Job Interview Question
How do you handle stress and pressure on the job?Hmmm….how DO you handle on-the-job pressure?
(a) I cry, yell, or complain.
(b) I hide in the bathroom.
(c) I love stress! It’s so motivating!
(d) I don’t get stressed.
Obviously, they want your answer to be (c) or (d)…either one works. Either you get some kind of adrenaline high off of the pressure and perform better, or you maintain a Zen-like calm and don’t ever get stressed out.
And of course, everyone knows that those are the preferred answers to this particular question, so if you say one of them without really meaning it, you run the risk of sounding fake. (It’s a little like saying “I’m such a perfectionist” in answer to the ‘what’s your greatest weakness’ question.)
If you really can honestly say that deadlines motivate you to work harder, then go for it…especially if deadlines are a big part of your job. That’s a great thing, and some people really do work well under pressure.
If you’ve learned to take a deep breath and focus on the task at hand, then talk about that. (Although that may apply only to surgeons and bomb squad personnel.)
What you can do to answer this in an honest, authentic way while still making them feel great about what you say is to talk about how you have learned to deal with the stress of the job.
Maybe when the job becomes extra stressful, you prioritize tasks so that it’s manageable.
Maybe you can say that you’ve learned how to harness the energy from the pressure and make it work for you.
However you answer, follow it up with an example of how you’ve dealt with a stressful or pressure-filled situation in a previous jobs or other situation (certain volunteer experiences can be pressurized, too).
All jobs can, at one point or another, be stressful. Retailers get stressed out during the holiday season, accountants get buried during tax season, project managers run into people who aren’t cooperating with their timelines, plans get sidetracked, customers get cranky, and shipments don’t arrive on time.
Because stress is everywhere, you always want to have an answer to this question in your back pocket. You always want to answer the question positively, one way or another. Think about what desirable qualities are for top performers in your area and consider how you exemplify those qualities. And tell a quick story that provides evidence of what you say to hammer the point home. It’s all part of your job interview strategy.
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