How to Answer "How to Handle Stress" on a Job Interview

It can be daunting to figure out the answers to some of the more challenging job interview questions, particularly those that ask about weaknesses and how you handle issues at work. An especially difficult interview question to answer is the one that asks about how you handle stress. It is best to be truthful with your answer, but spin it in a positive, professional light, so it doesn't weaken your standing as a viable candidate for the position.

Prepare your answer ahead of time. Doing so gives you an opportunity to come up with the most professional way to answer the question. Because of the nature of the question, a random answer might make it look as though you don't handle stress well or you don't handle it properly. You need to convey that you remain cool, calm and collected even in high-pressure situations.

Be honest and utilize traits of your core personality to answer the question. If you are a high-strung individual, you can admit that; after all, the interviewer and anyone else who works with you will realize that when you land the job, and you don't want to appear dishonest. However, you can be honest, but still put a positive spin on it. You might say something like, "I am high-strung, but that stems from my ability to aim for perfection. I handle a stressful work situation by attempting to strive for perfection to resolve the issue and then move on."

Provide an example of previous work-related stress and how you handled it. This demonstrates the fact that you've dealt with stressful situations before and overcome them, and lets the interviewer know you are capable of doing so again. Don't give a lengthy example; just something short and simple to drive home your point.

Inquire as to whether they have a procedure or a certain standard regarding stressful, high-pressure situations. Some companies have a certain protocol they want followed when there is a problem or an issue that crops up; others give you leeway to handle the situation yourself. Asking which method this company uses takes the focus off you and gives you some insight into how the company operates.

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About the Author

Lynda Moultry Belcher is a writer, editor and public relations professional. She worked for a daily newspaper for 10 years and has been a freelance writer for more than 15 years. She has contributed to Divorce360 and Revolution Health Group, among other publications. She is also the author of "101 Plus-Size Women's Clothing Tips" and writes "Style At Any Size," a bi-weekly newspaper column.