How Do You Handle Stress? Questions for Candidate Interviews

Stress management is an important characteristic in the workplace. Your clients likely want candidates who have the skills to effectively perform their jobs, the values to mesh with the company’s culture, and the abilities to manage their stress.

According to the American Institute of Stress, 46% of workers’ stress comes from their workload. Because so many workers deal with stressful jobs, you need to ask the right questions to find out how they manage stress. Use these “How do you handle stress” interview questions to learn more about each candidate’s stress management.

“How do you handle stress” interview questions

A whopping 80% of workers are stressed out in their jobs. Of that group, nearly half reported they need help managing stress.

You want to find candidates who recognize that work can be stressful and come equipped with the skills and strategies needed to handle that stress. Although stress is inevitable, it shouldn’t cripple a worker’s ability to perform their job.

Asking at least one “How do you handle stress” interview question can give you insight into a candidate’s performance during rough times at work.

“How do you handle stress” interview questions might be especially important in certain positions and industries. For example, managers and supervisors often face more stress than employees. And, industries like public relations and law enforcement ranked as some of the most stressful American jobs in 2018.

Don’t confuse “How do you handle stress” interview questions with stress interview questions. Stress interview questions put candidates into stressful situations. On the other hand, stress management interview questions find out how candidates handle stress in a regular interview setting by asking about the candidate’s personality and past experiences.

Your questions should prompt candidates to tell you about their past experiences. Asking “How do you handle stress?” might not garner the in-depth response you are looking for. Instead, ask additional “how do you handle stress” interview questions that will encourage candidates to tell you about their behavior. These are also known as behavioral interview questions.

Take a look at some questions to ask during a “how do you deal with stress” interview. You can ask these questions or use them as guidelines to create your own.

1. Describe a stressful situation and how you handled it.

2. Are you able to adapt to changes in the workplace? Can you tell me about a specific situation?

3. Can you describe a time when you were juggling multiple projects at once?

4. Have you ever missed a deadline? If so, what did you do?

5. How have you handled stress when you were behind on assignments? Would you take the same actions now?

6. Is stress ever a good thing? If so, how?

7. Tell me about a time when you needed to take on an additional workload for a coworker. What did you do?

8. What do you do when you get burnt out at work?

9. How do you deal with pressure or stressful situations? Does it ever impact your work-life balance?

10. Tell me about a time when your work was criticized by a supervisor. How did you react?

You might consider asking candidates the same questions. That way, you can more easily compare their answers.

Responses to look for

When you are interviewing candidates and asking them about how they handle stress, you should keep an eye out for a few things.

During the interview, candidates should be calm. If they’re stressing out throughout the entire interview, it might be a sign that they don’t handle stressful situations well.

You should look for candidates who provide specific situations. And, you can use candidate answers and apply them to the position. Maybe a candidate had a similar situation to something they could experience in your client’s company. Or, the way they handled a stressful situation would benefit them in the open job.

Also, you should look out for candidates who obsess on someone or something that stressed them out. If the candidate spends their time bad mouthing a colleague or blaming their company, you might want to pass. Everyone has stress—you are looking for the candidates who are able to roll with the punches without passing blame.

If a candidate tells you they don’t get stressed out, you might want to press them for more information. This could indicate that the candidate doesn’t get stressed out because they are disengaged from their work. Or, it could mean a candidate is not in tune with their stress and emotions.

Jot down notes on your interview scorecard and record answers in your recruiting software. That way, you can refer to them at a later time.

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