Unless you work as a lighthouse keeper, massage therapist, or as a librarian, you will experience some pressure in your job. That’s how it works in the workplaces of 21st century. Every employee has deadlines to meet and bosses to please. What’s more, since competitiveness rules over cooperation, working in a team can also be extremely stressful.

Bearing this in mind, interview questions about your ability to work under pressure, or to handle pressure, make sense in almost every job interview. Let’s have a look at 7 sample answers to this particular interview question. Once you read the answers, do not forget to read also the notes below them, as they will help you to choose the best possible answer for your particular interview.


7 sample answers to “Can you work under pressure?” interview question

  1. Definitely I can work under pressure, and I do not do badly either. In my last job in sales we had to meet targets each month, and they were ambitious to say the least. It often happened that in the middle of the month you were 70% or 80% behind with sales, just because you had a bad streak, or the conditions on the marker were not favorable for making sales. But we had to push on, and the managers put on a lot of pressure on us. Speaking from experience, I always managed to handle the pressure. I cannot say that I enjoyed it–nobody enjoys that, but I managed.
  2. This is my first job application and I have no experience with working under pressure. Certainly we had to meet some deadlines at school, and I sometimes felt stress, but I think that it can’t be compared to the situation in the workplace. Having said that, I am aware of the competitiveness of today’s marketplace. Average results won’t do it for any company, and managers will certainly have high expectations on us. I believe to have the capacity to handle it, but only time will tell how well I fare in stressful situations.
  3. I am not sure if I can, but I will try. The atmosphere was pretty laid back and relaxed in my last job, and we had a great team. People encouraged each other, everyone tried their best, and managers did not expect from us certain numbers or anything. Having said that, I cannot compare the effectiveness of this approach with an effectiveness of a team that follows strict rules and tries to achieve some tangible goals each month, set by the managers. I just do not have experience with the second situation. But I am definitely eager to test it, and will try my best to cope with the pressure that comes with such an approach to work and management–if you apply it in your company.
  4. The short answer is yes. The long one is that I try to not let the pressure get the better of me. Instead of focusing on goals, I focus on my effort. I try my best in job, and do not mind working overtime, or going above and beyond for the customer. I prefer not to think much about the sales volume, or this or that goal I have to achieve until the end of month. In my opinion it does not help with anything. We should try our best. Sometimes it will work, and sometimes it won’t. Effort is more important than the final result, at least that’s my philosophy and attitude to work.
  5. Speaking honestly, pressure can leave its toll on me. I take my job seriously, and have not learned yet to separate my work and my personal life. Sometimes when things aren’t going well in work, I tend to think about the problems back home. I may even work in my dreams… Sooner or later, it will leave marks on your health and it will also impact your relationships. I hope to learn to cope better with the pressure. The new job I try to get with you is definitely an opportunity to improve my ability of dealing with pressure.
  6. I do not cope well with the pressure. And that’s exactly the reason why I am sitting here in front of you. My last company was just terrible in this regard. Managers had unrealistic expectations on the employees, and you could feel the tension in the air every day. It was extremely demanding physically and mentally. I decided to leave, and apply for a job with lower stress levels. Now, I understand that I may face some pressure working as an office assistant in your company. But honestly it’s nothing compared to the pressure I experienced in my last job.
  7. To me pressure is just an illusion, exactly like the self-imposed limitations we have. I try to live in the present moment instead of worrying about the future. I do not know what anxiety is. When you always give 100% attention to the present moment, to the task at hand, you cannot feel pressure. Pressure starts when you let your mind wander, thinking about expectations of the others, all possible outcomes and failures. And that’s not my attitude to life. Hence I cannot say whether I can work under pressure, because I do not know the emotion.


Try to combine humility and confidence in your answer

You should be confident that you’ll handle the workload in the new job, and the pressure that comes with it. At the same time, however, it is good to show some humility, to admit a weakness.

There’s nothing wrong with saying that you struggled to handle the pressure in your last job, or even that you experienced some negative effects on your mind and body. Humility and honesty are highly sought qualities on the job market. Check sample answers no. 3 and no. 5 as a good example of expressing this attitude.

Applying for your first job ever, you can refer to a situation from school or from your personal life

Pressure isn’t confined to workplace and business. We experience all kinds of tricky situations at school, and also in our personal life. Other people expect a lot from us, and sometimes we set the bar too high for ourselves, creating unnecessary pressure.

A tough exam you had to prepare for, an assignment with a tight deadline, or a date with a girl you dreamed about so long, and now finally she accepted your invitation for a drink–and maybe you hope for more… But you do not know what to wear, where to take her, what to say…

Such situations are stressful for almost everyone. You can narrate them in an interview, demonstrating how you dealt with the pressure, or at least tried your best.

* Special Tip: This isn’t the only difficult question you will face while interviewing for a great job. You will face questions about prioritization, conflicts, dealing with ambiguity, and other tricky scenarios that happen in the workplace. If you want to make sure that you stand out with your answers and outclass your competitors, have a look at our Interview Success Package. Up to 10 premium answers to 31 tricky scenario based questions (+ more) will help you streamline your interview preparation, and eventually outclass your competitors and get the job. Thank you for checking it out!


Do not be afraid to be philosophical, and stand out with your answer

If you read all 7 sample answers from my selection, you certainly noticed no. 7. Here the job applicants turns the entire concept of pressure upside-down. He destroys it.

Instead of thinking whether they can or cannot work under pressure, they developed an attitude to live and work that simply eliminates pressure from their life. And they are right.

Why worry about the future, or about the expectations of the others? Such thoughts won’t help us in any way. Living in the present, focusing at a task at hand, we will always achieve the best possible results. Now I know it is not easy to live with such a mindset, but maybe you can at least try it.

What’s more, you can be sure that you’ll stand out with such an interview answer. Hiring managers will remember it for a long time, and it may even be one of the reasons why they decide to hire you, instead of the second best candidate

Read to answer this one? Check also 7 sample answers to other tricky interview questions:

Matthew Chulaw
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