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Can you work under pressure?


Disciplines > Job-finding > Interview questions > Can you work under pressure?

The question | What they are looking for | How to answer | See also


The question

Can you work under pressure?

Tell me about a time you were stressed.

Can you handle stress?

What happens to you when you are pressured?

What they are looking for

Nobody is going to answer 'no' to this, so they are looking for something else -- which is not whether or not you can work under pressure, but how you behave under pressure.

Much absence from work is stress-related, which means many employees do not want people who suffer from stress.

When we recall events, we often also recall how we felt and our body language offers a tell-tale story to the observant interviewer.

How to answer

Whilst never saying that you cannot handle pressure, the answer you give can be customized to the job in question.

Being a librarian is not always a high-pressure job, but getting books back from students can be quite stressful.

Do show that, no matter the job, you can handle the pressure as required. Displaying a bit of steel is often no bad thing.

Angry students just make me more determined, I'm afraid. Their arrogance in expecting to be let off is sometimes breathtaking. I find that if I stand my ground and quietly repeat myself they get the message sooner or later.

Especially if the job is clearly a high-pressure one, explain how you thrive on pressure and use it to provide a sustained motivation.

I love working in a challenging environment where I can add significant value. Of course I appreciate being paid well, which is one reason why I always make sure I put in at least as much as I get out.

It can be powerful here to admit feeling stressed, but then couple this with an explanation of how you handle the stress whilst working effectively.

When customers get angry it can be very difficult. But then I remember that it is not me they are angry about and see if I can find a way to help them feel better.

See also


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