Tell me about a time when you had to work under pressure
- 1 Tell me about a time when you had to work under pressure
- 2 Other interview questions that are similar
- 3 What the interviewer is looking for by asking this question
- 4 How Best To Structure Your Answer To This Question
- 5 What You Should NOT Do When Answering Questions
- 6 Tell me about a time when you had to work under pressure – Example answers
- 7 Other Interview Question and Answers
Other interview questions that are similar
- Describe an instance where you had to complete a challenging task within a tight deadline.
- Can you share an experience where you managed a high-stress situation in a professional setting?
- Have you ever had to make an important decision quickly in a work environment? How did you handle it?
- What’s an example of a time when you had to juggle multiple responsibilities simultaneously at work?
- Can you recall a situation where you had to adapt to a sudden change or crisis at work?
- Have you ever been in a scenario where you had to maintain performance standards despite facing unexpected challenges?
- Describe a professional situation where you had to remain calm and efficient in a highly demanding environment.
What the interviewer is looking for by asking this question
There are probably an infinite number of questions that the interviewer could ask you on the day. Some questions are incredibly common appearing in almost every interview you will have, while other questions you might hear once and never again regardless of how many jobs you apply for.
Fundamentally though all interview questions are really trying to find out one of 3 things:
1 – Can you do the job? (Do you have the skills/experience needed?)
2 – Will you do the job? (Do you have the drive/motivation to get the job done?)
3 – Will you fit in? (Does your personality match the workplace culture? Are you likeable?)
That’s it. Those are the 3 things that the interviewer is trying to ascertain. Every question that is asked of you will fundamentally be trying to resolve one (or more) of these 3 things.
The question “Tell me about a time when you had to work under pressure” assesses if you have the necessary skills (can you do the job?), your drive and ability to handle stress (will you do the job?), and how you interact with others in stressful situations (will you fit in?). It’s a concise way for the interviewer to understand your competence, motivation, and compatibility with the team.
How Best To Structure Your Answer To This Question
Unless the question you are asked is a straight ‘up or down / yes or no’ style question then you are going to need to learn to describe, expand and elaborate on your answers. The best way of doing this is to follow the B-STAR technique for answering interview questions.
Answers using this method follow the below structure:
B – Belief – What are your thoughts and feelings with regard to the subject matter? Reflecting on your beliefs about working under pressure can reveal how you perceive and handle stressful situations, which is key to understanding your approach to challenges.
S – Situation – What was going on? Briefly explain the scenario that was taking place. In the context of the interview question, concisely describing the high-pressure situation helps the interviewer grasp the context and severity of the challenge you faced.
T – Task – What was your role in the action? Clarifying your role in a high-pressure situation demonstrates your ability to take charge or contribute effectively under stress, which is crucial for the interviewer to know.
A – Activity (or action) – What did you do? Detail the steps you took and why you took them. Describing your actions under pressure showcases your problem-solving and decision-making skills, which are critical attributes the interviewer is looking to understand.
R – Result – How did everything end up? Using specific results, especially quantifiable ones, in the context of working under pressure, provides the interviewer with a clear picture of your effectiveness in challenging situations.
Remember though that the B-STAR technique is descriptive not prescriptive. You do not need to follow this flow strictly, go with what is best for your answers and that will allow you to put your point across and show your experience the best.
What You Should NOT Do When Answering Questions
Do not avoid the question.
Do not downplay the situation.
Do not overhype the situation.
Do not say you have never worked under pressure.
Do not have a passive role in the situation.
Do not give a one-sentence answer.
Do not focus solely on the problem without discussing your actions and the outcome.
Tell me about a time when you had to work under pressure – Example answers
Example Answer 1
“My belief has always been that pressure can bring out the best in me, pushing me to be more creative and efficient. In my previous role as a project manager, we faced a situation where a key client moved up a project deadline by two weeks. This was a high-stakes project, and the sudden change put our team under significant pressure.
My task was to ensure that we met the new deadline without compromising on the quality of our deliverables. I quickly gathered the team for a brainstorming session to reevaluate our project plan.
I took the initiative to reassign tasks, focusing on efficiency and individual strengths. We also increased our communication frequency to stay on track and address issues promptly. I personally took on the additional responsibility of liaising with the client, providing regular updates and managing their expectations.
The result was that we delivered the project three days ahead of the revised deadline. The client was highly satisfied with our work, noting the quality and timeliness. This experience reinforced my belief that with the right approach, working under pressure can lead to outstanding outcomes.”
Example Answer 2
More Sample Answers…
The examples provided above can serve as a foundation for creating your unique answers. For additional inspiration, our new guide includes five sample responses to this question and over 250 answers to all of the most common interview queries.
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