This is the seventh of the series of typical interview questions. For each question we outline why the interviewer is asking the question and how the interviewee should respond to it.
 
Our suggestions should be treated as guidelines, always adapt them to your personal judgement of the situation and to your own particular experience and individual style.
 
7. How do you manage stress under pressure?
 
or: How do you deal with an extra project added to an already full work schedule?
 
 
Why is this question asked?  
  • To evaluate how you handle the question in the stressful interview situation
  • To see what ‘stress’ means to you – whether you have a high or low tolerance for it
  • To flag to you there may be a certain level of stress in the job you are applying for
  • To assess whether you have ever faced stress before and how you have constructively dealt with it
  • To explore your self-awareness of your stress factors (if any) e.g., being ‘not busy enough’ or ‘underutilized’ in a job may be more stressful to some people than being overloaded with work!
  • To explore your stress-resilience and your adapting strategies – to learn how you cope with stress, how you manage it, recover from it, absorb it, organise around it – and still get the job done!
 
How to Answer? 
  • Every scenario is different and it requires a very careful assessment
  • Provide an example (STAR) with a positive outcome of a stressful work-related situation
  • Show how you try to manage work proactively in order to prevent a potentially stressful situation arising in the first place:
  1. plan ahead
  2. communicate clearly to your Manager about expected difficulties
  3. ensure back up plans and resources are in place
  4. communicate these plans to others so that they are ready when required
  • However, you need to also show how you deal with a crises when it arises (unexpectedly):
  1. stand back, stay calm, but remain focused on urgency
  2. consider context, risks and implications of the critical situation
  3. first assess priorities yourself, then go to Manager and /or other key stakeholders to agree what actions need to be taken
  4. see if some work can be re-allocated, pushed out, delegated or re-prioritised
  5. stay in contact with people involved in the situation and provide updates
  6. show your efforts and commitment to get the job done successfully
  • Finally, describe your personal stress management strategies – how you also ‘let go’ and unwind at home – jogging, gym, cooking, friends, family, etc. (it could be good to present self-care and a healthy work-life balance outlook)

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