If you have worked with some organization in the past or even if you are a fresher applying for his or her first job, then you must be well aware of the feelings of stress and pressure of the workspace. Stress is a gift packet (that may be small or large) which comes free with your share of responsibilities of the job. Well, knowing about the share of the stress of any particular job isn’t enough; you are supposed to be well aware of the tricks to keep that stress at bay as well. And this is what the interviewer is all interested in knowing.
Almost all jobs are stressful. So, be it an interview; you are expected to face the question: “How will you tackle the stress on the job?” You need to be well-prepared for delivering an appropriate answer to this question because the interviewer isn’t interested in hearing your words that ‘you have not faced any stress ever before’. We all have faced some sort of stress and pressure in the way of our duties and responsibilities at some point of time in life. And you have to mention incidences about those stressful moments only.
Does the interviewer want to know about what you consider stress to be? Do you even understand about pressure and its effects? If yes, then how do you manage it? This is an important question.
What Interviewer is trying to judge?
Stress can have any source. It can be from some professional reason or even personal reasons. And the bad thing is that your worries and stress impact your productivity levels. Mental-pressure causes a great drop in your productivity. That is why interviewers ask this particular question from candidates. Employers cannot afford to spend their time, money, and efforts on someone who may be wonderful at his work but cannot handle work-stress effectively. So, the interviewer is interested in knowing:
1. Your stress handle capacity: Interviewers want to know whether or not you will be able to handle the stress that the job-post will create on you. As if you cannot handle that stress then it’s sad because you are proving yourself to be of no good to the organization.
2. How will you react: As earlier stated, employers want the best talent to be present in their organization and also they know very well that which role in their office involves what kind of work-stress? So, they need to verify how the candidate will react to it, whether in a productive manner or destructive.
3. Your ways of tackling it: After knowing about the kind of stress that you have ever faced earlier and also how you reacted to it; the interviewer will be interested in knowing about what you did to reduce or extinguish it? Stress is a part of the job and it will come in a package along with the job offer. And you cannot afford to ignore being stressed all every time. Because if you did so, your stress bubble may get enlarge time by time before actually exploding.
4. Expression of stress: Stress is something that people generally don’t openly talk about. The reason may be that they are not comfortable in talking so or the reason can be that people don’t find their near and dear ones to be supportive enough. Whatever the excuse is, the interviewer needs to know how you express the feeling when you are stressed. Some of the people with outward expression in the form of anger and sadness can be waste to the organization.
The HR manager also wants to know whether personal stressful issues that are outside your workspace can impact your performance or not. Interviewers look for candidates who can deal with various stressful situations effectively.
As you think of starting to prepare your answer to this question, recall your memory of the times when you experienced stress. It can be during any of your previous jobs or can be during your study years. To prepare an appropriate answer go as per the following tips:
1. Think about your experience of stress and pressure: Think of the situation and incidences when you found yourself to be engulfed by the stressful feelings. Was it when you were required to submit a project with a tight deadline? Or was it when you committed some mistake at the workplace and was worried to admit it in front of your boss because you feared being fired?
2. Take your time to think about your approach to stress: For this particular exercise you may ask the following questions from yourself:
(a) When and why did you feel the stress?
(b) How did you react to that stressful situation?
(c) What did you do to mitigate or reduce that work pressure?
(d) How did your actions help you to take you out of the pressurizing moments?
3. Focus on examples to communicate about your personal growth: Use some examples from your real-life situations to make the employer understand your positive approach towards the stress. Use stories to make your answers more reliable and to send a hint of personal growth where stress helped to unleash your hidden potential.
4. Get prepared for follow-up questions: The interviewer can frame questions out of your answer. So, you need to be prepared for such follow-up questions as well. Be prepared to elaborate your answer with some more examples of stressful situations and stories of tackling it at your work-place.
Tips on what to include and what to avoid
About what to INCLUDE:
You need to be careful about what you want to include in your answer. For example let us say, you answer this question like-‘Too many projects make me feel stressed’; then this won’t help you during your interview if your job in the organization will require you to tackle many assignments at a time. So, what to mention and what not to mention?
Mention how stress, a little or moderate level stress, motivates you on your job. Further, you can keep in mind the following points:
1. An example story: Just letting the HR manager know about how you handle stress is not enough. Add more and tell them how you have added this method in some past stressful situations.
2. Add positive examples: Positive example here means that you need to explain about the way through which you burst your stress along with an example of that method working for you and your organization.
3. Focus on what you did: Mention your approach in your answer. For example, if you did something unprofessional at the workspace and you felt stressed in facing the consequences then don’t just go on mentioning your feels throughout your answer. Talk about what you did, if you think to talk to a colleague helped you to relieve your stress and find a proper solution then mention that.
4. Highlight your skills used: What skills you hold those can help you’re to manage your stress. These skills vary from time management to prioritizing; from talking with colleagues to revisiting your mistakes to correct them.
Things to AVOID:
Certain things those candidates mistake on while answering this question during their interview are:
1. Saying that you don’t experience stress: You may find this answer to be the best in your viewpoint as this statement represent that you are a calm and composed person and somehow manage to stay that way in every situation. But, from the interviewer’s viewpoint, this answer seems to be an unrealistic one. This line will do no good for your interview. So, be prepared with some stressful incidence that you have experienced in your life.
2. Do not focus on the emotions while explaining the situation: What you need to do while answering is to give an overview of the incidence or the situation. Explain what the situation was all about, why you felt stressed in that situation and how handled it. Did your approach help your firm or not?
3. Choose your examples carefully: Interviewer doesn’t only want to know about any stressful condition that you have faced but he or she also wants to know your definition of stress. What situation do you consider to be the most stressful one yet and will you be able to handle the stress of this new job?
Everyone got their different ways to tackle stress, take time to think over how have you experienced stress in your work life, and what was your approach?
Preparing your answer:
Start by keeping in mind the following tips to help you frame a positive, interviewer-focused answer to this question that shows you’ve well thought about yourself and your relationship with stress:
1. Mention how you deal with stress: Every person has his or her way of dealing with stressful situations in their lives. So, do mention your stress buster. What helps you to reduce the pressure and stress of the work? What makes you feel refreshed and start again with good productivity levels. Also, mention in your answer that why is that particular activity your stress reliever?
2. Give an example: Don’t just mention the activity that helps you to relieve your stress but also mention one of the incidences where you felt yourself to be under stress and that activity proved to be of great use. Also mention how this action of yours helped the organization along with helping you mentally.
For better clarity about the structure of your answers, read the following examples.
The pressure is a very integral part of any job. The pressure at the job can be good as well as bad. Good pressure, like having multiple projects or an upcoming deadline for any assignment, helps me in staying motivated all the time. And yes, there are times when your job offers too much pressure and you find it very difficult to handle. This scenario can lead to stress. However, I would like to state that I have really good time-management and project-balancing skills. For instance, once I had a few projects due in the same week, and that created a lot of stress on me. But just because I had developed a schedule that set time to devote to different projects, I managed to complete all my projects well in time and coped the stress feelings.
Stress is, I think, part and parcel of any job that one is doing or will be doing. As far as stress is concerned in my work-life, I try to respond to it rather than just feeling succumbed under its pressure. I try to handle the situation and manage the sources that are putting me under any kind of stress or pressure. That helps me to solve the scenario without getting overly-exhausted due to stress. For example, during my previous job as a salesperson, I had to deal with an unsatisfied customer and she was about to complain about me to my boss. I felt a kind of pressure for that moment but soon I realized that rather than focusing on such negative feels, I should be focusing on the task at my hand which was to convince the customer about the usability of company’s products And that things worked wonder, the customer was not left dissatisfied and I relieved myself too of the stress.
To be honest, I work better under pressure. And I’ve realized that I enjoy more while working in a challenging situation. As a writer, I thrive under the environment which is packed with tight deadlines scheduled and multiple projects lined ahead. During my working tenure till the date, I have found out that whenever I had some strict deadlines to finish any project, I come up with some best and the most creative content. To mention an instance for the same I would like to tell you that my recent article which is about a political issue was assigned to me just a few days ago. And that piece of writing was too impressed that I won an award for that. The pressure and stress of that deadline somewhere triggered my creativity and helped me in harnessing my true potential.
In a matter of stress, I try to be proactive. This means that I try to sense the source that can be the reason for any kind of stress or pressure on me on my job beforehand. For example, if I get various tasks or assignments that are to be submitted at the end of that very week then I would act proactively in such a situation. I would not procrastinate any of my works rather I would form a strict time table for my work and stick to it meticulously. I adopt this practice not only when it’s about me but also when I work with others as a team. I pick up some of the stress in case my teammates are feeling some kind of unhealthy or overly stress. I help them in taking some share of the workload to maintain their stress to a healthy level.
Planning is the tool that I can always rely upon while handling work-stress. Chalking out the detailed plans for all the in-hand projects and making a ‘to-do’ list for my daily tasks help me in staying ahead of any stressful feelings at the work. Stress is something that can arise inevitably at any time during any job. The principle of taking one-step or one issue at a time helps me a lot to tackle the stress and pressure of work. Prioritizing the tasks as per what my organization needs or seeks. I have to take care while making the priority list because that will define which task should I be doing at the first and which at the end. If this goes wrong, problems will arise for me, my colleagues, and my organization as well. And that will escalate tension in the office.
Stress and pressure can act as a big motivator for me when these are within the desired or healthy limit. A healthy level of stress motivates me to work efficiently. My productivity is enhanced when I face some challenging situations at my workspace. A challenge acts as a booster to my dedication towards that task. I see challenges positively. If I face some stress due to a certain challenge in front of me in my way to complete a project, I make sure that stress and pressure don’t affect my performance. I try keeping the negative thoughts at the bay and take the bull by its horns. I think every challenge is an opportunity to prove myself and to learn something valuable. This helps me and my organization in equal proportions.
For me, communication is the key to tackling stressful situations. Every time I feel any kind of pressure or stress, in personal or professional life, I try to reach out to someone (either personally or digitally) who could help in overcoming that stressful feeling. It’s not like if I have a certain task in my hands and non-completion of that task is giving me a panic feeling then I ask the person in doing that work; no! but I would like to have a conversation with anyone of my seniors or colleagues to suggest tips to complete my job effectively. I believe someone who has been in your shoes ever before understands you the most and will give you the sanest piece of advice at that particular moment. The same practice is helpful for group-tasks as well. For example, I and my teammates were working on some projects with one more team and we found there was a lot of work-duplicity. By keeping the communication lines open and honest we pushed the project forward and ended up finishing it well ahead of the deadline.
Well, I cannot say that I enjoy stress at my work but I should admit here that understanding what exactly for me causes a stressful situation and then being aware of the methods of handling those stressful situations has played an important role in my career. At first, stress, for me, can be triggered by any kind of pressure that I feel. It can be any pressure from my boss, or my juniors or other department personnel, etc. During my most recent job, I had to report to two heads who, many times, assigned me the tasks that were of conflicting nature to each other. And many times this thing made me stressed out. I discussed with both of my heads simultaneously about the tasks that were assigned to me. They offered a way out to finish more urgent work first and later the other. Here, I considered Communication to be an effective tool. Likewise, every situation can be handled in a particular way.
About stress, one thing that I can surely say is that I enjoy being under stress to an extent. While I enjoy it at my work as I love taking challenges, I am also aware of the fact that the stress (especially of an unhealthy level) can create big trouble for every team member. My teammates can suffer anxiety due to high-stress levels. Rather than sitting back and expecting each one of them to be tackling stress in the way that I do; I prefer to talk to them individually. I focus on knowing about their concerns. I check in what is stressing them out and how are they tackling or dealing with that work pressure? Being a team head of 20 members during my previous job, we were given a big project by the company. We decided to divide it into 4 smaller projects with 5 members team assigned to each small project. Everything was going great in the beginning but slowly their productivity reduced. I noticed this quickly and talked to each team member personally and helped them in knowing what can reduce their stress levels. This trick worked as per the expectations and all the members completed their tasks assigned positively without stressing themselves much. It led to the formation of a balanced team with the right amount of pressure to motivate the members.
Worked as the head of one of the large corporations in the market, I can’t let work-stress affect my performance at my job. Being ahead, during my last job, I was well informed of the fact that stress at my level can let to percolation of pressure further down to the lower levels. This could lead to the creation of problems in the whole company. A well-planned organization of duties and responsibilities was a perfect solution that I could think of at my level for motivating all the other employees of the organization. I remember one of the incidences where I and other employees felt stressed a lot. It was when we lost one of our main suppliers and we had a massive order to complete. At this point rather than feeling panic, I called up a meeting with upper-level management and other level managers. We were fortunate enough that everyone had some solutions and workarounds to offer at that meeting. And by the end of the day, we had found a new supplier who would supply us the needed raw materials at lower rates than the earlier ones.