Interviewer: How do you handle stress?

You:

Sheldon (from Big Bang Theory) panic breathing into a brown paper bag

Does this question give you overwhelming feelings of stress?

Keep Calm and Carry On!

Having an answer ready for this question will keep your stress levels low and help you convince the interviewer that you're the right fit for a tough job.

Why Do Interviewers Ask This Question?

Animation of POKÉMON Detective Pikachu (yellow small creature currently wearing a cap) lifting a magnifying glass to his eye

The interviewer wants to know:

  • How do you handle challenges? Are you going to get overwhelmed and shut down, or will you take charge to find a solution?

  • Are you proactive or reactive? Are you able to recognize potential issues with a task or skill and raise your concerns with the right people?

Before The Interview

Flaticon IconThink...

Is thisindustry or role particularly stressful?

High profile? Public-facing? Highly competitive? If so, you'll want to first look at the particular stress factors of that industry and/or role when preparing your answer.

For example, if the job is in customer service, you'll likely be dealing with a lot of dissatisfied customers who want refunds.

How do you handle stress generally?

Think about your personal life, school, or previous jobs. Can you find examples where you dealt successfully with a stressful situation?

For example, maybe you played on a sports team and had to change positions after a teammate got injured.

A dog in a flaming room. The dog says,

Example Answer

Look for an example that shares personal growth and self-awareness.

Flaticon IconScenario:

You worked on a group project where your team members couldn't agree on an approach and the deadline was getting close.

Flaticon IconHighlight:

  • Communication skills. You can speak up, set priorities, and solicit help.

  • Initiative and Planning. Show you can proactively address issues rather than procrastinating or avoiding them.

Flaticon Icon

Answer:

I took initiative to create a plan on the pros and cons of the different approaches and asked for a vote. Because of my action to call a vote, we were able to move forward and successfully complete the project.

Take Action

Jimmy Fallon breathing deeply

Get ready for your interview!

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This Byte has been authored by

MQ

Madeeha Qasmi

Learning & Development Specialist