How To Answer: How do you deal with stressful situations?

30.09.2015 5521

If I got asked about how I deal with stressful situations, the first thing that would pop into my head is, “You mean like this one?”

As if you didn't know, job interviews are very, very stressful. The way you calm your nerves is by recognizing that it’s going to be stressful, preparing for the interview as much as possible, and taking a few deep relaxing breaths before you start.

But now is not the time to make that joke. My philosophy is ‘never let them see you sweat.’

This 'stressful situations' question is a legitimate job interview question. Who doesn’t have stress? Every job is going to have some time when you are going to feel overwhelmed and stressed out. They’d like to know that you are going to react in a calm, rational fashion instead of erupting into a temper tantrum, screaming, hiding, or something else that would either alienate your co-workers or be otherwise unproductive. Stress management is a valuable skill.

   READ ALSO: How To Answer: Have you ever had difficulty working with a boss?

‘How do you deal with stressful situations’ is a more generalized version of ‘Tell me about a time you found yourself in a stressful situation and how you resolved it.’ Both are behavioral interview questions. If you get the ‘Tell me about a time…” version, you absolutely should have a story to tell. I always recommend using the STAR method (Situation or Task, Action, Result) to answer it—it keeps you from rambling off topic and makes sure you hit the most critical aspects of the story.

If you get the more generalized question about dealing with stressful situations, you have a little more leeway to talk about your overall approach to handling stress, but always keep in mind that you’re talking about work. Keep it professional and always bring it back to the story (and the accomplishment):

“If a situation seems overwhelming, I mentally break it up into smaller steps, or doable goals, and just focus on reaching each one on the way to accomplishing the larger task. In fact, that’s what I did with XYZ project. We had a major issue with X problem, but I broke it down into ‘what needs to happen first,’ and concentrated on one step at a time. I was able to see more solutions to the larger problem, and in fact, we got the entire project done in record time.”

   READ ALSO: How To Answer: How can you apply your specific skills to help the organization achieve sustainable growth?

Or, “I find it best do concentrate on remaining calm, maybe taking a few deep breaths. When I run into a customer who’s upset, it helps them to calm down if I’m calm and we can work together to resolve the situation.”

Above all, choose an answer that shows that you can meet a stressful situation head-on in a productive, positive manner and let nothing stop you from accomplishing your goals.

Article provided by


Get Individual Newsletter
We will send articles selected just for YOU
Recent jobs:

Assistant Expeditor Lagos • from 200 000


Administrative Officer Lagos • from 130 000 to 380 000


Offline Sales Agent Lagos • from 50 000 to 100 000

Bank Teller Lagos •


Executive Marketer Lagos • from 150 000


All jobs