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Job interview question and answer: How do you handle pressure?

Posted October 13, 2011, by Josie Chun

For most employers, the ideal candidate is someone who stays cool under pressure – someone who neither explodes at other people when the pressure’s on, nor collapses into a useless, quivering heap. They want someone who calmly assesses the situation, gets organised, stays focused, and simply gets the job done.

If this is you, be sure to impress your prospective employer with some concrete examples of your cool, can-do attitude. Describe a situation when you were under the gun and detail how you approached the situation, demonstrating how you managed to organise, mobilise and deliver a good result. If you’re one of those people who actually performs better when under pressure, all the better.

If, on the other hand, you’re someone who doesn’t function well under pressure, all is not lost. You can say that as much as possible, you try to avoid creating pressure-filled situations by being super-organised and giving yourself lots of lead time, being as well-prepared as possible and, most of all, knowing how to prioritise.

You can also describe a situation from your personal life where you exhibited grace under pressure. Highlight the positive qualities you demonstrated in the situation, which could have been the ability to motivate others or communicate clearly.

Some jobs are inherently pressure-filled by nature, so make sure you’re going for a job you can handle. If dealing with pressure isn’t your thing, you might want to reconsider your move into a job that is very deadline-driven or where you’re under constant pressure to produce and deliver. Remember, finding the right job is all about finding the right fit between your strengths and personality, and the role.

Josie Chun

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