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Job Interviews: How to Answer the How Do You Handle Stressful Situations? Question

When answering the "How do you handle stressful situations?" question during an interview, the best strategy is to give some examples of stressful situations you've dealt successfully with in the past.

Everyone faces some form of stress on the job now and then. They probably won't believe you if you say, "I've never been in a stressful situation."

So take some time before the interview to think back over your career and come up with some stressful situations you can talk about. Make sure they are situations that had a happy ending, thanks to your positive action.

(If this is for your first job, think of a stressful situation during school or other aspects of your life.)

Tell how you used time management, problem-solving techniques or decision-making skills to reduce stress. Mention stress-reducing activities such as exercise, stretching and taking breaks.

Don't be afraid to admit that you would ask for assistance if you began to feel overwhelmed.

If it's true, say you actually work better under pressure.

Some jobs are much more stressful than others. This question is often given as a hint of things to come. In other words, they won't be asking about stress if it's a totally restful and relaxing job!

So give serious thought not only to the question itself, but why they are asking it.

If you absolutely do not want a stressful job, have an answer ready that makes this clear. It may eliminate you from the running, but you probably wouldn't want the position anyway if it's going to stress you out.

Sample Answer:

"I'm not easily stressed. One of my previous bosses even referred to me as 'unflappable.' I know the importance of being flexible and am good at adapting to changing situations and shifting priorities. But if I do start to feel stressed, I'll take a break to stretch or get a little exercise and clear my head. If the stress is affecting my work, and due to something beyond my control, I'll discuss it with my boss."

Then mention a specific example:

"I remember one situation when I was working at ABC Company where an important client demanded that we finish his project two weeks ahead! of sche dule. At first that seemed like an impossible task. But instead of letting the stress overwhelm me, I took action. I looked at our other projects and found a way to shift some schedules around. It wasn't easy, but we did manage to meet the customer's demand, and he was very happy with the result."

Bonnie Lowe is author of the popular Job Interview Success System and free information-packed ezine, "Career-Life Times." Find those and other powerful career-building resources and tips at her website:

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