position or profile stress comes with every job. The aim of asking this question is to see what a candidate considers “stressful” and how they manage said “stressful” situations. There can be various things depending on the individual as to what is causing them stress. For some, it could be not meeting deadlines and for some, it could be not getting the desired outcome. Similarly, stress coping mechanisms are different for each individual. A candidate with a healthy stress coping mechanism will be good for the company.

How to Answer: “How do you manage stress?”

This question is tricky and you have to answer accordingly. Simply saying that you do not take any stress will come off as pretentious or not considerate. However, if you make it sound like you are someone who stresses over everything then you will be considered an unreliable employee.

Below we have mentioned some guidelines on how you can answer this question:-

How to answer interview questions about stress

Hiring managers ask interview questions about all kinds of things—your background, your experience, your successes, your failures, and all kinds of day-to-day issues. One of the things they may want to know is how you handle stress or pressure on the job.

Most jobs have elements of stress or pressure, and how you behave in response to that stress greatly affects how you perform and how you affect the work environment for others. Here are three sample questions and answers for you to consider before your next job interview:

1. How Do You Handle Stress And Pressure On The Job?

This question is pretty straightforward. You may be tempted to say, “I handle it just fine,” or “It motivates me to work harder.” Even though these seem like good answers, you’ll be better off if you can give them a little more insight into you and the way you think. For instance, a more effective way to respond may be to say, “I’ve learned that, in times of stress, it’s very important to prioritize my tasks so I can continue to be productive,” and then give an example using the STAR or “Experience + Learn = Grow” technique.

However you’ve learned to deal with stressful situations, it’s nice to follow up your response with an example of how you’ve put that approach to the test. Your example would include the steps you took to think about what had to be done and decide on priorities.

2. Describe A Time When Your Workload Was Heavy And How You Handled It.

This question is essentially asking the same thing as the direct, straightforward question above, but specifically asks for a story. Don’t just say that you buckled down and stayed until the work was done. That does show you as someone who finishes a job no matter what, but you’ll make yourself stand out more if you choose an example that walks them through how you approach and solve problems.

Highlight your critical thinking skills. Usually this will touch on how you had to look at the situation critically and prioritize what needed to be done immediately and what could wait (or what could be delegated). Walk them through why you chose what you chose and what the results were.

3. Describe A Time When Your Work Was Criticized And How You Handled It.

Isn’t it always a bit stressful when our work is criticized? No one’s perfect, so chances are you had your work criticized in the past (and will again in the future). To become better at anything, you must be open to constructive criticism and willing to learn from it. Learning and improving are what will make you even more valuable as you grow in your career.

Tell the hiring manager about a situation that is preferably far in your past and isn’t directly related to important tasks of the job you’re interviewing for. (Accountants may not want to talk about how you miscalculated a budget forecast because of a math problem—but telling a story about what you learned from a difficult situation with a project team member that made you a much better communicator would be great.) Explain the situation you were criticized for, the action you took to learn from or correct the situation, and the end result (STAR technique). Your goal is to show how you improved and became a better professional because of it.

Before your next job interview, practice answering the above questions about how you handle stress. That way, you’ll be better prepared to answer with a response that will surely impress hiring managers and make you stand out from the competition.

**Need more in-depth interview answers? Download Career Confidential’s Free eBook, How to Answer Interview Questions – 50 Tough Questions Answered, to learn the best strategies and answers for your next interview.

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How to answer interview questions about stress

Don’t let a stress interview add to your already-established job-search stress.

Job interviews are already pretty stressful, so is there any real difference between a typical interview and a stress interview?

The answer is yes. A stress interview is an interviewing style that companies use to gauge a candidate’s response to stress. The idea is that it’ll give the hiring team an idea of how you’ll respond when juggling various high-priority tasks, dealing with challenging clients, or facing a difficult co-worker or manager. Will you cry? Will you walk out of the room? Will you freeze up? Or will you calmly problem solve and face the situation with grace?

Before you get too stressed out, let’s go over what you can expect during a stress interview.

What to expect during a stress interview

Stress-interviewing tactics vary, but you might experience a slew of intimidating — even uncomfortable — questions. For example, you could be asked: Why were you fired? How do you think this interview is going? Why did you apply for this job when you don’t have enough experience? What other companies are you interviewing with? Do you think I’m a good interviewer?

Then you might get hit with a few brainteaser questions. These questions have no one correct answer; they’re designed to stump you — or hopefully showcase your problem-solving skills. Some examples of these questions include: How many Skittles would fit in this room? How would you sell this pen to someone? How would you deal with a co-worker that you caught stealing?

Finally, the interviewer might act downright rude. You walk into the room, and he’s hunched behind the computer screen — doesn’t acknowledge you. Or he might tell you he doesn’t like your answer — to try again. He could also outright tell you that you’re not the right fit — that you need to convince him otherwise.

How to prepare for — and cope during — a stress interview

Feeling stressed and haven’t even walked into your stress interview yet? Don’t panic; that won’t help. Here are some simple ways to prepare for a stress interview — and how to keep your cool:

1. Research the company

Don’t assume you’re walking into a stress interview. That’s going to add even more anxiety to an already stressful situation.

In order to gain a better understanding of what to expect, ask the company’s recruiter or your point of contact what type of interview style you should expect. You might also ask for some sample questions. The internet can offer some insight, as well. Check out Glassdoor’s interview section to see if past candidates have posted comments or sample interview questions.

2. Remember to take your time … and breathe

This goes for any interview — but especially in stress interviews. Don’t forget to pause and breathe. If the interviewer is setting a fast pace, it’s easy to get wrapped into it. If you need to take a moment to regain composure, take a deep breath and ask the interviewer to repeat the question. This gives you some time to calm your nerves and think about your answer.

You can also try asking the interviewer some questions about the company. This will allow you to take a deep breath and reset.

3. Practice and seek feedback

The best way to shake the anxiety that’ll inevitably tag along with a stress interview? Practice!

But not sure how to practice for a stress interview in particular? If you’re feeling unprepared and jittery, enlist the help of an interview coach.

With an interview coach, you’ll be able to run through a mock stress interview (no side laughter like you’d get from your spouse, parents, friends, etc.) and receive a professional’s feedback. Use the session to gain confidence and practice answering intense questions; then apply the feedback you receive to the real thing and you’ll be better positioned for success.

Feeling stressed and want to practice for your upcoming stress interview? Our expert TopInterview coaches can help.

At some point during a job interview, your interviewer may ask, “How do you handle stress?” Everyone experiences stress, at least occasionally. During your interview, you can demonstrate what steps you take to manage it. Follow these tips to answer the question honestly and thoughtfully.

Why interviewers ask you, ‘How do you handle stress?’

When the interviewer asks you , ‘How do you handle stress?’, they want to know how you react in stressful situations, as well as how your reaction will affect your teammates and the company overall.

You must be prepared to respond in an honest, thorough way. You can share examples of when you successfully handled stress at work and outside of the job, and how those situations brought out your creativity and productivity.

What you can do to prepare for this question before your interview

Before going to an interview, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What caused a stressful situation I found myself in?
  • How did I immediately react to this stressful situation?
  • Did the stress interfere with my work?
  • Was I able to alleviate my stress? How?
  • What could I have done differently to improve the situation?

You can write down these questions and your responses to help plan how to best answer.

How to answer, ‘How do you handle stress?’ in an interview

Follow these steps to answer the interview question, ‘How do you handle stress?’ so you can impress the employer and get hired:

1. Maintain good eye contact with the interviewer.

You should try to maintain regular eye contact throughout the interview. This lets your interviewer know you are engaged and helps show that you are confident and honest.

2. Give at least one example of how you have managed stress.

It is one thing to talk about how you handle stress, but you may want to support that statement with a clear example.

For example, say you had to finish a project with a short deadline but one person on your team was sick. If you managed to delegate that person’s tasks evenly among the remaining teammates, you will want to talk about how your thought process and consideration allowed your team to finish the project on time. Be honest because your interviewer may want to verify that example, if possible.

3. Only mention situations where you successfully managed stress.

You can include work examples or personal examples—provided they lead to your overall productivity.

4. Focus on positive aspects.

Even if you have already discussed your strengths and weaknesses, this is another opportunity to show your strengths. Think about the best things you have done to manage stress and the positive consequences.

For example, talk about a situation in which you were able to think on your feet, how you were able to communicate effectively with teammates and managers, and how you were able to break down larger tasks into smaller, more manageable tasks. Perhaps your method led to an improvement in company policies.

5. Make sure the interviewer knows you are used to managing stress.

This is especially helpful if you are applying for a high-stress job. Your examples must support this statement.

6. Use action-oriented statements.

When giving examples, focus on what you did to solve a problem, not on how you felt. The interviewer needs to know that you are proactive, can remain calm and make quick decisions when necessary.

7. Tailor your example to the job you are applying for.

Relate how you can apply your stress-relief techniques and thought processes. Take the opportunity to highlight any relevant skills you used to solve problems in stressful situations.

To best answer the question about how you handle stress, you must think about the moments where you have dealt with stress, particularly in the workplace. Take some time before the interview to identify some examples that show you are motivated by healthy pressure, you know how to plan ahead, you can set boundaries, you know your limits and you like to maintain good communication.

How to answer interview questions about stress

Job Interview Question – How do you handle stress and pressure?

Purpose of the question:

The job interview question, “How do you handle stress and pressure?” is a typical question which is asked to check how you cope and handle the pressure while working under a project or in typical working day.

Sample question:

Tell me about your ability to work under pressure.How do you handle stress and pressure?

Your Answer should be:

As a strong candidate for the job position, you must answer this question smartly and by adding few examples from your real life. Every company faces tremendous pressure in most of the time. As they come close to deadlines of the project, the intensity level increases.

The best way to handle stress and pressure is to keep calm. But this is a rare virtue and everyone cannot obtain it. The bigger the company is, the more stress and pressure they have to handle.Working under pressure is a special quality and interviewers want to see this trait in an interviewee.

A perfect answer of this question can reveal some of your other qualities as well. So arrange it in a nice way and reply with strong voice. A sample answer could be:“I observed that my best work usually comes out when I am under pressure. When I am close to the deadline or a particular project that is specified to me, I become more serious than a normal routine day. Then I know I have a target ahead where I have to reach at anyhow. I can calculate at which pace I should go to achieve this. Also, I plan to complete any project minimum a couple of days in prior to the deadline. So if suddenly any unforeseen problems arise, I still have the time to check it out and solve. Thus I can only say, I am more efficient and productive when I am stressful. I know as long as I am not reaching my goal, getting rid of stress is not possible.”Under unusual circumstances, such as under pressure and stress, people become more creative and try to find a shorter path to achieve success because of more workload and less time.

This is quite natural and such qualities are found more or less to people who fall under stress occasionally. So, pressure brings out the best of him. You can add this quality in the answer. Beside this, you can add something like you go to the gym, take a deep breath or go for a long drive to remove stress. So when you get back to work, you are fresher and more enthusiastic.

How to answer interview questions about stress

Employers often ask job applicants how they handle pressure on jobs. That’s because managers in companies are problem solvers and face some degree of stress everyday. And, if candidates want to work for these companies, they must also know how to deal with pressure. Several responses suffice as responses to this question. However, it’s best to provide specific examples of when you dealt with pressure, and share any results you achieved in stressful situations.

Indentification and Poise

Interviewers want to make sure you can identify pressure situations — which aren’t always clear-cut — when they ask how you handle them. Pressure usually stems from too much work, a lack of direction or a lack of experience, according to the ModernAnalyst website. Maintain your poise when telling “how you handle pressure” on a job. Sit up straight, stay calm, look the interviewer in the eye and respond. This type of posture demonstrates that you are confident in yourself, which, in turn, evokes confidence in the interviewer about your ability to handle pressure.

Acceptable Answers

Use one of several responses to adequately answer this question. Say that you are organized and usually plan ahead to meet project deadlines, but also allow extra time for delays or unforeseeable events. That way you alleviate pressure situations. Tell the interviewer pressure motivates you to perform better and that you typically thrive in these situations. If you deal with customers, say, “I realize when customers get upset, it’s not about me. Then, I resolve their problems and make them feel better.”

Provide Examples

Use a story format when responding to the, “How do you handle pressure?” question, as people tend to remember stories better than lists, according to the career center at San Francisco State University. Incorporate the SAR approach to storytelling, which stands for situation, action and result. For example, as a market research analyst, you might have been asked to complete your customer surveys, analysis and report a week early — the situation. Your actions were to contact the supplier, increase the number of daily survey completions and request the data tables a week earlier. And your result was completing the project a day in advance. Whenever possible, provide measurable results to interviewers. Under pressure, you might have increased sales 10 percent one month as a sales rep, for example.

Unacceptable Responses

Unacceptable responses to the question about handling pressure are either admitting that you don’t handle pressure well, or saying that you handle pressure but don’t explain. Don’t let this question take you by surprise in an interview. Formulate a suitable response in advance — one that pertains to your career. Practice rehearsing it with a spouse or friend, and be prepared to answer the question in every interview.

How to answer interview questions about stress

Tell me about a time you handled a stressful situation at work.

You know the feeling of being overwhelmed and stressed out, whether in school, work, or with pretty much anything. We all have! Continuing with our How To Answer series, we’re covering ‘tell me about a time you handled a stressful situation at work.’ Your interviewer might ask you this because they want to know how you handle challenges. Since you will likely experience some sort of stress in the job you are applying for, your potential employers want to know what you do when facing this type of challenge. After all, your behavior will impact your work, your coworkers, and the company!

Reflect on Challenges

It’s time to brainstorm. There are a few things you should keep in mind when trying to answer this question. Your interviewer wants to know if you will be able to handle the position you are applying for. You need to think about two things in particular. First, the job description. What will your role be like? Think of some challenges you might face at this new job. Second, think of a similar challenge you faced in another situation.

Your response does not have to be one where you solved a big problem or saved the day – it can be a simple situation in which there was a positive outcome as a result of your actions. Maybe you worked at a retail store and one day there weren’t enough employees scheduled, or maybe you were working on a group project for school and your partner was not contributing. Here’s an example:

Recently, I was working as a cashier at Whole Foods. A customer put in a catering order, but for some reason, the order came in late. The customer came to pick up the order but it wasn’t ready. I had to quickly figure out how to assure the customer while getting someone to prepare her order. We ended up giving her a discount on her order, and she was very satisfied with our service. Even though it was a stressful situation, I had to act quickly and make sure we didn’t lose her business.

What (Not) To Do:

Let’s talk about some good, and not so good things to do when answering this question.

If you are not great at coping with stress, you should not say that explicitly. Instead, you can talk about how you do not view stress as something bad, but rather something that you learn from each time. As long as you are honest, you can find a way to frame your skills positively. For example, “I’ve found myself in many stressful situations in the past, but it has always been something that motivates me to get my work done, stay proactive, and productive.” This will impress your employer as they want someone who looks at problems as challenges to overcome, not roadblocks.

You should always give an example. If you simply describe your skills to an employer, they are likely not going to remember what you said. People remember stories better than facts. Also, it is much more believable when you share a story about your skills, rather than just talking about them. The best thing you can do is talk about what you learned from your experience.

I have learned a lot from previous experience in stressful situations. They motivate me to be productive and stay on task. One experience that I remember was when I ended up having 4 exams in one week. It was extremely stressful, but I knew that I had to do them, so I learned how to manage my time much more efficiently. Stressful situations help me learn new things.

Final tips

Avoid saying anything like “stress doesn’t affect me” because even though you might think this sounds great to an interviewer, it doesn’t. Stress is inevitable in the workplace, and it should motivate you to do better. If stress doesn’t affect you, an employer might see you as unmotivated! It is also a good rule to keep emotions and blame out of your response. Focus on how YOU handled this moment, and why what skills YOU gained. Finally, try to pick a situation where you weren’t the cause of the problem. For instance, don’t mention the time that you didn’t do research on your work project and ended up delivering something late to your team.

There’s no perfect way to handle stress, and everyone has different methods and techniques to overcome it. As long as you are positive and demonstrate what you learned from your stressful experience, your interviewer will be satisfied with your answer.

How have you handled stressful situations in the past? Let us know! Follow us on LinkedIn to help grow your network, and learn more about our tips!

Prepare for your Waitress interview by going through these most asked Waitress interview questions. Additionally, get access to sample answers and interviewer’s expectations.

Search Waitress Questions:

  • Question: What makes you think that you are qualified for this position?

Question Overview: Waitresses are often required to deal with many tasks at once. During rush hours, one server might have four to five tables at the same time. The ideal candidate will understand the importance of time management and presenting each patron with a pleasant demeanor. Focus on the applicant's tone when discussing how they would handle a busy shift. Are they able to stay calm under pressure?

Sample Answer: I believe that I am qualified for this position because I have experience serving a variety of different types of customers and I am always willing to learn new things. I am detail-oriented and I am able to multitask during busy shifts.

    What the interviewer is looking for:
  • – Positive personality
  • – Strong interpersonal skills
  • – Time management skills

Question Overview: As a waitress, you will often be faced with difficult situations. The ideal candidate will be able to discuss a time they had to deal with a difficult customer and how they handled the situation. Focus on the applicant's ability to remain calm and positive during the experience.

Sample Answer: In my last position, I once assisted a patron who was upset about her meal as she felt it was cold. I had the chef remake her meal, and I gave her a free appetizer to ensure that she had a satisfactory experience.

    What the interviewer is looking for:
  • – Ability to remain calm under pressure
  • – Positive attitude
  • – Ability to handle difficult situations

Question Overview: As a waitress, you will have to deal with many different types of people. The ideal candidate will show how they would handle a situation where a customer is upset about an incorrect order. Focus on the applicant's ability to remain calm and offer solutions to the problem.

Sample Answer: If a customer was upset about an incorrect order, I would first apologize and ask if they would like me to remake the meal. If they were still upset, I would offer them a free appetizer or dessert to make up for the inconvenience.

    What the interviewer is looking for:
  • – Ability to remain calm under pressure
  • – Ability to explain the situation and offer solutions
  • – Critical thinking skills

Question Overview: This is a great question to ask a waitress because it will allow you to gauge their values and how they handle situations. The ideal candidate will have a strong sense of integrity and will be able to explain how they have demonstrated this trait in their past jobs.

Sample Answer: Integrity means being honest with others and myself. I always strive to be truthful and honest in my interactions with others.

    What the interviewer is looking for:
  • – Honesty
  • – Trustworthiness
  • – Positive attitude

Question Overview: As a waitress, you will often be required to solve problems for customers. The ideal candidate will be able to think quickly and offer solutions to issues. Focus on the applicant's ability to remain calm and think of a solution to a problem.

Sample Answer: I would first ask the customer if they are okay with the situation and if they need anything else. If they are not satisfied, I would ask them what they would like me to do. I would then try to find a solution that works for both parties.

    What the interviewer is looking for:
  • – Ability to remain calm under pressure
  • – Critical thinking skills
  • – Problem-solving skills

Question Overview: As a restaurant manager, you want to know what might be a difficult adjustment for the applicant to work with you. The ideal candidate will be honest about their strengths and weaknesses. Focus on the applicant's ability to be honest about their shortcomings.

Sample Answer: I would need some time to adjust to working with a new manager as I have worked for the same manager for the past five years.

    What the interviewer is looking for:
  • – Honesty
  • – Willingness to learn
  • – Ability to work with others

Question Overview: In the restaurant industry, there are many different types of people. Some are pleasant, while others can be difficult to deal with. The ideal candidate will show how they would handle a bad customer and how they would resolve the situation. Focus on the applicant's ability to remain calm and their ability to listen to the patron's concerns.

Sample Answer: I would always make sure to listen to the customer's concerns and offer them a solution. I would also make sure to document any negative feedback so that I could share it with my manager.

    What the interviewer is looking for:
  • – Ability to remain calm under pressure
  • – Listening skills
  • – Communication skills

Question Overview: As a waitress, you will often be under pressure to perform at a high level. The ideal candidate will demonstrate how they handle stressful situations. Focus on the applicant's ability to remain calm and think clearly when discussing a time when they were under stress.

Sample Answer: I once had a customer who was upset about his meal, and he wanted to speak with the manager. I remained calm and explained that I could not get the manager at that time, but I would relay his concerns.

    What the interviewer is looking for:
  • – Ability to remain calm under pressure
  • – Ability to think clearly
  • – Ability to stay focused

Question Overview: This is a great question to ask a waitress because it will allow you to gauge their interest in the company. The ideal candidate will be able to give you a few reasons why they want to work for your restaurant. Focus on the applicant's enthusiasm and their ability to be a team player.

Sample Answer: I have always wanted to work for your restaurant because I have heard great things about it from my friends. I am excited to learn more about the company and get started.

How to answer interview questions about stress

Work is stressful, and despite what your job is, at some point in everybody’s life, a little pressure is going to come your way and an the employer wants to identify if you’re the form of person who is going to be talented to the knob that stresses competently, or if you’re going to end up a breakdown like an old cookie.

So, to answer this interview question acceptably, below, we have mentioned some points that one can go through and formulate the answer accordingly.

What is the interviewer is looking for?

When they ask you, ‘how do you deal with pressure or stressful situation?’, what the interviewer wants to know is what you would do in potentially demanding work situations and the force that may have on how you execute in the role. They want to observe that you know yourself and that you are geared up to face stressful situations in the outlook.

How to answer “How do you deal with pressure or stressful situation”?

Focus on positive examples:

The final thing an interviewer wants to listen to is about a time you were stressed because of something you did that was reckless or unethical, particularly if the situation was utterly unnecessary.

Highlight the skills you used:

Dealing with stress in a well and positive way can aid you to study and sharpen skills an employer will see as precious. Talk about things like organization, time management, prioritization, and attention to detail.

Talk about how pressure motivates you:

Tell the interviewer how pressure or stress can inspire you to clip down, focus, and work actively to get assignments done. Often, the pressure of a deadline can prompt people to prioritize and systematize their work to assemble those due dates.

Mention goal and outcomes:

A good motivator to go through a stressful situation can frequently repeat outcomes and what you hope to accomplish with a project. Taking a step back and recall what you’re working towards can assist you in getting through the force of a challenging project.

Modify your example:

Confirm you’re sharing a story that relates to the job you’re applying for. Do not form a story that does not lead to any profitable terms, and also, the example should be related to the applied job role.

Mistakes to avoid:

Don’t tell things that could have been avoided:

When chatting about how you’ve dealt with stress in the earlier period, try not to talk about times when you put yourself in situations that could have been prohibited. That’s a weakness, not an achievement.

Try not to bring up job responsibilities as stressors:

Do your greatest to avoid saying that you were worried by a situation that you’ll frequently run into at the job you’re interviewing for. The hiring manager will be anxious if you can’t know the primary responsibilities of the position.

Don’t say that you don’t handle pressure well:

Don’t say that you don’t work fine in stressful situations or bring up a time when you couldn’t execute your job productively because you were strained out. Pressure can be a good thing. Try to depict it as a motivator instead of something that prevents you from getting work done.

Don’t say anything weird:

Try not to talk about that your much-loved stress-reliever is going out with friends, playing beer pong, or just totally checking out from work and taking a nap for a time.

Examples Answer “How do you deal with pressure or stressful situations”?

Example 1:

Communication is one of the most excellent ways to direct stressful and high-pressure surroundings, as I discover that most stress that people sense is due to perplexity and not feeling clear about what to do. Talking things through and being in stable communication about what requires to be done and asking people what they need to get their job done is a method that I’ve beforehand handled stressful situations in a management role, keeping the whole team calmer.”

Example 2:

I supervise stress by working out and meditating. I discover that if I spend time outside of the work surroundings focusing on my consciousness and creating a calm interior state, I am far more beached during the day no matter what happens.

Example 3:

I often find that stress is an immense motivator for me, and I work fine under the pressure of a deadline for numerous projects at once. As a performer, I frequently find that I create my most original work when working with limits in place.

I lately had projects in the works for numerous clients, but the pressure of the situation just motivated me to work harder and more professionally. I was able to bring great finished products for each of the clients, and they were all pleased with the final result.

Example 4:

One of the most efficient ways that I’ve set up to deal with a stressful situation at work is to obtain a step back and observe the situation from a more purpose viewpoint. It’s far easier for me to then see what requires doing and staying out of the power of stress, keeping calm and patenting to move onto the subsequent step.

In a job interview, your goal as a job seeker is to persuade the interviewer that you are a perfect candidate. That is why the question “What is your biggest weakness” is one of the hardest to answer. This question forces you to express your flaws and vulnerabilities, and if answered incorrectly it can communicate that you are actually not the right candidate for the job. Even though this question always feels like a landmine, if approached correctly, it can increase your chances of getting hired. This is the best way to answer “What is your biggest weakness”.

  1. Do not dodge the answer

First, make sure you always give a concrete answer. Replies like “I can’t think of a weakness” or “I don’t think I have one” communicates that you are either hiding something or lack self-awareness. We are all humans, and as such we are flawed in one way or another. Before your interview, think of multiple weaknesses that you are comfortable talking about and decide which one to use according to the flow of the conversation.

  1. Do not present a strength as a weakness

You might think that it is a clever idea to say “my biggest weakness is that I am a perfectionist” or “I work too hard” but portraying desirable attributes as weaknesses is the wrong answer. Hiring managers have heard these answers countless times, so much so, that it has become a cliché. These answers now communicate insincerity and a lack of respect for the interviewer.

  1. Approach the question with positivity

Now that you know the two biggest don’ts of answering this question let’s discuss how to address it. While the question “What is your biggest weakness” feels negative, it does not need to be approached that way. Be honest in your answer and dress your weaknesses in a positive light. In your answer communicate that you are not ignorant of your weaknesses, but instead, you recognize them and are proactively working on them. Also, avoid using negative words or phrases like “I fail at” or “I am unable to”. You do not want to sound fatalistic but instead confident in yourself.

  1. Use a weakness that does not affect your performance in the job

If you are applying for an accounting job do not say that you need to increase your Microsoft Excel proficiency. Only name weaknesses that are not necessary or related to the position that you are applying for. For example: If you are applying for a graphic design position that does not require you to create online content. You can say “So far, I have not had the need of creating content and copy for social and online platforms, but I have seen the need for this skill in my field. In turn, I have taken several online courses on copywriting and social media content creation to grow in this specific area”. This is a great answer because it shows that you recognize the areas that you need to work on to become a better professional in your field, but this lack of knowledge will not hold you from performing in the job. To make sure you choose the correct weaknesses to discuss in your interview, closely read the job description and eliminate any listed software, skills, and qualifications that are necessary for the role.

  1. Tell it like a story

The most persuasive way of answering this interview question is by portraying it like a story with a beginning, middle, and end. The beginning of your story should tell how you came to understand your weakness. The middle should explain the steps you took to overcome such weakness. Finally, the end should accentuate the outcome that you achieved or are expecting to achieve. For example: If your weakness is public speaking you could say “I have always been comfortable speaking in meetings among coworkers, yet I did not know I had trouble with strangers until I had to speak at a conference a year ago. I noticed that big crowds make me nervous, so I decided to look for help online by watching videos and reading articles on public speaking, learning some speech exercises, and volunteering to speak in public as much as possible. Today, I feel much more capable of speaking in public. I still get a bit nervous before I start talking, but once I start, I feel right at home”. This answer tells a concise but powerful story of your proactivity, by explaining how you noticed your weakness, took action, and conquered it.

Examples of “What is your biggest weakness” answers

So, taking these five points into account. How should you answer this question? Here are some great examples:

Weakness: Procrastination

In the past, I used to leave my tasks for the last minute as I feel like I work better under tight deadlines, yet I noticed that this was just an excuse to procrastinate. In turn, I decided to leave this bad habit behind and work on my tasks ahead of time. In order to not lower my performance and energy, I now give myself personal deadlines and goals to complete my work early. This new approach does not only help me get my work done ahead of time, but it provides me with extra time to go back and look at my work critically to find ways to make it better.

This is a great answer because: It tells a story of how you noticed that procrastination was a problem, how you devised a plan against it, and how you turned it into a strength.

Weakness: Forgetfulness

About a year ago I noticed that I tend to forget about work once the day is over, and this resulted in me forgetting job-related tasks and not getting them done unless I was reminded. To fix this, I devised a system by adding scheduled reminders to my phone and having a physical calendar next to my desk that I look at every day when I get to the office. Ever since I started reminding myself of my tasks through digital and physical means I have not missed a deadline or gone through the stress of having to get something done in a rush because I forgot about it.

This is a great answer because: It shows how you noticed that your forgetfulness is a weakness, you developed a system of reminders, and through this solution you are now able to excel at your job.

The question “what is your biggest weakness” is classified by many as one of the hardest interview questions. Yet, if you approach it with a positive attitude, and tell a compelling story about how you are proactively working on your weaknesses, you can increase your chances of getting hired by developing an answer that communicates how strong of a professional you really are. We hope these tips help you impress the hiring manager and excel in your next interview. Just remember to always show confidence and keep your answer concise.

Job interviews are a challenge for everyone in that you cannot help but be nervous about coming across well to the interviewers.

Job interviews make everyone nervous

Even those people who are confident in their abilities and confident in their knowledge of the company, they still worry about coming across as they want to during the interview process.

Even an interview that is hours long is no substitute for really seeing a person in action.

Those who are prepared with experience and knowledge are ahead of the game and simply need to be calm and collected for that confidence to show.

One of the most popular job interview questions is ‘how do you handle pressure and stress’? It is important to realize that the desired answer to this question is NOT ‘I do not get stressed.’ Everyone feels pressure and stress, the interviewing person or panel wants to know your approach to the inevitable feelings that come with most jobs at some point or another.

Take the time to consider this question well in advance and make some clear and concise notes to yourself before the interview.

This is a question that is almost sure to be asked in some form or fashion at your job interview. By doing your homework in the days leading up to the interview you can work on the foundation of your answer to such a question.

How to answer interview questions about stress

Then when you are asked, you can tailor your response to fit the situation. Preparation is key, for by thinking about such questions ahead of time, you can formulate a concise and to the point response.

Sample interview answers for dealing with stress

1. When dealing with pressure and stress, I take a moment to prioritize what I have going on. Pressure to perform well is a good kind of pressure as long as I do not allow it to become negative stress. I prioritize what is truly most important and focus on getting that done and done well.

2. I do not respond to stress but to the situation. I analyze the situation and take action that will avoid negative stress.

3. I work best under pressure, for other things do not distract or lure me from the task at hand.

4. I have learned the differences between negative stress and positive pressure and react accordingly. I reduce negative stress by dealing with the situation and perform under positive pressure by doing my best work.

5. I do not typically have problems with stress. I simply prioritize, focus and get the job done.

Handling the stresses and pressures that come with a job is part of life that most people know they have to find their handle on. Know yourself, know how you react to stress and how to avoid negative stress that makes you sick or less productive. By knowing yourself and your reactions, you then can work on how to handle stress and pressure effectively.

There is a better way to ask job interview questions. In this blog post, I’m covering how to tell if your interview questions suck – and what to do about it.

The three traps of sucky interview questions

The point of an interview is to assess a candidate’s qualifications for the job, both technical and behavioural. So questions that “suck” are questions that don’t help you reach that goal. And usually, these questions fall into one of three traps.

1. The too-complex trap

As much of the Western working world evolved from manufacturing to brain work (even in manual labour jobs), recruiters needed a new set of job interviews. Unfortunately, pseudo-psychology thought leaders ruled the day, which led to incredibly complex questions, each supposed to reveal something deeper about a candidate. A process that was meant to bring a candidate’s creative mind out turned into functionally useless and overly complicated questions like: “If you were the President, what would you do on your first day?”

2. The too-open trap

Recruiters are smart people and soon realized that highly complex questions confuse people more than they open people up. Unfortunately, the pendulum swung too far in the other direction, and HR thought leaders recommended open-ended questions that were a bit too open. Originally intended to give people a chance to respond in a way that felt authentic to them, too-open questions prompted a sense that each question was a game and that there was a “right” answer the candidate needed to say. By the way, tell me about yourself?

3. The generic Google trap

Worried about being either too open-ended or too complex, recruiters looked to blogs and other thought leadership posts in an attempt to find a middle ground, but the result was a list of generic questions (about one billion of them from a standard Google search).

  • Why do you want this job?
  • Why should I hire you?
  • What is your greatest strength?
  • Tell me about a time you were a leader?

Not bad, but not necessarily the best either. You might get a good story or you might get nothing, and there’s almost no way to control for quality.

Finding better questions

At Willo we wanted to see if these were really the most commonly asked questions, and also find out what the best questions to ask in an asynchronous job interview are. After all, the best answers are prompted by the best questions.

So we came with a question: What really are the most commonly asked – and most impactful – questions in a job interview?

We looked at over 15,000 recent interviews created in Willo to identify what employers are actually asking.

Here are some of the most popular questions:
  • Why are you open to a new position?
  • Why do you feel this role is a good next step in your career?
  • What sets you apart from other candidates in your field?
  • In your current or most recent position, walk me through your day-to-day duties. What does a typical day look like?
  • Tell us about a time that you faced a challenge on a particular project you were working on, and how did you overcome that challenge?
  • Tell us a little bit about yourself. How would you best summarize your background and experience?

These questions are impactful because they have a specific direction, but an open end. They inform the candidate what kind of information you’re looking for (which eliminates the “game” mentality), but it also leaves the end open enough that a candidate can tell a story or share a fun anecdote (meaning you get humanity and authenticity).

How to answer interview questions about stress

Tips for writing great interview questions

After assessing 15,000 interviews, we took the most commonly asked 50 questions and spoke with our employer partners. We wanted to see if commonly asked questions, like the ones above, resulted in deep candidate insight. They all said better questions led to better interview answers, and provided these tips for writing great interview questions:

  • Be generous with time: Give the candidate enough time to answer the question – this reduces stress and avoids candidates being cut off.
  • Focused, but open-ended: Ask open-ended questions but at the same time not as vague as ‘tell us about yourself’ which seemed to result in a wild mix of responses that are hard to compare.
  • Offer context: Provide context at the start of the interview. For example, do you want to learn more about their personality or is this more of an opportunity to understand their technical abilities? Why are you asking the question is also useful context.
  • Don’t duplicate: Avoid asking things you already know – if a candidate has already provided a CV or completed an application form, do not ask the same questions such as location, experience etc., as this frustrated candidates and resulted in poor responses.
  • Know the law: Keep things legal – be careful about asking certain questions which could be considered bias or in some cases illegal. Questions to avoid include asking a person’s age, sexual orientation, number of children, or marriage status.

“I love these hints and tips! It’s so important to remember an interview is a two-way process and, especially right now, in demand candidates are interviewing you as much as you’re interviewing them. So, asking great, engaging questions is crucial to building rapport. Don’t presume you hold all the cards!

I also like having follow up questions ready, in case the candidate doesn’t give you everything you’re looking for in their answer and I want to probe a bit further (without interrogating them…) One that’s great to use is, “Is there anything you’d have done differently?”. It tests for self-awareness and growth mind-set”. Susan McRoberts – The Curated Consultancy