Interviewers or hiring managers asks specific questions to candidates in order to gauge different things – the candidate’s presence of mind, body language, ability to answer tricky questions, calm and composure during the HR interview, and most importantly, how a potential candidate would perform in the role at hand. One possible question that may help them figure out all of the above is, ‘Can you work under pressure?’
The best way to approach this question is to describe some situations where you have actually worked under pressure or felt the pressure at your job (meet deadlines or difficult clients) and how you tackled the situation and emerged as a winner. Though the question may seem easy, it is not a typical yes or no question. So, do not attempt a short and easy answer, instead substantiate with real life references.
“I believe I can as it is a part of my current job. In my current position as the team lead, I can be faced with myriad stressful situations that require me to work under pressure on a daily basis and I have learned to deal with it. Once I accomplish a challenging task, I feel I have learnt something from it, which will be useful in my next project perhaps.”
“Often, pressure challenges me to perform better. I am in a customer support role in my present organisation. No two days are similar and we as a team always have to be on our toes to ensure everything is fine. I believe that we encourage a panic situation just by reacting to it. The trick is to stay calm and figure a way out – it is not always easy but it is not impossible either. In my case, I will review the facts or the issues calmly and then respond to the query or propose a solution all while maintaining calm.”
“It is in my current job that I discovered that I perform better under pressure. I enjoy undertaking challenging assignments and coming up with relevant solutions. In the last quarter, we as a team had two different projects that were both due the same week. Under my leadership, we did a lot of brainstorming session as how to bring out the best in the team, and I delegated certain tasks as per our plan, and the ultimate result was a huge success. It was a Herculean task but at the end, what mattered most was the excellent team work, dedication, and timely delivery.”
“Pressure is no one’s buddy, but I understand that it is a part of our work and life, and we cannot ignore its presence. I believe that the best way to deal with it is to be like the river – a river makes its own way out of a huddle. It deviates to keep flowing. Similarly, in my job which is pretty demanding at times, I prefer to keep an open mind, seek help when needed, and concentrate on the task at hand.”
“In my 5 years of professional life, I have learned to deal with pressure, thanks to my mentors and my willingness to learn, irrespective of anything. Though I feel tensed at times, yet I do not let tension win over me. Rather than reacting, I try to pause and gather my thoughts, remain calm, and think of a positive outcome.
For example, my boss once told me to prepare a presentation for the CEO within 24 hours. It took some time for me to understand the enormity of the situation. I know I cannot deliver my best under pressure, so here’s what I did - I took a few hours to clear my mind and then came up with a plan.
I prepared the presentation, asked my friend to critically review it, re-worked on certain slides, and when I was fully satisfied, I closed my laptop and thought all will be fine. The next day, I presented to our CEO who appreciated my hard work. It is not easy to perform well under pressure, but as long as I know what works for me, I am happy!”
“I believe job pressure is as inevitable as life itself. So, I try and take out the emotional factors and work hard. I always prioritize and organize my work and hence that gives me an edge over pressure. Whenever time becomes a constraint, I put in some extra effort and time to meet the deadline. In a way, pressure has nothing to do with my work, it is part of my work and I have accepted it.”
“Practically speaking, everyone is affected by stress, but the winner is he who knows how to nip it in the bud and move on. I am a survivor and a winner in that sense. Whenever there is pressure of work, I try to tackle it from a mental and physical stand-point. While the former would mean being relaxed and composed, the latter entails that I prioritize my job categorically so that I meet my deadlines. I also believe that a regular exercise regimen also helps to take on the challenges of life head on. I am a yoga enthusiast and I can safely say that it has helped me in many ways.”
“In my job as a writer cum editor, the pressure is omnipresent. There are strict deadlines and constant workload. But, by maintaining a calendar and planning ahead, I am now able to organise my work much better and complete my projects more efficiently.”
“I have consistently worked under pressure in my career, and it is no different in my present job as well. I feel like I have evolved because of it. I can now react well to any situation with cool mind and I think that I can be an asset to an organization.”
“Having many different assignments to work on or an upcoming deadline is the new normal in today’s corporate world. A certain amount of pressure is required in a job as it helps me to stay motivated and productive. This also allows me to channel my energy really well into accomplishing tasks efficiently.
While these examples will help you to give an idea of answering this question, remember to be yourself throughout the interview. Be realistic and brave - answers like “stress cannot affect me” or “I am cool and can stay away from pressure” will only annoy the interviewer and make him feel that you are immature and not professional at all.
Let’s face it, everyone is affected with work pressure but the main thing is how you react on the face of it. Running away from pressure does not help anyone, but working out a solution helps us to emerge as achievers!
At the end of the interview, you should not be perceived as an over confident or unrealistic person. Instead, you need to present yourself as a competent person in times of adversity who believes that there is light at the end of the tunnel.All the best!