Interview 22: How Do You Deal with Stressful Situations?

For the best result, make sure you have read this article and already have a write-up of your answer prior to your Cambly session. You can send a longer text to your tutor through Cambly’s messaging system.

This following content has been modified from LiveCareer. See the original article here.


Read the following text with your tutor. 

What the Hiring Manager Is Really Asking…

Hiring managers use job interviews to get to know who a candidate is, what their strengths are, and, perhaps most importantly; how they will perform in the environment and role at hand.

One common interview question that may help them figure this out is: “How do you work under pressure?”

Interviews themselves are high pressure situations, and your words and actions throughout the interview may have already told them what they need to know. However, you’ll still want to have a strong, impressive response ready to go.

Here are a few do’s and don’t’s for answering the common (but tricky) “How do you work under pressure?” question:


Go over the following points with your tutors. 

  • Talk briefly about a sitation that you have been under intense pressure
  • How did you overcome it? Think about how you felt in the moment when you were stressed, and how you felt afterwards.
  • Decide on the pressure situation that you feel best relates to the job you are applying for, and practice telling the story


Read the following text with your tutor. 

Don’t give the short, easy answer

The first thing you should know is that while the interviewer ultimately wants to figure out whether you’re the type who’ll fold or thrive in a stressful situation—they also want to hear about your process.

When asked “How do you work under pressure?” you shouldn’t just say, “Oh, pressure doesn’t get to me! I deal with it well.” Instead, offer a specific example of an instance in which you had to work under pressure, and explain the strategies you employed to successfully get through it. Essentially, you want to show, rather than tell, how you handle pressure at work.

But remember this: When giving examples, try to focus on situations in which you were under pressure from outside forces rather than your own doing. And don’t talk about a time where you felt pressured and ultimately didn’t succeed!

Don’t freeze up

As mentioned earlier, how you act and what you say during the interview may tell the interviewer what they need to know about how you handle high pressure situations. So, it’s important to stay cool, calm, and collected during the interview, especially while answering this question.

Don’t let the pressure of a tough interview question get the best of you! Freezing up when the topic of “how you handle pressure” is raised when you’re attempting to communicate otherwise will reflect poorly on you. The interviewer may start to question how honest your other responses have been if they have reason to believe that you are lying your way through this question. Do your best to let your actions prove what you’re claiming.


Go over the following points with your tutors. 

  • Think of 3 positive outcomes you’ve gained from being under pressure.
  • What have you learned from intensive situations? How has it made you a better person professionally and personally?
  • Reherse your answer so you can answer confidently and not freeze up!


Read the following text with your tutor. 

Always be honest

Don’t just tell the hiring manager what you think he or she wants to hear. Most interviewers will pick up on that and it likely will not bode well for you. Instead, figure out a way to focus on the positives. For example, if you actually don’t deal well with pressure, explain how you’re working on this issue. They’ll appreciate the honestly and your willingness to acknowledge a weakness or area in need of improvement.

And if the truth is that you do thrive under pressure, you still won’t want to say that you “never get stressed at all.” This simply is not a believable answer because everyone feels pressured at times.

Discuss your “relationship” with pressure

Other things to touch on when responding to this question are your relationship with high pressure situations, and how you view them. This will help give the hiring manager a better idea of your personality, attitude, and story.

For instance, if you think of pressure as a form of motivation rather than an obstacle, tell them! They’ll likely be very happy to hear it, and it’ll show that you have a positive outlook and the confidence and drive to work through tough situations. Again, offer specific examples of scenarios in which pressure helped you achieve success.

As far as your relationship to pressure goes, discuss your history with stress, and the progress that you’ve made in overcoming it. For example, if back in high school you didn’t perform well under pressure but you do now, explain how and when you turned that corner. Hiring managers like to hear about your journey, and this is a great opportunity to walk them through at least part of it.


Go over the following points with your tutors. 

  • Do you feel that pressure situations are an asset or an obstacle for you? Does encountering them make you work better or worse?
  • How has your relationship to pressure changed in the last 10 years?
  • How will your relationship to pressure be an asset for this company?


Read the following text with your tutor. 

Sample Answer

Here are a few great sample answers to the “How do you work under pressure?” question. Use these sample answers to get ideas on how to prep an answer of your own.

“I actually find that I do my best work when under pressure. I enjoy undertaking challenging assignments and finding creative solutions. One time I had two projects that were due the same week. Instead of stressing out, I created a detailed schedule that allowed me to complete both assignments on time.”

“Pressure hasn’t always been my friend, to be honest, but I know it’s part of work and life, and I’ve actually figured out ways to not only deal with it, but use it as motivation rather than an excuse for throwing in the towel. Some of the effective tactics I’ve started using are A, B, and C. I’ve really noticed a great deal of improvement in how I work under pressure, and I’m now able to maintain a more positive attitude when stressful situations arise!”

“I tend to thrive under pressure because it forces me to really focus on what I’m doing, assess my priorities, and come up with a plan. Rather than quickly reacting, I try to stop and collect my thoughts, remain calm, and envision a positive outcome.

For instance, in my last job, my boss told me I had 24 hours to create a presentation that I’d have to present to our CEO. I could have easily panicked—or jumped right in without taking the time to really think my plan through, which would have caused me to panic later! But instead, I took a few hours to clear my mind and came up with a plan of attack. The next day, I presented to our CEO and felt great about the work I had done, which allowed me to remain calm during the presentation. It’s certainly not always easy to perform well under pressure, but I’m happy to say I’ve found what works for me!”


Go over the following points with your tutors. 

  • Write the first draft of your answer with your tutor.
  • Are there any words or phrases that you are not comfortable pronouncing?
  • Now rehearse with your tutor until you are comfortable answering the question without the script.

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