Is working under pressure an employability skill?
I am sure that one of the questions you have been asked during in one of your latest job interviews was about your ability to face difficult situations and handle the daily stress. Often the question goes like this: ‘’How do you deal with pressure or stressful situations?’’ or ‘’Have you ever missed a deadline? If so, what did you do?’’ and so on.
"But what does really the interviewer want to find out? What is the correct answer in order to get the job? Shall you admit that stress is a part of your daily life and there are times that the morale is so low that you totally freeze and you cannot think or do anything? Or is it better to reply that you are a 'stress management' expert and that you always find the way to overcome any difficulty and problems?"
Well, let's tackle the story from the very beginning.
The recruiter wants to know more about your ability to face stressful situations mainly because of 3 reasons:
The first has to do with you personally. Stress is inevitable in a workplace and everyone knows that. He/she doesn't expect you to be a superman/woman with no emotions or weaknesses. He/she wants to know that you have recognized the existence of stress and that you have found the strength to find ways to overcome rough times at work so as not to be ineffective. More than that, he/she may want to find out how passionate and dedicated you are, what motivates you and how consistent you are to rules and deadlines. After all, working under pressure is more than an employability skill.
Secondly, it has to do with the team spirit and performance at work. Your behavior, when you are a part of a team or even a manager/director that leads a team, plays a crucial role to the team's morale and general productivity.
And the last but not the least, it has to do with the mission of the company. "Does this applicant fit to the profile and values of the company? Can he/she be a valued representative member that will respond to the needs and expectations of company's mission and strategy?"
Please take these 3 points into consideration before replying and try to recall a time that you had been exposed to a stressful situation and how you handled it. The example may be from your working environment or from your social/family life. Stress in every aspect of our life is always the same for us, same thoughts, feelings and reactions.
“When was the last time that you were proud of yourself or felt ashamed of your behavior?
What worked well for you and what didn’t?
Was it an external factor or a specific type of a person that caused that stress?
Did it impact your work-life balance?
Who or what helped you to relax, to slow down and behave properly?
Would you take the same actions now?”
In your next interview be fully prepared for those questions and reply frankly to your interviewer with examples from real life. You are a human being with strengths and weaknesses, who is willing to learn and develop his/hers knowledge, skills and attitude.
Also feel free and be brave to kindly ask back the question to your interviewer:
"What is the company's policy in order to help employees to predict or overcome any stressful situations?
Is the working environment full of pressure, stress and unpredicted factors and changes?
Are the manager's directions and deadlines agreed and clear to all?"