How to Answer Interview Question: How Do You Handle Stress?
There are a lot of things in life that are inevitable, and one of them is stress. These days, a job comes with different kinds of stress (physically or mentally) depending on the kind of work an individual does on the job.
There is always the likelihood of a stressful situation will popping up at work. So a potential employer will want to know then, that you can handle these kinds of situations professionally and still perform at optimum.
Alongside other questions like “What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?” “Why should we employ you?” “What are your hobbies and interests?” your interviewer will like to know how you handle stress.
This is a simple question and the response will be obvious, right? But the truth is, it is a tricky question and the interviewer is collecting important information from your answers. A wrong answer — or even phrase — could mean your chances of getting the job are slimmer.
Not to worry, this article contains the essential information you need to help you ace the question “How do you handle stress?” Before we dive into all the details, it will be vital to know why this question comes up in an interview and why is it of the essence.
The Importance of the “How do you handle stress?” question
The goal of every hiring manager is to get the best candidate for the job.
Being aware of the nature and the demands of the position, hiring managers often ask the question “how do you handle stress” to get a better understanding of your professional behavior.
The interviewer wants to understand how you deal with stressful situations at work, especially in jobs that involve tight deadlines and fast-changing methodology. Using the reply you give, the interviewer may conclude if you will react constructively or destructively.
Now that we’ve established why this question is important to the hiring manager, the team, and the company at large, let’s get down to answering the question.
Answering the “How do you handle stress?” question
The first thing to note is that you are not a superhuman and it will be wrong for you to say that you do not feel stressed at all. Employers want to work with people who can manage stressful situations well in and off the workplace.
So here are some tips on how to answer this interview question
Tell your story
Talking from experience is something hiring managers love to hear. They are interested in whatever story is related to the kind of job you are applying for. It doesn’t have to be the same role but something similar to the role.
It is good to tell an interesting story but do not make it too fictional. This will make the interviewer suspicious and more questions may arise that you may not be able to provide the answer to.
How you handle stress
Your employer wants to hear how you handled stress in the past during a job or a stressful situation and how you overcame it. Try not to bring up scenarios where you curled up and shut everyone out till you finished the hectic task given to you.
Instead, talk about healthier methods used to overcome stress. Some healthy methods include meditation, relaxation, using stress as a motivator, teamwork, among others. Using healthy examples will put you in a great spot for the job.
Stress as a motivator
When answering the interview question; “how do you handle stress?” it will be advantageous to you if you mention how stress motivates you. Tell the interviewer how a deadline has increased your focus and diligence to do work.
You can also add how pressure had motivated you to become better at prioritizing and organization. These are some of the things a hiring manager wants to hear.
Add skills you have learned during stressful situations
One of the qualities of humans is the ability to adapt and learn from experience. Dealing with stress can teach you some valuable skills that have made you a better person and probably the best candidate for the job.
The skills that stressful situations can teach you to include time management, organizational skills, focus, and diligence, among others. These are soft skills employers are looking for in a potential employee.
A good story is not complete without “a happily ever after”. While working under stressful situations, did you achieve your goal? Did you meet the deadline? Was the quality of your work intact? These are some of the things the employer wants to know.
Successful stories only
Yes, there have been sometimes when you flare up, banged the desk in despair, and carried a long face throughout the project. It is normal, you are only human.
While saying your story, do not get carried away and mention any of your failures, stick to the successful ones, and save your failures for your weaknesses.
What to avoid when answering this interview question
Some responses may sound right in your head and you might be tempted to use them. However, these responses may reduce your chances of getting the job. Below is a rundown of some of the answers you should avoid when answering the interview question “how do you handle stress?”
Avoid saying that you don’t get stressed. That’s not true, everyone gets stressed. And an employer will not want to hire someone that is not sure of how they act under pressure.
Do not mention that you avoided stress. When telling the story, do not talk about how you positioned yourself to avoid stressful situations.
Do not bring up job roles as stressors. No matter how hard it may seem or how comfortable you get while talking to the interviewer, try your best to avoid bringing up a particular role in the job description as a stressor. The employer will not be pleased with that response
Do not say “you just push through it”. This response sounds great but it may leave an impression in the mind of your recruiter that you may not have good communication skills.
Work is stressful and most employers know that, that is why they ask this question to know the kind of person you are. As a good employee, you should take your time to study the job description well to know the kind of answer the interviewee wants to hear.
It will be good to use this question as a room to show your dedication and resilience to get your work done to the best of your abilities.