Workplace Stress and pressure are inevitable. Every employee at some point of time gets stressed due to work pressure. And honestly, there is nothing wrong with that. What matters is that how an employee handles it. Effective handling of stress means high emotional intelligence and maturity on the employee’s part. However, ineffective handling of stress and pressure leads to lowered productivity of the employee and hence affects the organisation.
Almost every interviewee is faced with the question “how do you handle stress and pressure”. To look impressive, the interviewee sometimes answers with phrases like:
- “I don’t get stressed.”
- “I am calm all the time.”
- “Stress and pressure do not bother me.”
This is not what the interviewer is looking for and happens to be one of the biggest and most common mistakes that the candidates make while answering this question. Answers like these make the interviewer suspicious and make him/her feel that the candidate is blurting out rehearsed answers.
The sole reason why the interviewer asks this question is to know about the capability of the candidate. The interviewer also wants to know the past experiences of the candidate where he was exposed to stressful situations and how he dealt with them. The best way to answer this question in interviews is to firstly acknowledge that the candidate does face enough pressure and gets stressed under gruelling situations. Secondly, the candidate must state past experiences where he/she got stressed, and the steps are taken to overcome it.
Tips to Answer
A proper answer to “how do you handle stress and pressure” should be well-articulated. In addition to that, it also has to be authentic and genuine. Employers do not wish to hire someone who crumbles under workplace pressure. If a candidate, under a gruelling situation has a nervous breakdown, nobody in the organisation wants to be responsible for it.
Also, an employee unable to handle stress is most likely to evade responsibilities and pass them on to someone else. Unable to handle stressful and pressurising situations also means a lack of problem-solving skills and unsteady decision-making procedure. No employer wants these traits in someone who is being hired. Hence answering this question correctly is a very crucial part of an interview. The following listed are several tips that should be considered while answering:
1. Provide an Example
Talking in generic terms always evokes a lesser impact than talking specifically. Hence the candidate should give a real experience where he/she faced with a stressful or gruelling situation. The example should be concise but clear. It should summarise the situation and how it caused stressed to the candidate and what degree.
2. Explain How You Overcame It
The candidate should tell the interviewer how he had overcome the said stressful situation mentioned in the interview. The candidate has to make sure that he/she does not give this impression to the interviewer that his/her stress-coping mechanisms are unhealthy. For example, if the candidate answers that he had handled the stress by crying profusely for two hours or completely avoiding the situation, it would not make a good impression.
The candidate has to answer how he used the stress the work better. He/she can say that he/she had used the stress as a motivator to increase the pace and productivity of his/her work. It can also be said that he/she took a very little time off work to neutralise his stress and got back to work with a fresh mind. Saying that the candidate meditated for a while or tried balancing the work can also be a perfect option.
3. Stress as a Motivator
Telling the interviewer how the candidate uses stress as a motivator is by far one of the best ways to answer this question. The candidate should articulate the reason for stress and how he/she used it as a positive gateway to amplify his work performance. The candidate should mention examples like the stress of tough deadlines motivating him/her to work better and faster.
4. Skills Learned Due to Stress
Employers generally look for employees who not only handle stress effectively but also use that to learn something that might benefit them in the future and evade the possibility of further stress. Skills learned due to stress are soft skills that employers look for in potential employees. These skills can be organising work, time-management, prioritising, etc.
The answer should engage a result or ultimate goal that the candidate was able to achieve due to the effective handling of the stress. For example, he/she can state how the artwork was completed before the client needed or the reports were submitted to the supervisor before time.
Every candidate is most likely to have a different experience, different stories and other answers to give in the interviews. However below listed are the best sample answers that can be said as a response to the question “how do you handle stress and pressure” in an interview.
Answer 1: According to me, stress is a positive motivator. It teaches us a lot of skills that we cannot otherwise learn in normal situations. I try to learn something from every stressful situation. One time, I had to submit three reports in one week, and it was very stressful. However, I submitted all of them on time. This is because I balanced my workload and learnt how to effectively prioritise my workload to make the best of the current situation.
Answer 2: Stress often improves the quality of my work as it acts as a motivator for me. Since I am a content writer, I can vouch for this. I generally have to work under strict deadlines to meet with the client’s demands. However, I have noticed I deliver the best content, especially when I am working under stress.
Answer 3: As a comic artist workplace is mainly lined by stress to meet the demands and make submissions on time. Whenever I am stressed, I use that as a motivator so that I can finish my job at the earliest. Hence under stress, I have produced some of my best comics.
Answer 4: I handle stress by reminding myself of the goal or the result that I am working towards. That gives me the drive or the motivation to push through the stress and reach my goal. Once in my earlier organisation, I had to get a massive target of sales within a week. Hence I reminded myself of the ultimate target and kept working until I reached it.
Answer 5: Being in customer service can be a stressful job. Hence under stress, I make it a point to focus my reaction on the situations and not on the stress that I am feeling. For example, if I am handling a rude customer, I try to focus on the situation, which motivates me to effectively apply my communication skills to resolve the situation.
Answer 6: Being in management has taught me that a stressed team causes a great deal of stress. So in those situations, I try to communicate well with my team members to get a clear idea of what is stressing them. On doing that, we can improve the group dynamics by sharing our duties and hence reducing the pressure. This collectively reduces the entire stress of the group, and thus I cope with my stress too.
Answer 7: I handle stress by being too calculative. In my last organisation, I was assigned a task in the last minute due to a contingency, and I had to handle it on my own. The time was very less, and it was an important assignment. I chalked out the requirements of the assignment, listed what I had to do, calculated my available time, divided it into various tasks, and that led to the completion of the assignment on time.
Answer 8: In this extremely competitive workplace scenario, stress is inevitable. To deal with it, I make sure I exercise and meditate regularly. IT keeps my mind active. Meditation keeps me focussed and thus helps me work through any stressful situation.
Stress can never be evaded. Good and bad stress is a part of every workplace. Employers want to hire someone who experiences both but finds a way out of it to deliver his job nonetheless. These answers shall give the interviewer the idea that they are talking to the right candidate, and no amount of stress would be daunting enough to cripple his/her spirits.