How Do You Handle Stress in an Interview?

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April 20, 2020
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min read

Job interviews are one of the most stressful situations. To make it worse, how you handle stress is one of the traits hiring managers are looking for. However, we are here to help! 

We will break down the best ways to handle your stress during an interview and discuss handling stress on the job. If you pay attention to the tips and tricks below, you will be able to stay more calm during your next stressful situation.

How do you handle stressful situations?

Before you start your job, search think about how you handle stress. Job seekers can expect some stress throughout the process. Whether it's applying online or going to an interview, the entire employment process can be stressful.

Take some time to think about stressors that can trigger you. What situations make you feel the most pressure and stressed out? Currently, what do you do when you get stressed?

Being able to handle stress is a great skill to use throughout your life and work. Here is some advice on things you can do when your stress level starts to rise.

  • Take a deep breath and count to ten
  • Repeat a calming phrase to yourself
  • Think of a place or person that brings you peace
  • Picture yourself in a comforting room or somewhere in nature
  • Close your eyes and let your heart rate slow down

These methods can be used in everyday life as well as during the hiring process. Having a good way to cope with a stressful situation can make a big difference when hunting for employment.

Handling overall stress and pressure during a job interview

No one enters a job interview completely stress-free. Even the most confident candidate will feel some pressure somewhere along the way. A good way to handle the stress is to practice common interview questions with a friend.

Giving your answer aloud can help you feel less stressed. Here are a few recommendations to help alleviate stress during an interview.

  • Get familiar with the company's corporate website, recent press releases or news articles
  • Dress appropriately
  • Arrive on time
  • Bring notes
  • Be optimistic

How to answer an interview question about stress

One of the most common job interview questions is, how do you handle stress? The hiring manager wants to get an idea of if you get stressed easily or stay cool under pressure. Make sure you answer the question calmly. Even if you are nervous, you want to sound as sturdy as possible.

Prepare yourself to be stressed or nervous so that you can best manage your anxiety. Here are a few tips to help conceal any stress you have during a work interview.

  • Watch your body language
  • Make eye contact
  • Try to avoid fidgeting
  • Answer questions calmly

Wherever you work, you will be faced with stressful situations. Every interview question you are asked is a way for the interviewer to see how you work under pressure. Even if you are nervous, answer each question with confidence.

Be honest

When asked, how do you handle stress, be honest. Everyone has emotions and something that triggers their stress level. Employers do not expect candidates to never feel stressed out.

You want to share stressful examples that you were able to manage. Here are some experiences you can reference during your interviews. Use a past work experience to explain how you were stressed but were able to solve the problem or meet the deadline without losing your cool.

  • Tight deadlines
  • Working with difficult colleagues
  • Assignments or projects for upper management
  • Your first management role
  • Presenting in front of a large organization
  • Too many responsibilities with limited resources

If how you handle stress and pressure is one of your weaknesses, share that during your interview. The way you work to improve on that weakness shows you have a game plan. It's a way to turn a weakness into a strength.

Most employers appreciate candidates that have self-awareness, so explain that you have had success in managing stress levels and are continuing to balance your emotions when it really counts.

Keep in mind, you want to be honest but you still want to leave a good impression. When interviewing and providing an answer to, how do you handle stress here are a few things you want to avoid mentioning.

  • Anger issues
  • Not being able to get out of your head
  • Overly emotional
  • You panic on projects or assignments
  • You make mistakes in moments of stress

Final thoughts for how do you handle stress?

Interviewing is a stressful situation. At any place you work, there will be levels of stress and pressure that you will face--like it or not. Be prepared for a couple of interview questions that will raise your anxiety.

Each answer you give is actually an example of how you work under pressure. Interviewers are looking for answers that give them information on who you are as an employee.

Be thoughtful with each response and your skills will shine through. There is a position out there that will advance your career even under pressure!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some common stress-related interview questions I should prepare for?

Interviewers often ask questions like "Can you describe a time when you were under a lot of pressure at work and how you handled it?" or "How do you prioritize your tasks when everything seems urgent?" Preparing for these questions by reflecting on past experiences can help you articulate your stress management strategies effectively.

How can I demonstrate my stress management skills during an interview without direct experience?

If you lack direct work experience, focus on relevant personal experiences or academic situations where you successfully managed stress. Explain the strategies you used, such as time management, mindfulness, or seeking support, and how these can be applied in a work context.

Is it okay to admit to an interviewer that I get stressed?

Yes, it's okay to acknowledge that you experience stress, as it's a natural human response. The key is to emphasize how you effectively manage it. Share specific techniques you use to stay calm and focused, such as deep breathing exercises, organization, or taking breaks, to demonstrate your proactive approach to handling stress.

Dave Fano

Founder and CEO of Teal, Dave is a serial entrepreneur with 20+ years of experience building products & services to help people leverage technology and achieve more with less.

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