How Do You Handle Stress And Pressure? (With Tips To Answer)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 31 March 2022

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

Whether you appear for a medical job interview or present your qualifications to a board of engineering directors, you can expect a stress and pressure related question. Irrespective of your profession, stress and pressure at the workplace can be unavoidable, and employers can ask you this question to test your problem-solving capabilities. Knowing a concise way to answer this question that evokes the employers' interest in pursuing your candidature is crucial. In this article, we discuss how to answer stress and pressure related questions to help you excel in your next interview.

Interview question: how do you handle stress and pressure?

Answering the question "How do you handle stress and pressure?" reflects your ability to perform well in challenging situations and provides you with an opportunity to convey your analytical and problem-solving skills. Many industries require work that may involve strict deadlines and employers may ask you this question to test your ability to cope with pressure. You may already have the essential job skills to deal with tight deadlines and work under stress, but learning to answer this question can help you prove your suitability for the position.

Related: Top 10 Management Challenges And How To Overcome Them

Factors to consider before answering

When answering stress or pressure-related questions, you may want to know the factors that can affect your answer. Before reading through some sample answers, here are some factors you can consider when answering this critical question in your job interview:

Show instead of tell

While it is easy to say that you can work under pressure and give your best in challenging situations, showing the employer how you have dealt with strict deadlines is important. When answering this question, ensure that you focus on providing examples from your work experience to make your answer trustworthy. When you show the employer your ability to deal with pressure and share your story of managing work-related stress, they can better analyse your personality and see if you can fit their organisation. Here is an example:

"I worked with a management firm as a consultant where I spent long hours analysing problems to create better solutions for business growth. During one such instance, our organisation was developing a campaign to promote the importance of holistic wellness and it was the critical brand message for their latest sleep mattresses. As the sales surged, we faced a product crisis, as the demand for the mattresses was more than our supplying capacity.

I sat with the logistics team and developed a plan to politely convey our shortage of products to our customers. To ensure that they return as soon as the stock goes up, we offered them a discounted price range for the same product. We also planned to assist them in availing the offer by sharing how they can register for the discount and ensuring that we can deliver more consignments to stores within a week. Fortunately, the customers listened and returned to purchase the products subsequently, garnering significant sales."

Related: Problem-Solving Skills: Definitions And Examples

Focus on your strengths

When answering a question associated with workplace stress or pressure, it is only fair to be talking about issues you have come across in your workplace. Consider your strengths and try sharing your experiences from a learning and constructive viewpoint, as it can position you as an optimist and an analytical thinker. Through such a question, the employers want to know how you succeeded despite adversities at the workplace. They want to know your story of resolving the situation to develop a solution to the problem. Here is an example:

"My work as a marketing manager at an advertising firm required me to prepare marketing briefs to send to the clients and discuss their requirements before we began executing on a project. Once I mistakenly sent the wrong data brief to one of our international clients and they agreed to move ahead with the project without reading the brief since they trusted our judgement. Since I was not aware of the incorrect data that we sent, we started with the project and it only came to our attention while we were handling online advertising.

I immediately contacted my mentors and had a meeting with my colleagues to discuss ways to fix this situation. The most workable solution was to inform our clients about the misunderstanding and apologise to their customers using a formal message posted through their social media handles. The client was understanding and accommodating and allowed us to fix our mistakes. After the initial apology, we completely redesigned our promotional campaign and targeted keywords that brought more sales and leads for our clients, meeting the desired goals successfully."

Related: Interview Question: "What Are Your Strengths And Weaknesses?"

Practice honesty

Practising honesty in an interview is a crucial skill to winning the trust of your potential employers and ensuring they can assess your primary motivations and values. This is because your potential employers can determine how truthful you are about admitting your strengths through your answer. Avoid making fluffed claims about your strengths and stay authentic in describing your approach to handling difficult work situations. Consider answering the question in ways to use genuine experiences to your advantage to display willpower. Here is an example:

"In my previous job as an accountant, I had to keep track of long documents and company reports. I once misplaced the data, due to which I ended up adding the wrong revenue numbers in the company report. After admitting my mistakes and being close to expulsion, I dealt with the situation and assured my employer about accurate data in the following set of reports. After much detailed analysis and consideration, I enhanced my problem-solving skills and increased my attention to detail. This strategy and determination helped me deliver better results to my employers and did not make another similar mistake since."

Related: Business Ethics: Definition, Principles And Importance

Explain your work approach

When you are trying to show your ability to work under pressure to prospective employers, it is beneficial to show them how you work when the deadlines are approaching. This way you can personalise your answer and also back up your experiences with evidence. When you share your experiences or work approach, you are more likely to convince the interviewers of your strengths and abilities to work under pressure as it positions you as a trustworthy professional. Consider sharing a successful event where your work strategy yielded successful results for your organisation. Here is an example:

"One of the most effective work strategies that I implement to deal with work pressure and stress is taking a note of the collective group dynamics and assessing how each member of the team is feeling and cooperating. According to my understanding, helping my team feel better automatically improves the overall performance. In my last company, a coworker was facing some trouble with a project deliverable with the deadline approaching. Fortunately, I had some experience with the particular problem and we worked together and solved it. The application deployment was complete on time."

Tips to answer "How do you handle stress and pressure?"

Here are some tips for answering this interview question:

  • Consider talking about the deadline guidelines from work rather than the one you may have put yourself through needlessly.

  • Consider devising your answer around your strengths and how you dealt with a particular situation instead of focusing on the difficulty of the issue.

  • Try answering using the STAR or situation, task, action and result method as it can help the employer get a comprehensive view of the situation you are describing.

  • Consider mentioning the specific methods you implement to manage stress and pressure instead of simply describing them.

Additional example answers

Here are some additional example answers to interview questions about stress:

Example 1: Showing how you managed stressful situations previously

"Some of my best projects got completed excellently under and due to pressure. I believe that routine can stagnate, so I am always looking for challenges to help me grow professionally and develop alternative, workable solutions. One time I was working with a client to deliver a project in three days and a colleague of mine also had the same deadline, but he had to take a leave because of personal reasons. I took up both projects and did not let the work pressure affect me because I developed a detailed time management plan and helped deliver both projects successfully on time."

Example 2: Showing how you handled high-pressure situations in the past

"In my last job as an assistant store manager, I regularly had clients who liked our apparel line but were hesitant to make a purchase, which significantly affected our overall company sales. In December last year, we set a target to make 5000 sales as part of our clearance sale. But, converting customers into potential buyers is not always easy, so I spoke with my colleagues, who collected feedback from these customers and suggested a discount may help.

We realised I was trying to sell them a product during this process before establishing trust and finding out about their needs. To overcome this situation, I worked collectively with my team to set up effective communication strategies that involved the listener as an active participant in the conversation. Since our monthly target was approaching, I worked harder and gave my best efforts to communicate and convince our customers, with a 15% discount. Thankfully, along with my team, we successfully met our target."

Explore more articles