When you’re interviewing for a job, there are always standard questions that will inevitably be asked — What are some of your strengths and weaknesses? Why did you apply for this job? Where do you see yourself in five years? These questions may seem trite, but the interviewer has a reason for asking them. These questions help the interviewer judge if you’d be a good professional and cultural fit for the position and for the office.

One of the more common questions asked is: How do you handle stress? Much like the other questions, it’s vital for a potential employer to have an idea about how well someone handles high-pressure situations.

Stress in the Workplace

When you’re in the workforce, you’re faced with stress every single day. Whether you’re balancing assignments, trying to meet a deadline, or even simply weeding through your email, chances are something will make you want to pull your hair out. Getting stressed in the office is normal.

However, you need to know how to manage your stress well if you want to succeed in the working world. Remember, stress is not always bad — it just our body’s way of reacting to certain situations. You can use your stress as a motivator rather than a deterrent. For example, if you’re looking to work as an associate in a law firm, you’re going to have to accommodate whatever your employers need you to do — better to use the stress to help you.

Harness Your Tense Feelings

If you let your stress get out of hand, it can have detrimental effects not only on yourself but the people you interact with during your day. Some careers are inherently dependent upon your ability to keep a cool head. There are 210,000-440,000 medical negligence cases filed against doctors each year. Not only are doctors responsible for harm to patients, but there are dire consequences for them and for others if they fail to do so.

Regardless of the nature of your job, knowing how to deal with stress is important. So when you’re being interviewed for a potential job, your employer need to know how you deal with it.

Giving the Right Answer

It’s never a smart idea to lie in an interview, as the lies can come back to haunt you in the future. However, you should still answer each question in a way that highlights your strengths and makes you a viable contender for the job. Some smart tips to answer this question include:

  • You react to situations, rather than the stress itself.
  • You work best under pressure and use the stress to help motivate yourself.
  • Mention you exercise or have hobbies that help relieve your stress.
  • Acknowledge that you feel stressed in certain situations but you focus on how you can improve upon the situation to relieve the stress.
  • Mention you use the stress to prioritize your work and it helps make you more efficient.

It should go without saying, but when answering this question, avoid these responses:

  • “I don’t get stressed.” No one will ever believe you.
  • “I just deal with it.” Instead, give examples to support this claim.
  • Backtracking on the response. It makes it seem like you’re doubting yourself.

Interviews are typically stressful situations on their own. Interviewers can gauge how well you handle stress based on the way you present yourself. However, the purpose of asking the stress question is to see how self-aware you are. If you can adapt to the stress and answer the question calmly, honestly and confidently, you will be at an advantage for the rest of the process.