Interview Question: Do you work well under pressure?

 “Do you work well under pressure?”

I belong to the camp that believes that a little bit of pressure is good for us all. I find a small amount of pressure motivating and find that it usually improves performance. Of course to use ‘pressure’ to your advantage you need to avoid getting stress and channel the pressure into a productive energy. I believe I work well under pressure. 

However, my colleagues are divided and some believe that ‘working well under pressure’ is not a good thing although most agree that a bit of pressure will give them a bit of a kick-start (and help overcome procrastination).

Whatever side you support you can’t ignore the fact that at job interviews this is a popular question: “Do you work well under pressure?” particularly in high stress or high pressured jobs.

So how do you tackle this question at interview?

Well let’s identify what the interviewer is really asking? What they are really asking will depend on the job you are interviewing for but most employers will want to know:

  • that you can work effectively is fast-paced or challenging environment
  • that you can meet deadlines (and adjust to meet those deadlines)
  • that you are or can be competitive
  • that you are prepared to go the extra mile.

In answering this question you want to be able to display a wide range of skills such as: problem solving, decision-making, organisational skills, time management and your ability to work under pressure.

So how do you work well under pressure?

  1. Working well under pressure requires organisation and planning. You need to be able to analysis deadlines and accurately estimate and allocate time. Conflicting deadlines, prioritisation and adjustments to deadlines are keys considerations that should be part of your analysis.
  2. Things that you have not prepared for will happen. Interruptions will happen. Plan accordingly. Learn to manage them.
  3. This leads into understanding the importance of keeping calm. Whatever you do – do not panic – this helps no-one. Take a break, spend 10 minutes working on something else or enlist extra help. 

When preparing for this interview question show your ability to work calmly and efficiently whilst achieving results.