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Answering Efficiently on ''Can You Work Under Pressure?''

In the current age, where competition is inevitable, work pressure is surmounting, in almost every industry. And it is not surprising that employers want to know if their candidates can handle work pressure and ensure smooth running of operations. Companies do not want to employ people who cannot handle pressure and who might buckle down when hit with it. They look for someone who can handle it in the same fervor as any other working day.

The Expectation

The question on whether you can work under pressure is a pretty simple close ended question, meaning that you can simply answer with a yes or a no. But is that the expectation? Well, partially yes. The interviewer will definitely look forward to an affirmative answer, but they will also be looking at you to elaborate on why you think you can handle pressure. They cannot judge based on a simple yes from everyone who takes the interview. You would benefit more if you add onto an experience in your previous job or a project where you had to handle a pressure situation and you came out unscathed and delivered the results. For instance,

Sample Answer: “I find myself delivering my best when I am under pressure. In fact, there were two projects due for completion on the same date once and I was able to handle it easily by planning well in advance and scheduling the activities accordingly.”

What Should You Emphasize On?

When you are asked this question, you are given an opening to speak about your accomplishments at your previous job.

  1. You can state how you handled pressure in your previous jobs, by stating examples of situations where you had to work under pressure and how you came out of it.
  2. Do not speak about situations where the pressure was purely your own doing, like your procrastination leading to pressure near the due date of the project. Instead focus on the times when there was external pressure and you handled it well.
  3. There is nothing wrong in admitting that you feel stress. It is about how you handle it positively is the key for making the right impression.

What Should You Not Do?

While the question might seem simple, it also has the ability to throw the interviewing candidates off balance causing them to make some common mistakes like,

  1. Stating that they have never been under pressure or never feel stressed. The company understands that everyone does feel stressed and it is on how they handle themselves during stressful situations that they focus on.
  2. Do not speak of times when the stress or the pressure was because of your mistake.
  3. Do not bring in emotions into the talk letting the interviewer know that you were feeling awful or you cried.
  4. Also do not speak about an incident where the pressure did not help you to succeed or about a situation where you couldn’t handle the pressure. It will reflect negatively on you.
  5. Try not to speak about a situation which you feel stressed out in, if you are expecting a similar scenario in your future job.

A good answer would insist that you do feel stressful but you handle it in a better manner. For instance,

Sample Answer: “I try not to let the stress get to me and work on the situation causing the stress. For example, when there is an unsatisfied customer who is causing the stress, rather than panicking, I focus my energy on resolving the issue to make the customer happy. The fact that I have good communication skills also helps in building a good rapport and in lessening the stress in such situations.”

In the above answer, while you agree that there are situations where you feel stressful, you also confirm that you know how to overcome and you focus on the customers. This makes you an ideal choice for any company as you prioritize your customer first.

You need to understand why you are being asked this question to help you to answer it effectively. The question is to gauge whether you will continue working better in stressful situations or you will shut down completely. An employee is considered perfect if he/she can handle anything thrown at them at any point of time.