Common Interview Questions Explained: How To Answer “How Do You Handle Stress and Pressure?”

This interview question may appear straightforward at first glance, but what lies beneath the surface is more than what meets the eye.

Whether you excel in managing stress or are actively working on coping better under pressure, it’s crucial not to underestimate the importance of crafting a thoughtful response to this interview question.

Continue reading to learn the best way to formulate your answer.

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Why Do Interviewers Ask About How You Handle Stress?

Interviewers are looking to see how you will respond to high-pressure, on-the-job situations, but that only scratches the surface.

This question helps the interviewer assess a candidate's resilience, problem-solving skills, and emotional intelligence.


The question of how well you handle stress will probe into the ways you handled high-pressure situations in the past and how you approach challenges.

Don’t shy away from mentioning setbacks, as your honest response will provide insight into your ability to bounce back, adapt to changing circumstances, and maintain composure under pressure.

Also, if you can explain your coping mechanisms, this will award you bonus points and highlight your ability to thrive in challenging environments.

Problem-solving Skills

This question helps the interviewer indirectly prompt you to describe how you navigate difficult situations. We recommend refraining from simply stating that you “handle stress well” and instead, be sure to give at least one detailed example.

An interviewer wants to see how you use analytical thinking to approach stressful situations by identifying the root cause of the problem and developing effective solutions. You can also display your resourcefulness by sharing examples of innovative solutions you implemented and how you think outside of the box to address a problem.

Showcase your decision-making skills and adaptability by giving scenarios where you weighed the pros and cons of different options and how you may have had to adjust your approach to a matter.

Emotional Intelligence

Difficult situations in the workplace can lead to emotions escalating quickly, so how you manage your own feelings and navigate interpersonal relationships is a testament to how well you may fit the role in the prospective company.

If you can think of a situation where you had the self-awareness to reflect on your own emotional reactions and acknowledge your strengths or areas for improvement, it will show that you are in touch with how your reactions affect others.

Steer clear of pretending that you are always in control but allow the interviewer a peek into how you self-regulate, perhaps by practicing relaxation techniques or resisting impulses to lose your sense of calm.

Never underestimate the power of empathy, which some may think of as a weakness because it requires a measure of vulnerability. Considering the perspectives of others is essential for effective communication and shows that you are strong enough to navigate pressure while maintaining your composure and the dignity of others.

What If I Am Not Good at Handling High Stress Situations?

Of course, none of us want to admit in a job interview that we do not excel in an area that may be crucial to getting hired. How could you frame this in a way that works in your favor?

Remember the main attributes your response should highlight are resilience, problem-solving skills, and emotional intelligence. Start by being honest and acknowledging that this is a challenge.

You might say something like, "While I haven't always been the best at managing stress in the past..." Then, provide context by explaining the circumstances that typically cause you stress, which shows the interviewer that you are self-aware.

Talk about coping strategies that you’ve tried or are willing to implement (e.g. time management, seeking support from colleagues, practicing mindfulness). It will likely impress the interviewer that you are actively using your problem-solving skills to improve this quality. Emphasize the strengths you do have and how they can help you mitigate stress and express your willingness to learn and grow as a person.

Interviewers appreciate candidates who are self-aware and proactive about addressing their weaknesses. Lastly, if possible, share instances where you were successful in managing pressure, even if it is a smaller-scale situation. This demonstrates your capacity to cope with challenges, albeit in a different context.

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