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How do you handle stressful situations?

 

Disciplines > Job-finding > Interview questions > How do you handle stressful situations?

The question | What they are looking for | How to answer | See also

 

The question

How do you handle stressful situations?

What happens when you get stressed?

Tell me about a time when you were stressed.

What they are looking for

The first thing that they are seeking here is clearly an indication of how you handle stress.

They will also look at how stressful the answer you give is, relative to the stress in the target job. If it is a high-stress job (and asking this question suggests that it is), then an answer that most people would consider to be low stress would indicate a person who would crack under higher stress.

This is a direct question that puts what they are looking for up front, so, whilst they are indeed asking you about stress they may well be checking how you handle direct questions.

How to answer

Do not give a trivial situation that most would consider to be lower stress or not particularly relevant to the job.

I couldn't find my pencil sharpener yesterday. I looked everywhere and was worried that somebody had stolen it. [not a good answer]

Answer with something that indicates you have worked in high-importance, high-stress situations. Tell first about the situation and then explain how you handled it.

Despite precautions we occasionally get oil fires. In the most recent one I was the only manager on site. I took charge and got one person to call the fire crew whilst I led a containment exercise.

When you are describing the situation, do not look worried. Show that you can handle stressful situations calmly (the question is about the situation, not about your stress).

See also

Stress

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