During your job interview, employers like to ask tricky questions to see how well you work under pressure. An example of these types of questions is “How do you handle stress?”

When employers ask about this, they want to know how you behave during stressful situations and whether you’re able to keep your composure.

The best approach is to prepare some sample answers before your interview. This article will help you learn all you need to know about the “How do you handle stress?” question, with tips and examples included! Let’s begin!

Key Takeaways

  • When employers ask you the “How do you handle stress?” question, they want to know whether you’re a good fit for their often stressfully fast-paced work environment.  
  • Since this is a type of behavioral interview question, it’s best to use the STAR Method when you answer.  
  • It’s always a good idea to prepare for these types of questions. Before your interview, think of any stressful situations you’ve gone through at your previous jobs and keep those in mind as rough “How do you handle stress?” example answers.

Why Are Employers Asking “How Do You Handle Stress?” Question?

When employers ask “How do you handle stress?”, they want to know:

  • How you handle stressful work situations. This is a type of behavioral interview question and employers who work in a fast-paced job environment ask it to check whether you can fit with their tight deadline requirements.
  • How you handle stressful personal matters. Besides work related situations, employers might want to hear examples of you dealing with stress at home as well. That is mainly because they want to know whether your personal issues will affect your work performance.
  • How you pick yourself up after stressful situations occur. Employers mainly want to know how well you can alleviate the pressure of a stressful situation with tools such as motivation and leadership skills.

During your interview, you will most likely hear this question in different formats as well, such as:

  • Describe a stressful situation and how you dealt with it.
  • Do you agree that stress can be helpful at times?
  • How do you make difficult decisions?
  • How do you handle stressful situations that involve others?
  • How do you handle stress and pressure?

job interview

How to Prepare for “How Do You Handle Stress?” Question

When you’re answering this common interview question, keep the following steps in mind:

  1. Think of a situation where you had to deal with a stressful task. Try to come up with a list of stressful situations you have encountered and what steps you took to calm everyone involved down.
  2. Use the STAR method to answer. Since the “How do you handle stress at work?” question is a behavioral one, it’s best to use the STAR Method to formulate your answer. The acronym STAR stands for: Situation, Task, Action and Result. This means a detailed explanation of the stressful situation, what you considered doing to resolve the issue, what you eventually did to resolve it and what your efforts resulted in..
  3. Mention your soft skills. After having your fair share of stressful work situations, you will have definitely honed some important soft skills. These are proper time management skills, prioritization skills and patience.
  4. Mention that you channel stress and pressure into motivation. Talk about how you use stress to focus and get the job done. Mention that you’ve learned how to make deadlines more motivating and less stressful.

What to Keep in Mind When Answering “How Do You Handle Stress?” Question

Here are some things to remember while answering the “How do you handle stress?” question:

Talk About Relevant Examples

As previously mentioned, it’s always a good tactic to prepare for your interview with some sample questions and answers.

Do more thorough research on the company and try to always tailor your answer to the job description, as recruiters might be looking for a more specific example from you to see whether you’re a good fit for the job.

Focus on the Positives

Try to answer the question while focusing on the positives. Your answer should show the interviewers that you can bring value to their company. Try to show that you are self-aware and know that some situations can be more stressful than others.

Focus on positive things that can help you grow professionally, since that’s what employers want to hear from you. Try to mention situations where stress helped you overcome a tough situation. This way, they’ll notice you have experience with using coping mechanisms in stressful situations.

Demonstrate Your Coping Techniques

It goes without saying that you shouldn’t mention that one of your coping mechanisms is to cry. Although that’s completely normal and understandable, try to tell employers about some more pragmatic coping mechanisms, such as proper breathing exercises and practicing meditation and mindfulness.

Besides that, you can also explain that you do your best to prevent stressful situations as well, primarily by getting rid of distractions so you can focus on your job and do everything on time.

As employers are looking for someone who can deal with these situations well, mentioning how stress always gets to you will probably hurt your chances of getting the job.


Another good way to focus on the positive aspects of a stressful situation is to say that you were able to learn more about yourself and develop your soft skills while dealing with these situations at work.

You can say you developed some of the following:

  • Communication skills (through discussing the issues with your employers and colleagues)
  • Organization skills (through breaking up and prioritizing tasks to finish them on time)
  • Leadership skills (through helping out your team in a difficult situation)
  • Problem-solving skills (through having to resolve conflicts within your team)

It’s always a good idea to tailor these skills to the job description as well, since employers are always keen on getting to know you through your skillset.

The Outcome Is Positive

The stressful situation you use as an example should always have a positive outcome. Since the “How do you handle stress?” interview question is of a behavioral type, you should showcase how your actions resulted in an accomplishment instead of a failure.

stressful job how do you handle stress

“How Do You Handle Stress?” Sample Answers

As long as you use the STAR method to answer this question, you’ll be all set! Let’s look at some sample “How do you handle stress?” answers formulated using this method:

#1. Sample Answer

Example answer: When I’m in the middle of a stressful situation, I try to focus on the end result. This thought process allows me to use the stress and pressure as a way to motivate myself to finish the task properly.

I remember having this strict deadline once, where I had to submit a sales report by the end of the month, and it was already the 20th. I took a step back and reminded myself that finishing this job will help me feel proud of myself, and it’s worth it if I just push a little more. That’s exactly what I did, and it’s now one of my most used tactics to stay positive while operating in a stressful environment.

Why this answer works: This is a perfect response for sales jobs, as you’re mentioning the keyword and telling the recruiters that you are channeling the stressful situation into motivation. It’s tailored to the job description, and it showcases your positive attitude.

#2. Sample Answer

Example: I am a true believer that stress can be a good thing under some circumstances. At my last IT job, we had weekly evaluations, and we had to submit reports for the entire month. This has taught me how to balance my tasks so I can finish them on time.

Even when I had to finish a client’s code within the week, I managed to pull through by using the pressure as a fuel and by organizing every step I needed to take to finish the task. With these time management and organizational skills, I was always able to minimize my stress levels while working on demanding projects.

Why this answer works: It’s a great idea to use wording like this because your technical and organizational skills are being emphasized.

#3. Sample Answer

Example answer:

I worked as a content writer at my previous job, and I often encountered tight deadlines. I remember one particular time our deadline changed, and since it was coming sooner than expected, it ended up being even more stressful. I tried to solve the issue by prompting my coworkers and teammates to divide tasks amongst ourselves so as to finish the project on time.

That is exactly what happened!

Why this answer works: Here you’ve demonstrated your leadership and communication skills, which are important for solving stressful issues.

What Not to Say & Do When Answering “How Do You Handle Stress?” Question

Now that we’ve gone through what you should do during your interview, let’s look at some tips on what to avoid when answering the “How do you handle stress?” question:

Don’t Focus on Negative Feelings

Once you start feeling stressed, a sense of panic might start overwhelming you. Feelings like these are normal, but it’s best to keep them to yourself. Don’t share them with your interviewer, as they might think you’re too emotional.

Instead, try to demonstrate that you can turn your negative feelings into positive ones and always remain functional and calm. The interviewer wants to know whether the actions you took solved the issue, not how you felt during the process.

Don’t Claim You Are Stress-Free

Acknowledge stress and never say that you are immune to it. It’s normal for everyone to get anxious in stressful situations.

Saying that you are stress-free might sound like a good answer, but it actually shows that you’re either untruthful, inexperienced, or not self-aware, and neither of these impressions will help your chances of getting the job.

Don’t Display Stressful Gesticulation

Be mindful of your body language during your interview. Try to film yourself doing a mock interview before your actual one to see if you’re doing any repetitive movements or whether you’re prone to biting your nails and fidgeting around.

Instead, try to stay relatively still, maintain a good posture, and always make proper eye contact so that you seem comfortable and confident.

Don’t Mention Stressful Situations You Caused

Last but not least, avoid mentioning any situations where you caused trouble. Instead, focus on situations that were out of your control and what you did to resolve them.

Aim for situations that demonstrate you’re responsible.

boss yelling at work how do you handle stress

Final Thoughts

Although the “How do you handle stress?” interview question can be tricky, preparing sample answers beforehand can help you out tremendously.

Make a list of potential stressful situations you can mention and be sure to use the STAR method to formulate your answer.

We hope our guide and sample answers have helped you understand this important interview question better, and we wish you good luck on your next interview!