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How to Answer “How Do You Handle Stress?”

how do you handle stress

Are you working on your standard interview questions?

There are specific questions that are likely to come up in most formal job interviews. Identifying these questions gives you the chance to prepare the perfect answer.

At some point in the interview, the interviewer is likely to ask you how you handle stress. While everyone suffers from stress to some extent, forming an excellent answer to this question can be tricky.

So, if you’re wondering how to answer “how do you handle stress?”, then it’s time to find out…


Why The Interviewer Asks This Question?

Interviewers like to ask this particular question because they want to know how you handle work-related stress. No matter what industry and company you work in, stressful situations are likely to come up occasionally. The interviewer needs to know that you have the strength and tenacity to overcome the stress and perform well.

Stress management is a skill…

Many people also experience stressful situations outside of work. The interviewer is likely to want to make sure that stress from your personal life will not affect your work. Being able to handle stress successfully and even harness it is a valuable skill that employers look out for.

How to Answer “How Do You Handle Stress?”

The key to answering this question well is giving specific examples of how you have handled stress in the past. If possible, provide examples of how a stressful situation has made you more productive. So, rather than crumbling under the pressure of a challenging working environment, we are able to use it to thrive.

Take note…

However, it is essential to limit your answer to a couple of examples. If you present yourself as someone who is constantly stressed, the interviewer may question your suitability for the job. While stress can be adapted to be a useful motivational tool, people who are often stressed may break eventually.

Make a List of Your Soft Skills

Before you start working on examples of how you handle stress, make a list of your soft skills. These should be the particular interpersonal skills that you use to manage and tackle stress. These can include organization, adaptability, problem-solving, communication, time management, and leadership.

Top tip…

Any time you answer a standard interview question, your aim should be to highlight how you are suitable for the job. When you give an answer to how you handle stress, make sure you include a couple of soft skills. Not only does this present your soft skills, but it also gives a working example of how you use them.

how do you handle stress

Give a Relevant and Impactful Example

It is now time to think about times when you have experienced pressure or stress at work. Make sure that the examples you highlight do not paint you in a bad light. The stress you experienced at work should not be a result of your direct actions.


Try to create two or three examples that fit the role you are interviewing for. The skills you used to overcome stress should be seen as those directly applicable to the new position.

Focus on Your Positive Actions

It’s easy to get caught up in negative emotions during stressful situations. People often experience panic, frustration, and even dread when they are stressed. This can lead to blaming your colleagues or manager for the position they put you in.

Positivity is what they’re looking for…

It is essential to avoid highlighting these emotions and blame when giving your interview answer. The ability to stay positive during this type of situation is sure to impress the interviewer. Instead, highlight the soft skills you used to turn the situation around and what you learned from it.

Do Not Deny Your Stress

The interviewer is sure to see right through you if you pretend that you never experience stress at work. Even worse, they could see it as an inability to connect with your colleagues and face reality. They may feel that you do not take your work seriously enough or you are not in touch with your emotions.

Think about it…

If you think back, you are sure to be able to remember at least one time when you were stressed at work. Perhaps your team members were stressed while you were relatively calm. Give an example of how you were able to use your communication and leadership skills to diffuse the situation.

Highlight How You Work Well Under Pressure?

The example you give should demonstrate how well you deal with stressful situations. Explain that you have a strategy for coping with stress in the workplace. You may even have two or three methods that you can apply according to the situation.

how do you handle stress guide

Highlight Goals and The End Results

One way of working through stressful situations is keeping your eye on the prize. Employers appreciate workers who are focused on their goals and go the extra mile to achieve them. Being able to stop, take a step back and see the bigger picture in any situation is a very valuable skill.

Be Prepared for Follow-up Questions

If the interviewer is intrigued by your answer, they may ask one or more follow-up questions. It is crucial to be prepared for these questions so that you do not get caught off guard. Being able to answer follow-up questions well shows the interviewer that you are sincere and not simply following a script.

What kind of follow-up questions to expect?

The interviewer’s follow-up questions are likely to relate to how you will handle stress in the new job. Researching aspects of the job you are interviewing for can help you to prepare for these questions. Try to identify in advance aspects of the job that may be stressful and work out how you would handle them.

Tips for Giving the Best Answer

Make sure that the answer you give paints a clear picture of how you manage stress. The examples that you provide should be straightforward and highlight your strengths. Try to make sure that your answer is reasonably short and get straight to the point.

What Not to Say?

Giving a bad answer to this question can diminish your chances of getting a job offer. Knowing what not to say in an interview is just as important as knowing what to say. Let’s take a look at things you should avoid saying when answering this interview question.

Do Not Focus on The Stress

Avoid describing how stressed out the situation that you describe made you. The focus of the exercise should be revealing how good you are at tackling tricky problems.

Do Not Mention an Issue You Created

There are probably times where you caused a stressful situation by making a mistake. This is not an example that you want to highlight during the interview. The interviewer could get the impression that you tend to cause stress at work.

Do Not Highlight Job Duties as Stressors

Part of your regular job responsibilities may have been handling a rather difficult client. However, this is part of the main job and should not be highlighted as a stressful situation. Highlighting one of your job duties indicates that you have trouble handling those essential job responsibilities.

how do you handle stress tip

Avoid Giving a Vague Answer

Simply saying that you keep going when things get stressful tells the interviewer nothing about your skills. A vague and boring answer is likely to be easily forgettable too. It may also sound like you have not done your homework or are unwilling to discuss the topic.

Avoid Saying That You Delegate

Many people in management positions are tempted to pass on stressful situations to other employees. Even if you have done this in the past, do not mention this in the interview. The goal is to explain how you used your own skills to tackle and diffuse the situation.

Managing Stress During The Interview

Even if you have sat through a hundred job interviews, the process can be rather stressful. There is a lot of pressure to present yourself in the best possible way and make a strong impression in an interview. The situation could end up being even more stressful if you are interviewing with a large group of people.

Have no fear!

Fortunately, you can apply some useful techniques to manage stress both before and during an interview. Make sure that you avoid negative thinking at all costs. Entering the interview room with a confident attitude and winning smile can go a long way to securing the job.

Use Relaxation Techniques

Many people simply forget to breathe properly when they are feeling stressed. Taking a couple of deep breaths before and during the interview can help to calm your nerves. You can also simply take a sip of cold water before answering an interview question to give yourself time to think.

Monitor Your Body Language

The interviewer can learn just as much about you from your body language as from what you say. Therefore, it is vital to ensure your body language is relaxed and open. Avoid fidgeting and make sure that you make direct eye contact without staring at the interviewer.

Be Prepared

Many people become stressed when an unexpected question comes up during the interview. Trying to brainstorm all the potential questions and form brief answers will help you to avoid this. Make sure you prepare your interview outfit and all documents ahead of time to save rushing on the interview day.

What about Other Interview Questions?

Keep calm and search our site!

You can start preparing yourself for all potential interview questions that you will probably be asked in 2023. Check out my in-depth guides to Answering Tell Me About Yourself in Interview, how to respond to Why We Should Hire You? and Why Do You Want to Work Here, as well as How to Answer What is Your Greatest Strength.

I also recommend brushing up on What to Wear to An Interview, the Best Questions to Ask in an Interview to make a good impression, and What to Do After an Interview.

If you’d like recommendations on a few top resources to invest in to train yourself to interview at your best, check out Answering Tough Interview Questions For Dummies, How to Create Positive Impressions, and Interview Like A Pro.

Back to today’s topic…

How to Answer “How Do You Handle Stress?”

Practicing your interview technique is the key to avoiding stress. It is a good idea to find a friend or family member who can role-play the interview with you. They will give you feedback on your body language and help identify any potential issues.

Make sure that you get plenty of sleep before the interview and allow yourself plenty of time to prepare. Work out your exact route to the interview location ahead of time and allow plenty of leeway to get there. Meditating or doing a short yoga session before the interview can also help to balance your mind and body.

Happy interviewing!

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