How to Answer ‘How Do You Handle Stress’ Interview Question

Quick Navigation:

At some point during a job interview, your interviewer may ask, “How do you handle stress?” Everyone experiences stress, at least occasionally. During your interview, you can demonstrate what steps you take to manage it. Follow these tips to answer the question honestly and thoughtfully. 

Why interviewers ask you, ‘How do you handle stress?’

When the interviewer asks you , ‘How do you handle stress?’, they want to know how you react in stressful situations, as well as how your reaction will affect your teammates and the company overall.

You must be prepared to respond in an honest, thorough way. You can share examples of when you successfully handled stress at work and outside of the job, and how those situations brought out your creativity and productivity.

What you can do to prepare for this question before your interview

Before going to an interview, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What caused a stressful situation I found myself in?
  • How did I immediately react to this stressful situation?
  • Did the stress interfere with my work?
  • Was I able to alleviate my stress? How?
  • What could I have done differently to improve the situation?

You can write down these questions and your responses to help plan how to best answer.

How to answer, ‘How do you handle stress?’ in an interview

Follow these steps to answer the interview question, ‘How do you handle stress?’ so you can impress the employer and get hired:

1. Maintain good eye contact with the interviewer.

You should try to maintain regular eye contact throughout the interview. This lets your interviewer know you are engaged and helps show that you are confident and honest.

2. Give at least one example of how you have managed stress.

It is one thing to talk about how you handle stress, but you may want to support that statement with a clear example.

For example, say you had to finish a project with a short deadline but one person on your team was sick. If you managed to delegate that person’s tasks evenly among the remaining teammates, you will want to talk about how your thought process and consideration allowed your team to finish the project on time. Be honest because your interviewer may want to verify that example, if possible.

3. Only mention situations where you successfully managed stress.

You can include work examples or personal examples—provided they lead to your overall productivity.

4. Focus on positive aspects.

Even if you have already discussed your strengths and weaknesses, this is another opportunity to show your strengths. Think about the best things you have done to manage stress and the positive consequences.

For example, talk about a situation in which you were able to think on your feet, how you were able to communicate effectively with teammates and managers, and how you were able to break down larger tasks into smaller, more manageable tasks. Perhaps your method led to an improvement in company policies. 

5. Make sure the interviewer knows you are used to managing stress.

This is especially helpful if you are applying for a high-stress job. Your examples must support this statement.

6. Use action-oriented statements.

When giving examples, focus on what you did to solve a problem, not on how you felt. The interviewer needs to know that you are proactive, can remain calm and make quick decisions when necessary.

7. Tailor your example to the job you are applying for.

Relate how you can apply your stress-relief techniques and thought processes. Take the opportunity to highlight any relevant skills you used to solve problems in stressful situations.

To best answer the question about how you handle stress, you must think about the moments where you have dealt with stress, particularly in the workplace. Take some time before the interview to identify some examples that show you are motivated by healthy pressure, you know how to plan ahead, you can set boundaries, you know your limits and you like to maintain good communication.