Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Answering Interview Questions: How do you respond to working under pressure?

In continuation of how to answer interview questions, today I'm going to look at the question, "How do you respond to working under pressure?"

If you've read my previous articles on answering interview questions, you should realise by now that there is a little bit more going on behind the scenes when it comes to why interviewers ask these questions, and this working under pressure one is no exception.

The question is asked firstly to gauge what your view of what 'working under pressure' means, and secondly your answer provides insight as to whether you possess the composure, skills and personal attributes to remain calm, focused and in control when faced with working under difficult, stressful, time pressured conditions.

Your answer can hint at laziness vs pro-activeness, able to handle such situations vs not being able to: do you blow your top, rant and rave resentfully and then cut corners or throw your hands up in the air fuming 'this is unfair!' or 'this is too much!'; or do you stay calm, roll up your sleeves and work until the task is done or your shift is over. Do you love the thrill of meeting deadlines and challenges, or do you just want to go to work, do what you have to and then go home and not have to think about work until your next shift? (Can you see the different personalities in this last paragraph? By the way: each of these candidates all believe they are suitable for the vacancy; see how the different possible responses can help employers determine which ones best meet their requirements and business culture?)

The way top career advisers recommend jobseekers answer this question is by providing a specific example of a time when they worked in a stressful situation, and talk about the actions they took and the results they achieved.

I agree: you could discuss what you did / do that helps you keep it together - do you use breathing techniques, pick up the pace to match demand, that type of thing.

When answering, I recommend that you use the E.A.R model - which stands for Example, Action, and Result.

With Example, you briefly describe the scenario - it could be a one-off circumstance or a regular occurrence - in which their was great pressure to meet a deadline.  Once done, you then move on to discussing the Actions that you personally take, and then end with a positive Result.  

Be consciously mindful of the impression your words and actions make before, during and after an interview, and strive to ensure that they always portray you as confident, capable and professional.

Although you don't know which questions will be asked at a job interview (or why the the company has specifically chosen them), you are able to reduce any interview nervousness you might experience by practicising answering some of the commonly asked questions in preparation for when you start getting invitations to attend interviews well ahead of time.

If you haven't already done so, check out the other posts in the Answering Interview Questions series, which you can access by clicking on the post titles listed below:

Answering Interview Questions: What are your strengths?

Answering Interview Questions: Why do you want to work here?

Answering Interview Questions: What have been your achievements to date?

Answering Interview Questions: What did you dislike about your last job?

Answering Interview Questions: Tell Me about yourself

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