A lot of our readers reached us to provide them with examples of how do you handle stress and pressure best answer. This is because in modern workplaces your ability to handle pressure at work has become increasingly important. So interview questions like, “describe a stressful situation and how you handled it” are asked frequently.
With 20+ carefully crafted sample answers for how do you handle stress interview question, we want to kickstart your imagination for your own best answers for this tough interview question.
However, before your read these sample answers, we encourage you to read the following article which covers, why interviewers ask this question, similar questions you may face, and how to answer it in detail.
20+ Samples of – How do you work under pressure Example Answer
The important thing to remember before reading the 20+ examples is that these are 20+ approaches to answering this common interview question. You can choose whichever fits the best for you!
1. Steps and Milestones
“In my 3rd year, we were supposed to do a 3-month project per our curriculum. However, to our surprise, the project assigned would have taken 4 to 5 months easily. It included a lot of research, learning, and testing.
While we felt a bit tense, I and a couple of classmates sat together. We analyzed the important steps and milestones in the project completion process. We identified the challenges we will face in this. It lead us to believe that if we put 10 extra hours together every week, we would be in a position to complete the project.
Later, we carefully tracked the completion of steps and those milestones to know where we stand.
Now, that I look back, it was a great learning experience. It gave us confidence and a method to face any such challenging work that we may come across in professional life.”
2. Chance to learn with the systematic hustle
“During the second year of commerce, our seniors who were managing college gatherings asked me if I could take up the responsibility to attract sponsors.
I had not done any such work before. The ask from the seniors seemed tough. But I also felt that I may learn a few valuable life skill if I take this opportunity.
So, I said yes to them and as a first step spoke with a few seniors and college pass-outs, who in the past had handled this responsibility. Fortunately, I got many valuable contacts and tips from them.
I learned that I will need a team of at least 3 to 4 students. So, I managed to persuade 2 of my juniors to work with me on this. Together we made a list of companies and alumni of our college who could be reached. We prepared a small presentation and brainstormed what we would pitch.
3 months of consistent hustle to reach around 30 such contacts finally helped us get Rs. 10 lacs in sponsorships. It was a big experience for all of us from the perspective of planning, hustle, systematic selling, and persuasion.”
3. Being Calm under the pressure
“When under pressure, I naturally tend to become very calm. I know that only when one is calm and focused, can he or she get to the root of any issue. This approach helped me a lot when we faced a last-minute problem in last year’s engineering project.
The project was around the automation of a robotic arm for an industrial application. We had worked on it for a good 6 months. However, just 1 day before the final presentation, something caused the robotic arm to freeze. No matter what we tried, it would not move.
There was a bit of anxiety at that moment and tensions rose in our team of 4 students. I suggested everyone to calm down and make a list of reasons why this may have happened. We came out with 12 scenarios under which it could happen.
Then we used our knowledge of robotics, programming, and electronics to analyze each situation. We soon found out that one of the capacitors in the circuit was burnt. We immediately let our departmental authorities know about it and were able to replace it with a new one. This was while we were working on the 7th scenario we had imagined.
I understand that at the workplace, everything will not always go as planned. But a focused calm mind can almost always find a solution!”
4. Power of Deep Breathing
“When under pressure most of us tend to get anxious and tense. It creates a fight or flight response. It affects our concentration levels and ability to use our brains effectively.
I prefer to use a very simple but effective tool – Deep Breathing. I have used it successfully many times.
In the first semester of our second year in BBA, the professor for marketing, asked me suddenly during the class to come forward and give a 10-minute talk on digital marketing. I had interned with a couple of startups for content marketing during my first year. So, he felt that I could give the class some insight into how it is done in the real world.
I am a shy person by nature and a bit of an introvert. So for me, such an impromptu invitation was challenging. I quickly resorted to 3-4 deep breaths. It calmed me down. I asked for a couple of minutes to gather my thoughts. I remembered and made a list of 4 to 5 key learnings during my stints. Remembered the situations which helped me learn them.
Then, I went on talking for almost 15 minutes. The first couple of minutes were a bit daunting, but soon I found my flow. A few of my friends even messaged me later about how much they enjoyed my talk.”
5. Being systematic is the way
“Generally, I have seen that pressure comes if you are not systematic. Any challenging task or work is given to you if someone believes in you and your capabilities. So, I look at any difficult assignment as a sign of confidence in my abilities.
In the first year of engineering, we had applied mechanics. Most of the engineering students have a fear of this subject, because of the tough problems one has to solve during exams.
During the first semester, I had decided that every week I will spend at least 4 hours on this subject because most of the students fail in it. By the time, the exam preparation leave started I was already decently good at handling most of the problems from the last 5 years’ exam papers.
I even tried finding and solving more challenging problems using google. I was a go-to person for my classmates if they got stuck in this subject for concept clearing and problem-solving. It built a different level of confidence in my analytical abilities while showing me what compounding of consistent focused effort can do!”
6. Pressure boosts focus
“Right from my school days, I have found that a bit of stress and pressure bring my highest focus and concentration levels naturally. I tend to get a certain level of stillness in my mind.
This has happened many times whenever I came across such situations. It happened while playing an important inning in a cricket match for our college team, preparing for intercollegiate business plan competitions, and even during the preparation time of exams.
You can say, such tough situations bring the best out of me. So, I look forward to working in a field where there is a healthy mix of challenge and learning.”
7. What worst can happen?
“When I come across any challenging situation, I tend to ask a simple question to myself: “What worst can happen in this?”
It directs my energies to think about possible worst outcomes, most of which are honestly not that dangerous or bad. Rather when I think of those outcomes, I suddenly start seeing the upside I can have, if I handle the situation with a bit of daring and systematic approach.
During one national level exam, this helped me tackle the most difficult problems in mathematics first! Most of the others took the opposite approach. I was able to find the solutions to those problems in the time available and attack the simple problems later. This helped me secure 3rd spot in the competition, instead of earning a simple certificate of participation. It also developed a certain level of confidence in me.
By now, taking such an approach has been rewarding for me multiple times! So, I look forward to working in your company where I will be pushed to explore the next levels of my abilities.”
8. Brainstorm and ask for help
“During my second semester of 3rd year engineering, I took up the responsibility of our departmental magazine that year. This is tough because the subjects in that semester are especially tough. It was going to test my ability to handle stress and pressure because I was committed to delivering well on both fronts.
So, one day I sat with 3 of my classmates to brainstorm how I should go about it. We were able to see how I could use the start of every day for my studies and time after 3 pm in the afternoon on the magazine work. A couple of them even offered to help me manage the operations of the magazine work. One of them put his hand up to help me with the college project work.
I then used the Pomodoro technique to find 3 hours of focused time for learning to handle the studies. After 3 pm, I would focus single-mindedly on the magazine work with my friends and a couple of juniors.
A few times we had to hustle especially over the weekends, but overall this experience built a lot of understanding of execution under pressure. I scored distinction in my exams that semester while our magazine won first prize at the state level!”
9. Problem as a Challenge
“I have come to know that if you look at any problem or tough situation as a challenge then your entire perception of that situation becomes positive. Your mind works well.
I learned this in the 3rd year first semester exams of MBBS. Generally, before the preparation leaves, we do not get the exact exam schedules. So everyone started their preparations as usual with the clarity that we will get at least 2 to 3 days before each exam day for every subject.
This time, however, for reasons unknown the board set 3 papers on one day! This is huge for an MBBS student because no one has thought that such a thing can happen. This was a test of my time management and execution skills. So, during my preparation leave, I prepared on those 3 subjects more compared to others so that I can complete the revisions in lesser time before the actual exam day.
I focused on spaced repetitions to get a deep understanding as well as the memory of key concepts in them. I also carefully studied the last 10 years of exam papers on those subjects to find patterns. The time available was less, but the approach helped and I was in the top 10 percentile of my batch in those subjects!”
10. To-Do lists and Prioritization
“Creating a to-do list and prioritizing the tasks is my default way of handling pressure at work.
Before I started doing it, I found that every time there was a difficult project or work to be done, I would get anxious. I would only focus on sheer instinctive hard work. Somehow, I was able to complete most of those projects, but I was always falling short of the expected results or outcome.
This is when I researched a bit on the topic of productivity on google. Prioritization and making to-do lists seemed to be a go-to mechanism in almost all of them. I also added a few simple things in my planning to avoid distractions.
The first project I handled after this was an intercollegiate marketing plan competition. We had to take up a company, do the market research, find their target customer profile, build personas, figure out the key marketing channels, think about key challenges in the go-to-market strategy and finally prepare a marketing plan. All of this in the span of just 30 days!
I and a couple of my classmates used the same methods of productivity in this project preparation and we soon realized that we could do much more than we expected because of them. Our presentation was spot on on the day as per our own expectations and we also won the state level 2nd prize for our marketing plan!”
11. Ability to handle pressure – Key strength in the modern workplace
“Faced paced environment with ambitious targets tend to be high-pressure and daunting. It can create plenty of stress. However, how you deal with such work can many times set you apart.
I have learned that ability to handle pressure is a key strength in modern workplaces. You need many skills like the ability to plan, time management skills, disciplined execution, breaking down the larger goal into smaller milestones, and the ability to work well in teams.
In my 2 sales internships in a couple of different startups, there was ample pressure of targets. The sales cycles were longer. Being a startup we were hacking the sales process to reduce sales cycles and increase revenues per customer. This is where all the skills I just mentioned, were of great use. I had to work with the tech team, implementation team, and the customers while working with our data analytics team to understand patterns and plan experiments. Handling so many things was possible only because of a systematic approach and calm mind.
The good thing is we closed 5 important customers in the span of 6 months. My work was appreciated and the director of the company is my reference for any job I will pick up next!”
12. Coaching helped
“I used to feel overwhelmed in the past whenever I would need to handle multiple things at once. I would become anxious. I would get angry once in a while if things don’t happen the way I expected especially under such pressure.
This whole mindset changed once I came across one of my father’s friend who is a professional coach. I discussed this specific issue with him since I felt that in professional life ability to handle stress and pressure will be central to long-term success.
He gave me many tips on how to reframe the situation and how it affects our approach. For example, even if I call a problem, a challenge, I suddenly feel positive and my mind works differently. So I started using the technique of reframing and looking at the same situation from multiple angles.
Then I focused on things tools like to-do lists and tactics like prioritization. I also started using some apps to track my progress on daily basis.
These little improvements came together when I had to juggle between final year studies, projects, and extracurricular activities like the college gathering. I scored distinction, my project received an A grade and in the gathering, I was associate director of the drama.
I want to keep improving myself in these skills because now I know how much more I can learn and grow with them!”
13. Power of systems
“I am a person who believes in the power of systems. I came across a line that inspired me to think about building systems in pretty much everything I do. It was something like – “Your level of success is directly proportional to the quality of systems you have set up!”
When it came to dealing with pressure situations, I took the same approach. I focused first on things I could do to feel calm and handle overwhelm. It can be anything from breathing techniques to focusing on right eating and sleeping. Then I focused on productivity techniques like blocking hours for total focus, using pomodoros, using task trackers, and using collaboration tools to work effectively with my co-workers.
I used this same approach during my digital marketing internship with an ed-tech company that wanted to grow a subscriber list for their newsletter from 1000 to 10,000. It involved me focusing on various activities like content creation, distribution, and setting up the right opt-in mechanisms. We grew the site traffic and social media followers to more than 30,000 in this time with a team of 5 people. Our subscriber list grew to 8,500 which in itself was considered a big success by the company since the 10,000 subscriber target was just to stretch us to our highest possible outcome. They have reached me a couple of times for a digital marketing position in their company!”
14. Meditation and Yoga
“Over the period of the last 3 years, focusing on meditation and yoga has helped me become much more stable and calm. I have been able to generally score well in exams and won a few prizes in inter-school and inter-collegiate competitions, but it came with its own stress.
The increase in stillness within these practices has also helped me introspect more, especially during and after dealing with difficult projects or situations. This lead me to believe in learning more about discipline, the role of habits in life, and the craft of project management. I have been reading, learning, and implementing these things in my life since 2nd year of college.
When I was selected as a students representative during the 3rd year of my college all of this came together. I had to manage my studies and also handle multiple activities of student representation. The habits and systems I learned helped me here. I could lead many new initiatives that year while ensuring that I had a distinction in 3rd year.”
15. Communication is the key
” I have realized that how you communicate when faced with a challenging project or work assignment is important. It involves 2 types of communication. Firstly – How you communicate with your own self. And Secondly – How you communicate with the stakeholders. My central idea is always to lead ourselves with enabling questions!
During the 2nd year of our college, I with 2 of my classmates decided to participate in a robotics competition held in the IITs. It is a national-level competition and can be fairly challenging to even get a chance to participate in.
So, first I chose to ask myself an enabling question -“How can I make this happen?” because usually, we ask ourselves “Can I really handle it?” when faced with a challenge. It put my focus on the next set of questions which include, “What kind of projects have been shown in the competition so far?”, “Which projects have won?” , “Why did they win?” and “How can we create an edge over the competition for ourselves?”
Then we got together and accessed a few things together using these questions – “What skills and technical knowledge does our team have?”. Fortunately, all of us had dabbled a bit in robotics. Then we talked about how to find a great project, how to go about building it, what resources and budget will be involved in it and how to present it.
We may not have won a prize in the competition, but we stood 10th on the list and felt proud about the effort we had taken. It was a huge learning experience!”
16. High Pressure triggers Creativity
“I have seen that high-pressure work situations tend to make me more creative. The brain seems to work at a higher level finding solutions that otherwise would not have hit my mind. This is why
I had read about the art and craft of 10x thinking during my first year. One of the things that excited me while reading was how it triggers your imagination to think out of the box.
To train me to be in this mode of high performance, I started taking small challenges that seemed beyond my reach. For example, I decided to complete my first marathon within 2 months of training.
Since the goal was non-negotiable, I was quick to research the topic, find a good coach, focus on improving my eating and sleeping habits, and plan a carefully crafted schedule that gives me enough time for rest as well as growth in my skills and ability.
What seemed impossible became believable. and on the day of the marathon, I was able to be in the top 100 runners at the end of the day!
I know that this approach will help me grow immensely in both my personal and professional life.”
17. Pause and Take a few steps back
“When under pressure, I have seen that taking a pause and a few steps back has helped me consistently. It is generally the fight or flight response that creates a lot of overwhelm and confusion under stress when faced with a challenge. But the pause gets my mind calm and then taking the steps back brings a certain level of objectivity in my perception of the situation.
During my first internship with a startup, which was in its own initial days, I was given the responsibility of writing and marketing the content daily. I was also supposed to co-ordinate with the sales and marketing teams to create content on relevant and timely topics as well as spread them. I was a one-man army in many ways for the number of things involved in getting this done.
At first, I felt totally overwhelmed. I was confused about where to start and where to finish. I felt that I will need 16 hours a day to deliver properly for this responsibility. But then, I took a day off, gave myself 3-4 hours of focused time, and understood what may take to perform.
I consulted a couple of seniors in the company to get their views. Hired a couple of interns to help me do research as well as social media sharing. I personally focused on topic selection, keyword research, and producing the article. Then every week, I kept on improving the processes and systems in all these areas. The company has given me an offer too, although since they are still pre-revenue, I am not sure of their viability in the next couple of years.
But, it was a great experience and I think I will be able to take on challenging roles consistently going forward.”
18. Keeping out of comfort zone
“To consistently improve upon myself and build the next set of skills, I have purposefully kept myself outside my comfort zone. This is right from the first year of my graduation.
Simple steps like committing to high grades in exams, participating in competitions, and taking an active role in sports or other college-level extracurricular activities have always kept me on my edge. Over the period of 3 years of my bachelor’s in commerce, this has been my way to grow.
I think that, in this job, I will naturally be outside my comfort zone, and because of the habit I have created mentally in the last 3 years, I should be able to succeed in it. My 4 national-level awards in business plan competitions, consistent distinction in exams, and experience of 10 different groups activities during college days are a testimony of it.”
19. Practicing Acceptance
“Practicing acceptance has played a big role in my life while dealing with tough situations or difficult phases in life. I have seen that most of us keep ourselves in denial mode, which only creates higher levels of stress and pressure.
So the first step for me is to remove the ego from my mind and bring a certain level of objectivity. Plus when I wholeheartedly accept the situation as it is, it tends to settle me down. My mind becomes positive and calm.
Now, it is time to ask the question, “What can I do in this scenario?”. This simple but powerful question has always opened doors for me.
During, my 2nd internship in marketing with a manufacturing company, my boss gave me just 24 hours to urgently prepare a presentation for one of their key clients. It was an upsell and cross-sale opportunity for us. I used these same techniques to calm my mind down and focus on the right t questions. I had fully accepted that I have to somehow create a good presentation in mere 24 hours. It was a bit of last-minute hustle but I was systematic in focusing on client pains, possibilities and aligned my presentation with their long-term vision.
I have received a strong recommendation on LinkedIn from my manager for this work I have done!”
20. Big on tech tools
“I am big-time in using technology to be on top of my execution and systematic planning. I have been using to-do list apps, calendly, excel, Zoho, and Trello for various activities that I need to get done on daily basis as well as in monthly planning. These systems ensure that I am on the top of my game.
I was able to manage the operations for our college festival, customer success work in my internship, and even ensure good grades during my college years, thanks to this systematic approach.
I have seen that this works beautifully in all kinds of stressful situations full of pressure. It keeps the head clear and focused. I have never felt overwhelmed and anxious thanks to these systems.”
21. Get a kick out of a challenge
“I get a kick out of any challenge I face. Life feels happening and there is a rush of energy. Unlike most of my peers, I have always been motivated by the pressure of tough challenges.
One of my friends challenged me to win an inter-collegiate competition in programming. It was a tough ask because this competition happens at the state level. there are around 1000+ talented students who participate in it.
I was generally laid back in terms of my studies, but this gave me a huge incentive to perform. I prepared daily for at least 2 to 3 hours for the next 6 months. Solved many challenging programming problems to get a better grasp of programming fundamentals. I felt that I had to show my mettle.
Finally, in the exam, I stood in the top 5. Even if I did not top it, I felt fulfilled with my efforts and the result, especially considering the fact that most of the candidates had prepared for at least 12+ months for this same competition.”
22. Vizualize the challenges or roadblocks
“My natural tendency or mental habit is to prepare for potential roadblocks or pressure situations upfront. I like to be as much prepared as I can. I always take time out to imagine the worst-case scenarios and key challenges in any project I take up. Even if one cannot imagine everything that may happen, this process covers almost 80% of the most common possibilities.
With this kind of clarity and acceptance in my mind, I am usually well prepared to handle anything that comes my way.
During the internship with an event management startup, I was supposed to be the main coordinator for multiple events that were organized for their customers. Events can be tricky with a lot of last-minute obstacles. It can aggravate customers big time!
Our approach however ensured that we achieved an average rating of 4.8 for around 50 events that we had arranged for our customers.”
Final Tips about your – How do you handle stress and pressure best answer
Remember that these 20+ detailed sample answers for how do you handle pressure at work interview question, are supposed to provide you a powerful starting point.
The final answer you prepare needs to consider your strengths and weaknesses, your academics, internships, experiences and projects you have been a part of.
You should align all of them with the key responsibilities and challenges of the job you have applied for.
And last but not least, the way you speak should come out as if you actually show a certain ability to handle pressure at work.