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Interview Question – Do you Work Under Pressure?

Do you work under pressure? How? This is the most common interview question asked in the interview. Many people feel uncomfortable while answering this interview question. Because it is a very tricky one.

There are so many job applicants that they make a huge mistake when they are replying to this question. So it is a very tricky one.

So think about why the supervisor and the manager are asking you this question. They are assessing your decision-making skill, your problem-solving skill, and how quickly you can think on your feet.

But more importantly, they want to know are you a snowflake? Are you gonna melt under pressure? Are you gonna crack? Or are you gonna collapse when things get tough?

Can they count on you when things get tough? That’s actually what they are asking. So here’s what you don’t want to say.

work under pressure

Interview Question – Do you Work Under Pressure?

See, if you say no, obviously that’s a bad answer. But if you just say yes, that’s also a bad answer.

You don’t just want to say yes ’cause then it comes across, well, everybody says yes, how do I know you’re not telling a lie?

And you don’t want to exaggerate either. So instead what you want to do, is you want to tell a story. And you should rehearse and have prepared this story ahead of time. 

So instead of just saying yes, “So yes, I work well under pressure.” Well, how do I know? Right?

They don’t know. As far as they’re concerned, you could be lying, right?

Instead, you tell a story. It could be a simple story like this. “I remember when I was in college, I was actually being put into a group of four.

And four of us, me and three other of my classmates working on a project.

And we divided our responsibilities. And we had one month to work on this particular project.

And I was doing my part and they were doing their part. And we had to get together just a few days before the presentation because we all had to make a presentation together as a group.

And I was sharing with them what I have done so far. And two of my classmates actually, didn’t complete what they were supposed to do.

I was a little bit disappointed, but knowing that we actually didn’t have a lot of time. So I had to, yes, burn some midnight oil and kind of work on their part and finish what they were supposed to be their responsibilities.

But I did it. And then I actually had to be the one that make the presentation, and in the end, I got a B+ or A- for that particular project.”

Do you see the difference? You are actually sharing a story of how you have dealt with pressure.

How do you operate under pressure? 

That’s what they want to know. So it could be something that you’ve done in college. It could be something that you’ve done in sports, right?

If you actually play any kind of sports or you compete Or it could be something from your previous job that you have to make a presentation or there’s a very tight deadline or you work with other people.

What have you done? Right? Share that story.

Remember, facts tell but stories sell. You wanna have some of those stories in your kind of back pocket So whenever you need it, you can just do it.

And within a story, you wanna hit a few key points. 

  1. How you have used your skills to handle the situation?
  2. How you are taking responsibility and that you’re not blaming. You’re not playing victims. That’s good to know for the supervisor, and for the HR person. That’s very powerful to know, right?
  3. What are the results? What happens?

So you did this and this is how you handle it, and here is the outcome.

So, now they can see the full journey. So, don’t just answer yes or no.

Prepare a couple of these stories. And by the way, don’t exaggerate.

Don’t say, “Oh, I never feel stressed, It is never a problem. I can handle any situation. I work very well under pressure.”

No, that is a very bad answer. It is much better to do that through storytelling.

One more tip that I want to give you is when you finish that story, you could also share what are some of the things that you do to relieve stress.

Because it’s good to know, then they know that you’re kind of working on this and you have an outlet.

Maybe you will say, “You know what, whenever I feel stressed, I would go for a run or I would do yoga or I meditate daily” Or whatever it is that you do. Share that.

Because then they know that you’re not just the kind of person that would ball up all your emotions and take out all the pressure and then you’re gonna explode someday.

No, it’s like, “Hey you know what, I have an outlet. I have a hobby that when I do that, it releases my stress.” So they know, okay, you are a healthy person mentally.

So the key to handling this question – do you work well under pressure?

Is to have a well-crafted, well-rehearsed story that you could share.

Shitanshu Kapadia
Shitanshu Kapadia
Hi, I am Shitanshu founder of moneyexcel.com. I am engaged in blogging & Digital Marketing for 10 years. The purpose of this blog is to share my experience, knowledge and help people in managing money. Please note that the views expressed on this Blog are clarifications meant for reference and guidance of the readers to explore further on the topics. These should not be construed as investment , tax, financial advice or legal opinion. Please consult a qualified financial planner and do your own due diligence before making any investment decision.