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Interview Preparation

Answering 'How Do You Work Under Pressure?' in an Interview

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated December 17, 2021

Guide Overview

Why employers ask 'How do you work under pressure?'How to answer 'How do you work under pressure?'Example answers to 'How do you work under pressure?'Tips for staying calm under pressure

Guide Overview

Answering 'How do you work under pressure?'

You may encounter stressful circumstances at some point in your career. What's important is that you have strategies to stay focused and calm. Employers may inquire how you handle pressure at work to find out if you would be a good fit for their role that can be stressful at times. Here we discuss how to effectively answer, 'How do you work under pressure?' and provide you with example answers.

Learn more: 5 Ways to Make a Lasting Impression

Why employers ask 'How do you work under pressure?'

Employers ask, ‘How do you work under pressure?’ to learn more about your stress management techniques. They want to ensure that you can still get your work done even under high-pressure situations. This question gives you the chance to prove that you can continue to produce excellent work under pressure. You can share that you have strategies that help you stay calm and motivated.

How to answer 'How do you work under pressure?'

Follow these steps to successfully answer, ‘How do you work under pressure?’:

1. Think of how you handle stress

While working under pressure, you need ways to lower your stress levels. When crafting your response, think of what strategies you use to stay calm in high-pressure situations. For instance, you could share relaxation techniques like meditation or deep breathing. Likewise, you could discuss how your time management skills help you avoid stress.

2. Share a specific example

Think of a time you worked well under pressure. Perhaps it was when you had a tight deadline or an unexpected change to a project. Share how you managed to thrive under such circumstances and stay focused on your work. Use this example to prove that you can handle stressful situations.

3. Show how stress is a motivator

Employers ask you this interview question to learn how you work in stressful conditions. In your answer, you could take a positive spin and share how a little stress is actually motivating to you. Explain that when the stakes are high, you feel more driven and motivated to do a good job.

Example answers to 'How do you work under pressure?'

There are a variety of ways to communicate that you work well under pressure. Use these examples answers to ‘How do you work under pressure?’ to guide your own responses:

Example 1

Over the course of my career, I have learned to thrive while working under pressure. When I begin to feel stressed at work, I use a few strategies to help me stay focused. First, I learn to accept the situation. If I have a pressing deadline, I work to prioritize my most important tasks and get my work done. I find that being adaptable helps me handle pressure quite well. Another strategy I use is finding a positive mindset. I try to reframe every challenge as an opportunity. This helps me stay motivated and excited to try more difficult tasks.

Example 2

I work well under pressure. I’ve been in a variety of stressful roles and have learned to adapt to all kinds of situations. For instance, when I worked for the publication company, our deadlines were always changing. Oftentimes, we had less time than we initially planned for, which created quite tense situations. Instead of getting stressed, I focused on what I needed to do and prioritized my work. In fact, I shifted my thinking to make it seem like an exciting opportunity instead of an impossible challenge.

Example 3

Knowing how to work well under pressure came quickly to me in my career. Since I started out as a personal assistant, I learned how to separate my own emotions from a high-pressure situation. By focusing on the task at hand and practicing self-care outside of working hours, I found a way to handle even the most stressful circumstances. As I’ve progressed in my career, I continue to use such strategies along with using my time management skills to avoid many stressful situations in the first place. I find that this technique has served me well and keeps me driven.

Tips for staying calm under pressure

If you find that your stress levels soar while you’re under pressure, then you need to find some ways to calm yourself. In order to be honest in your interview, try these strategies the next time you’re feeling stressed:

  • Prioritize your work: If multiple deadlines are approaching at once, there is only so much you can do. Take a moment to get organized and decide which tasks are the most important to tackle. By taking on one thing at a time, you can feel less overwhelmed and have more time to actually work instead of worrying.
  • Practice healthy habits: When you feel your best, you can have the energy to do your best work. By getting enough sleep and exercise, you’ll feel ready to take on the most hectic day. Eating healthy can also give you the nutrition you need to stay focused.
  • Work on positive thinking: Negative thoughts make situations seem worse than they actually are. While working under pressure, reframe the situation as an opportunity to prove yourself. Visualize a happy outcome and actively work toward it.
  • Find a work-life balance: Although your work-life balance may suffer during busy times at work, it’s important to spend a portion of your day doing what you enjoy. Hanging out with family, cooking a delicious meal, or simply turning off your phone and email notifications are all ways you can disconnect from work and unwind.
  • Discover your motivators: When feeling the pressure, you may be inclined to avoid the situation and procrastinate. This can lead to a vicious cycle of more stress as your work piles on. That’s why it’s so important to find ways to motivate yourself. You can do this by creating a personalized reward system, setting goals, or making a friendly competition with another coworker.

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