Answering the “How Do You Handle Stress?” Interview Question
Plenty of things in life are stressful, from studying for finals to running late to an appointment. And unfortunately, when you join the workforce, it doesn’t end. Sure, there will be plenty of exciting new experiences in the professional world, but there will also be new sources of stress. To determine if you’re a bundle of nerves or a model of composure, interviewers love to ask, “How do you handle stress?”
Successful candidates know how deal with stress productively and proactively. In this article, you’ll learn to show that you can stay calm, cool, and collected—no matter what the job (or the interviewer) throws at you.
How to answer “How do you handle stress?”
Your mission: Prove to the interviewer that you can hit any professional curveball out of the park. Support your response with a real-life example. And be honest, but keep things positive. If you have a hard time dealing with stress, that’s okay. Instead, focus on how you’re working to improve and why you’re still an amazing applicant. Follow these steps and you’ll be known as a master of stress management.
1. Assure the interviewer that you can handle stress.
First things first: Put the interviewer’s fears at ease by assuring them that you can handle stress with aplomb.
2. Follow up with a concrete example.
The STAR method is your fool-proof way to share impactful stories about your past successes. For this question, keep in mind that you should use an example where the stress came from external forces. You don’t want to talk about that time you were really stressed out because you’d forgotten you had an essay due the next day. For example:
3. Focus on the actions you took—not your emotions.
You want to focus on what you did, not how you felt. The interviewer doesn’t actually care if you get stressed out or not. Instead, they want to know that you can manage your stress, as well as stressful situations, in a productive way. After sharing your actions, be sure to state your positive impact.
4. End on an affirming note: you’ll bring the same skills to this role.
Spell it out: You have a track record of success when it comes to handling stress. It will extend to this role, too.
“How do you handle stress?”: Example answers
Example 1: Entry-level mechanical engineer
Example 2: Administrative intern
Whether it’s “How do you work under pressure?” or “How do you handle stress?”, remember that stress is a part of life—but it doesn’t have to ruin your day. By showing that you can survive and thrive under stress, you can show that you’re the best candidate for the job.