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How do you deal with stressful situations in the workplace?

1 of 25 Competency Interview Questions and Answers Written by Rachelle Enns

Updated on March 23rd, 2019 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
How to Answer

Ah, the challenge of stress management! Your ability to manage stress will directly influence your ability to do your job successfully. Before answering this question, think of some ways you have learned to deal with stress at work. You can't always take a break when you need it, so what will you do?

Some workplace stress management strategies are:

- Track your primary stress factors and make a plan for overcoming those
- Establish boundaries with distracting coworkers
- Breathing exercises, or meditation
- Be sure to recharge your emotional batteries throughout the day
- Express your stress to your manager/supervisor
- Ask for help

Professional Answer Examples
General
Answer example

"I've learned some helpful breathing techniques that I can do while I'm at work. Even when I'm feeling rushed or overwhelmed by a situation, I can slow down my breathing and remain calm. Once I understood that it was okay for me to take a minute for myself, I learned to handle workplace stressors in a whole new way."

Admin
Answer example

"I tend to work best under stressful situations. For example, the pressure of deadlines from my boss often drive me to work faster and better. I am resistant to stress and able to focus on the work that needs to get accomplished."

Manager
Answer example

"When stressed, I try to take a break, re-focus, and then get back to work. I also like listening to music in my office when it's appropriate. Not all businesses are OK with that, and I understand."

Marketing
Answer example

"Stressful situations are bound to happen, and I typically take them as they come and they don't ruffle me too much. I know it's part of the creative process and it's going to pass soon enough."

Retail
Answer example

"Retail can be very stressful, especially during the holiday season, Black Friday, and other major sales. I resist the stress by being prepared, taking one task at a time, and encouraging teamwork."

Sales
Answer example

"I do well under pressure or stress, within reason. I obviously need to balance myself and my workload out, as much as possible, or it can become an overwhelming workplace vibe. I know myself and my triggers pretty well, so when I feel like there's too much on my plate, I know how to center myself and just dig in and get through it, knowing I'll come out better on the other side."

Teacher
Answer example

"I take stressful situations in stride, as much as possible. I'm a mom, a teacher... not a whole lot can phase me at this point, honestly."

Surgical First Assistant
Answer example

"I suppose all health care providers could tell one thing or another that makes us feel like the area we work in is unique. That is because we all do have unique responsibilities, but one main goal, which is to give our patients a better quality of life."

Home Health Aide
Answer example

"As a Home Health Aide, I fully expect to be put into stressful situations and am able to professionally handle a broad scope of pressure. My current supervisor, if you call for a reference, will also be able to attest to my coping strategies when under stress and pressure."

Ultrasound Technician
Answer example

"I have learned to stay relaxed and try not to react. For example, I prioritize tasks that need to get done each day working towards that final deadline to make sure I use my time wisely and have realistic expectations. This helps me to feel less stressed."

Ramp Agent
Answer example

"I always remain calm and look for ways to be more efficient. For instance, if there is an unexpected deadline, I will determine what can be done to ensure the deadline can be met, I will write down the steps to take to ensure successful completion and will delegate a few tasks if necessary. In brief, I am always ready to adjust my approach because stressful situations are bound to occur in a professional environment."

Technical Support Specialist
Answer example

"As a Technical Support Specialist, I fully expect to be put into stressful situations and am able to professionally handle a broad scope of pressure. My current supervisor, if you call for a reference, will also be able to attest to my coping strategies when under stress and pressure."

Elementary Teacher
Answer example

"When I get stressed, I know that I tend to get tunnel vision and I bury myself in my work. So I set timers to keep myself on track, and when I set alarms to go take a break and take a breather. When I get home, I cook because it focuses me on a task in the present moment. Then I write in my journal if I need to get anything out of my system. That way, the next morning I'm refreshed and ready to take on everything I need to."

Social Studies Teacher
Answer example

"I have learned to stay relaxed and try not to react. I know what situations make me stressed, and I know how to respond. Typically if I am overwhelmed with too much work on a tight deadline, I prioritize tasks that need to get done each day working towards that final deadline to make sure I use my time wisely and have realistic expectations. This helps me to feel less stressed."

Treasurer
Answer example

"Yes, I'm motivated by pressure. Sometimes it helps give me that extra push to complete projects. I stay motivated by setting deadlines on my calendar and milestones for goals I want to achieve, so that I can maintain my momentum each step of the way."

Zookeeper
Answer example

"I do work well under stressful situations. In my current position the most stressful situations are when an animal needs to be quarantined. During that time, I remain calm by strictly following the guidelines I am given. This keeps me focused and alleviates a lot of pressure."

Warehouse Clerk
Answer example

"I always remain calm and look for ways to swiftly solve the problem. For instance, if there is an unexpected deadline, I will determine what can be done to ensure the deadline is met. I will do a mindmap of steps to ensure successful completion and will delegate a few tasks if necessary. In brief, I am always ready to adjust my approach because stressful situations are bound to occur in a warehouse environment."

Medical Transcriptionist
Answer example

"I know how frustrating it can be waiting on test results. However, my job as a transcriptionist is not direct patient care. I would tell my family member that I am not allowed to discuss any information in any reports that I may see and that she has to either call her doctor's office or make an appointment to go in to get her results."

Preschool Teacher
Answer example

"I've learned some helpful breathing techniques that I can do while I'm in the classroom. Sometimes my kids will do them with me! Even when I'm feeling rushed or overwhelmed by a situation, I can slow down my breathing and remain calm. Once I understood that it was okay for me to take a minute for myself, I learned to handle workplace stressors in a whole new way."

Newspaper Delivery Driver
Answer example

"I feel that I do some of my best work under stress. I am able to fully concentrate and immerse myself into the job without interruptions."

Psychiatrist
Answer example

"Uncertainty on completing a task sometimes causes me stress, but I typically focus on research and information-gathering to resolve this challenge. I never hesitate to reach out to my leader should I beco"

Laboratory Assistant
Answer example

"I have been told by my previous and current supervisor that I manage stress very well. Being a laboratory assistant is a demanding position, and I knew that before I committed to this career path. I stay calm by being an open communicator and keeping the end goal in mind."

Phlebotomist
Answer example

"I've learned not to take words or actions of stressed patients personally. Even when I'm feeling rushed or overwhelmed by a deadline and being pulled in too many directions, I can ground myself knowing that I'm providing the best customer service and caring for my patients the best way that I can."

Swim Instructor
Answer example

"I am very good at managing stressful situations. I have experienced stress on the job many times but one particular experience was just last week when I had a child, untrained, jump into the deep end of the pool without a lifejacket. He wasn't trained and it was certain that he was in over his head. The parents were watching which added a lot of stress to the situation. I was able to get my class to jump out of the pool while I tended to the child. In the end, he was okay. It was very intense."

Newspaper Editor
Answer example

"Whenever I feel stressed out, I tell myself to slow down and breathe. If I feel myself getting tense, or my heart starts racing, I know immediately that I'm stressed and I discreetly pinch myself in the leg to remind myself that I'm in control. There was this one time that a writer was getting very short with me about the edits that I suggested. I could tell from the beginning because he was frowning and staring at the page, I noticed that's what he does when he's stressed out. He started yelling at me, but I didn't yell back. Instead I showed him compassion. In the end, we worked things out much faster that way, and we were able to meet the deadline."

Critical Care Nurse
Answer example

"I remember when I first began my nursing career, I thought I had to do everything for everyone. I ended up taking on too many tasks and falling behind with my assignments. One of my supervisors told me that a patient had complained because I seemed too rushed and asked for a new nurse to be assigned to her. I was so embarrassed because I didn't want anyone to feel like I couldn't do my job. I apologized to the supervisor and to my patient and explained that I had taken on some extra assignments, but that I didn't mean to make her feel neglected. When I apologized, the patient agreed to let me continue caring for her. I learned from that experience that it's ok to want to give more, but that I should not stretch myself too thin and risk compromising patient care."

Kitchen Helper
Answer example

"I am very good at handling stressful situations. Working in a kitchen for so many years, I am accustomed to pressure situations. My previous chef often complimented me on my ability to manage stress well. I'll take a quick breather throughout the day if needed and other than that, I just let things roll off my shoulders if they get too stressful."

Tailors, Dressmakers, and Custom Sewers
Answer example

"When things get stressful at work, I tend to get nervous and fidgety. So I just remind myself to take short breaks periodically. I set a timer and, when it rings, I stand up, take deep breaths, and stretch. I also keep a little notepad next to me to remind me of what I was working on just before the break, so that I can make sure I don't make mistakes or overlook something important."

Legal Assistants
Answer example

"Yes, I do work very well under pressure. One example of this is when I worked in my previous firm I was a legal assistant to 2 full time lawyers, and one part time. I heard from them a lot that I always managed the pressure in a very professional and calm way."

Language Interpreter
Answer example

"I respond well in stressful situations. My previous supervisor often complimented me on this fact as well. When I do find myself in a stressful situation, I am sure to take a step back. I breathe, and then assess before reacting. I am conscious to always react in a way that I would be proud of, no matter how high the stress level is."

Summer Law Clerk
Answer example

"In stressful situations, I always remain calm and look for ways to be more efficient. For instance, if there is an unexpected deadline, I will determine what can be done to ensure the deadline can be met, I will write down the steps to take to ensure successful completion and will delegate a few tasks if necessary. In brief, I am always ready to adjust my approach because stressful situations are bound to occur in a professional environment."

Machinist
Answer example

"I've learned some helpful breathing techniques that I can do while I'm at work. Even when I'm feeling rushed or overwhelmed by a situation, I am able to slow down my breathing and remain calm. Once I understood that it was okay for me to take a minute for myself, I learned to handle workplace stressors in a whole new way."

Millwright
Answer example

"I am quite proud of my strong abilities to work well under pressure. High pressure situations force me to try harder, be more critical of my work, and assess my priorities more stringently."

Ticket Agent
Answer example

"I thrive under pressure and remain calm when faced with stressful situations. I feel challenged and as such, am even more determined to perform to the best of my abilities."

Sous Chef
Answer example

"I handle stressful situations by taking the time to step aside, take a deep breath, and assess the situation at hand before reacting. I will ask for help when needed and am not afraid of learning something new."

Host or Hostess
Answer example

"I know that working in a restaurant can be fast-paced and stressful, but I am comfortable working in that type of environment. I have worked retail during the holidays and learned to stay calm, take breaks when I can, and not to take anything personally."

Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor
Answer example

"Pressure is very important to me. Good pressure, such as having interesting clients, or a client with what seems to have an impossible case, helps me to stay motivated and productive."

Line Cook
Answer example

"As a line cook, working in a fast-paced environment under pressure comes with the territory. It is the only environment I know! In all of my roles as a line cook, I have continued to contribute high performance during high-pressure meal servings when it pays greatly to hustle!"

Urban and Regional Planners
Answer example

"Last week our client made some pretty significant changes to our plans just 2 days before the submittal deadline. Everyone was really stressed. I agreed to work many hours of overtime for those 2 days so that we could hit the deadline our client required. It's easy to freeze up in times like that so I was sure to create a milestones schedule and stick to that. I also made sure to utilize our technical staff and junior planners more than usual. We hit our deadline and our client was thrilled!"

Addiction Counselor
Answer example

"I am pretty open with regard to what kind of schedule I can work. I do have children and would like to spend some after school time with them. However, my spouse and I work well together to make sure that one of us is home when the other is not. Also, we have additional family resources if the children need to be supervised and neither of us is able to be home at a specific time."

Respiratory Therapists
Answer example

" ample answer: sWhen I start to feel stressed, I take a step back and remind myself to stay calm. I also take time to think through any challenges I'm facing to troubleshoot or problem solve. By removing myself just for a moment and thinking from a 10,000 foot overview, "

Substance Abuse Counselor
Answer example

"I can cope with stressful situations. Not only my situations but advise patients on how to handle their stressful situations."

Purchasing Manager
Answer example

"The important thing to do during any stressful situation is to maintain professionalism and be as transparent as possible. By making everyone aware of all the facts, assuring that we all can solve the problem, stressful situations can be energizing and opportunities to be creative to solve problems. Few years back one of our main suppliers decided to stop working with us during the peak season. This was a real stressful situation as none of us were prepared for anything like this. We tried to talk him into continuing the supplies for at least that season but he refused as he was getting higher prices from some other company. We could not outmatch those prices. It was tough as we could not find any big supplier during that time of the year. So I contacted several small suppliers that were working with us and asked them to increase the supplies as much as they could. Also introduces some new suppliers. For quality checks we didn't have a separate team so I appointed some of the most experienced workers for this task and we were able to get over the crisis within a week's time."

Urologists
Answer example

"The diversity of specialty areas is something I love about the healthcare field. I like the idea of being in a career that challenges me to learn and grow. I believe we all have something that we can contribute to others and I like to embrace the diversity among those that I work with."

Security Manager
Answer example

"I make a point to develop positive relationships with my coworkers. When I have tight deadlines and alarms going off, I know I can depend on my team to support me."

Alcohol and Drug Counselor
Answer example

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Daycare Worker
Answer example

"I currently have a couple of delinquent team members who are on the brink of termination. I never like to see people leave, but you cannot force others to have a strong work ethic. The turnover in our daycare center and the uncertainty of people showing up to work is currently my biggest stressor."

Machinist Mechanic
Answer example

"I've learned some helpful breathing techniques that I can do while I'm at work. Even when I'm feeling rushed or overwhelmed by a patient situation, I am able to slow down my breath and remain calm. Patient care will always be my top priority, and that's why I've learned to manage my stress effectively."

Maintenance
Answer example

"I am well trained when it comes to effectively managing stressful situations. Before losing my cool, I am sure to review the situation, break the issue down to the simplest factor, and work my way through the problem from there. When you look at most problems for what they are you can see that the majority of situations are simple to solve."

Electrician Apprentice
Answer example

"When I first started my apprenticeship, I was given a pretty important job to troubleshoot. My supervisor was aware that it was above my abilities, but he wanted to see if I would ask for help. I took a critical eye to the situation, a few deep breaths and presented my recommendation to him. The general feedback in my career is that I do handle stressful situations quite well."

Field Producer
Answer example

"I find that I do some of my best work under stress. I like being given a deadline or a time crunch so I can work fast and not have time to second guess my decisions."

Voice Writing Reporter
Answer example

"I am confident that my work does not suffer as a result of stress. While stressful situations can weigh on a voice writing reporter, I find that I have handled these situations well in the past and will continue to do so in the future."

Pastry Chef
Answer example

"I am experienced in keeping up with the fast pace of the kitchen and working with my staff to prepare the best quality baked goods."

Electrical Technician
Answer example

"I handle stress very well, and when you call my references, they will attest to this fact. When I am under pressure on the job, I focus on the task at hand and make sure not to get distracted. Staying on deadline is very helpful, and I will delegate when necessary to alleviate some stress."

Training Specialist
Answer example

"Pressure is where my best work kicks into overdrive and I shine. There are many pressures in training and development of an organization. I have learned over the years to embrace these moments and take them as opportunities to shine with my best work."

Pharmaceutical Sales
Answer example

"I have learned the differences between negative stress and positive pressure and react accordingly. I reduce negative stress by dealing with the situation and perform under positive pressure by doing my best work."

Patient Services Coordinator
Answer example

"I work very well under pressure, if not better. For me, the added stress of a tight deadline or a big challenge is really exciting for me. My previous manager often complimented me on my ability to successfully manage pressure in the workplace."

Court Clerk
Answer example

"I've learned not to take words or actions of stressed clients personally. Even when I'm feeling rushed or overwhelmed by a deadline and being pulled in too many directions, I can ground myself to ensure that my work is correct and properly filed."

Quality Control Manager
Answer example

"I do work very well under pressure. My previous supervisor at ABC Company commented quite frequently on my ability to remain calm during stressful situations. I can easily look at a problem with a keen eye to see what the root truly is which helps me to stay calm under pressure."

Economist
Answer example

"I handle stressful situations very well. Whenever I feel a bit overwhelmed, I will take a step back for a breather. I try to re-assess the situation and look at it in a new light. My current manager comments quite often on my ability to handle high pressure very well."

Mortgage Loan Processor
Answer example

"I work very well under pressure and have been complimented consistently on my ability to do so. I stay cool and collected by remaining organized and working overtime if a deadline is involved."

Detective
Answer example

"I am highly trained to withstand a lot of stress and pressure on the job. I manage stressful situations by breaking them down into smaller, more manageable issues and scenarios. From there, I find the situations become less overwhelming and easier to manage."

Air Traffic Controllers
Answer example

"I handle stressful situations very well. Throughout my career, I have been consistently complimented by my colleagues on my ability to work well under pressure. In my previous performance review, my supervisor commented on my ability to think clearly in high-pressure situations."

Physical Therapist
Answer example

"Throughout my career, I've taken personal pride in the progress of my patients and I've found myself most stressed when a particular patient is rehabbing according to my plan. Over time, I've learned to analyze the progress of each patient individually and take into account personal pieces from each patient that may be impeding on their progress."

Typist
Answer example

"I thrive under pressure and always remain calm in stressful situations. I sincerely believe that exercising on a regular basis significantly helps me stay calm in stressful situations."

Journalist
Answer example

"As a journalist, I am much closer to the AP Style, since it helps me to prevent potentially embarrassing errors when it comes to titles, citing sources, or accidental plagiarism. With that said, I am also very familiar with Chicago Style, which I refer to when writing larger pieces such as ebooks or editorials."

Film and Video Editor
Answer example

"I find that I do my best work under pressure. I am able to concentrate strictly on the job at hand and put all my doubts about the project aside."

Written by:

Rachelle Enns
Rachelle Enns is a job search expert, executive headhunter, career catalyst, and interview coach. Utilized by top talent from Fortune companies like Microsoft, General Electric, and Nestle, she helps professionals position themselves in today's competitive digital marketplace. Rachelle founded Renovate My Resume and Executive Resume Solutions, two companies focused on helping job seekers get their edge back. She helps everyone from new graduates looking for their first placement, to CEO's who want more out of their career. Rachelle coaches students to executives on how to master the toughest interview questions and how to handle the most bizarre interview situations; all with confidence and poise. Rachelle trains other career coaches, recruiters, and resume writers, globally. A big part of her job is also spent coaching HR professionals on how to bring the human touch back into their interview and hiring process.
First written on: 08/10/2016
Last modified on: 03/23/2019

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