The Ultimate Guide to Asking Stress Management Interview Questions

Stress management is an important characteristic in the workplace. Probably, your clients want people who can do their jobs well, have the right values to fit in with the company’s culture, and know how to deal with stress.

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

Stress is an inevitable part of most jobs. However how employees manage and respond to stress can greatly influence their effectiveness and productivity. Asking stress management interview questions allows you to assess a candidate’s ability to perform under pressure and handle difficult situations at work.

In this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything you need to know about evaluating stress management skills during the interview process

Why Evaluate Stress Management Skills?

According to a survey 46% of employees state that stress from heavy workloads is their top source of stress. Additionally 83% of US workers suffer from work-related stress.

Prolonged stress can lead to burnout, absenteeism, and high turnover rates. It can also negatively impact productivity, decision-making, collaboration, and workplace safety.

On the other hand, employees with stellar stress management skills are able to:

  • Remain focused and level-headed in challenging situations
  • Meet deadlines and prevent delays even when under pressure
  • Prevent tense situations from escalating
  • Bounce back quickly from setbacks
  • Balance their workload and prevent burnout

That’s why assessing candidates’ stress management competencies during interviews provides useful insights into their potential job performance.

4 Types of Stress Management Interview Questions

1. Behavioral Questions

These questions ask about how candidates handled specific stressful situations in the past. For example:

  • Tell me about a high-pressure project you worked on. How did you meet the tight deadline?
  • Describe a time when you had to deliver bad news to a client or coworker. How did you handle it?
  • Give me an example of when your stress negatively impacted your work. What steps did you take afterward?

2. Situational Questions

These questions present hypothetical stressful scenarios and ask candidates to describe how they would respond. For example:

  • If you were assigned multiple high-priority tasks with overlapping deadlines, how would you handle it?
  • How would you deal with an angry or confrontational client/customer?
  • If the scope of a project changed significantly halfway through, what steps would you take?

3. Self-assessment Questions

These questions ask candidates to evaluate their own stress management skills. For example:

  • How would you rate your ability to manage stress and pressure at work?
  • In what areas are you strongest when it comes to handling workplace stressors?
  • In what areas could you improve regarding your stress management skills?

4. General Questions

These broadly assess a candidate’s overall attitude and techniques for managing stress. For example:

  • How do you typically deal with stress at work?
  • What proactive steps do you take to minimize workplace stress?
  • What do you find most challenging about dealing with stress?
  • How do you maintain your performance under pressure?

Follow-up Questions

After a candidate responds to your initial stress management question, ask relevant follow-up questions to gain more insights, such as:

  • What was the outcome in that situation?
  • What did you learn from that experience?
  • Would you handle it differently today? Why or why not?
  • How did you prioritize when juggling multiple assignments?
  • How did you ensure quality was maintained?

Red Flags to Watch Out For

While assessing candidates’ responses, watch out for these red flags:

  • Lack of accountability – Always blaming external factors or other people for stress rather than taking ownership.

  • Poor coping mechanisms – Resorting to unhealthy coping mechanisms like isolation, poor sleep habits, overeating, smoking, drinking, etc.

  • Inflexibility – An unwillingness to adapt to unpredictable situations or last-minute changes.

  • Disregard for quality – Sacrificing thoroughness, accuracy, and attention to detail when under stress.

  • Inability to say “no” – Taking on more than they can handle and struggling to manage priorities.

  • Hot temper – Reacting angrily or unprofessionally when under stress. Yelling, throwing tantrums, name-calling, etc.

  • Transference of stress – Passing their stress onto others by having unrealistic expectations, micromanaging, neglecting team morale, etc.

  • Downplaying stress – Acting like they never experience stress at work. Could signal poor self-awareness.

  • Perfectionism – Getting excessively stressed by minor imperfections or small mistakes.

Tips for Assessing Stress Management Skills

Here are some tips to keep in mind when evaluating candidates’ stress management competencies during interviews:

Ask follow-up questions – Don’t just accept generic answers. Probe with follow-up questions to unearth more details.

Use realistic scenarios – Give examples that are relevant to the role rather than unrealistic “nightmare” scenarios.

Watch body language – Notice nonverbal cues that could indicate discomfort or anxiety discussing stressors.

Consider soft skills – Assess related competencies like adaptability, problem-solving, communication skills, emotional intelligence.

Compare candidates – Ask all candidates the same questions to judge responses against each other.

Emphasize judgment – Look for sensible solutions and level-headed decision-making under stress.

Consider high-stress jobs – Weigh stress management skills heavily for inherently high-pressure roles.

Asking the right stress management interview questions and carefully evaluating candidates’ responses allows you to hire people who thrive under pressure. This ultimately translates into higher individual and team performance.

Sample Stress Management Interview Questions

Here are some sample stress management interview questions to assess candidates:

Behavioral Questions

  • Tell me about a time you had to juggle multiple high-priority assignments simultaneously. How did you manage your stress levels?
  • Describe a situation where you made a mistake because you were feeling overwhelmed or pressured. How did you address it?
  • Give me an example of a high-stress project you worked on. How did you ensure you still met quality standards?

Situational Questions

  • If your manager abruptly changed your job requirements without warning, how would you handle it?
  • How would you deal with a team member who becomes frustrated and combative when under stress?
  • If you had a personal emergency but were facing a tight work deadline, how would you respond?

Self-Assessment Questions

  • On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your ability to manage stress at work?
  • What workplace situations do you find most stressful to deal with?
  • In what areas do you feel you could improve regarding managing stress on the job?

General Questions

  • What specific techniques and strategies do you use to manage workplace stress?
  • How do you maintain your performance and productivity during extremely busy or hectic times?
  • What steps do you take if the stress starts affecting your ability to complete quality work?

Asking probing stress management interview questions is crucial to evaluating how candidates maintain performance under challenging circumstances.

Look for people who remain cool under pressure, take proactive stress prevention measures, and never compromise quality or professionalism when stressed. With the right questions and evaluation tactics, you can identify candidates with stellar stress management competencies who will thrive at your organization.

“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.

People who know that work can be stressful and have the skills and strategies to deal with it are what you want to hire. Although stress is inevitable, it shouldn’t cripple a worker’s ability to perform their job.

Asking at least one “How do you deal with stress?” question in an interview can help you figure out how well a candidate will do at work when things get tough.

“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. What are stress management interview questions? They find out how candidates deal with stress in a normal interview setting by asking about their 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 more questions than “how do you deal with stress?” that will get people to talk 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 candidates are being interviewed and asked how they deal with stress, there are a few things you should do.

During the interview, candidates should be calm. The fact that they’re nervous during the whole interview could mean that they don’t do well with stress.

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. You might not want to hire someone if they spend all of their time putting down a coworker or the company they work for. Everyone deals with stress, and you want to hire people who can handle things without blaming others.

You might want to find out more from a candidate who says they don’t get stressed out. 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. Search for:



What are the 4 A’s of stress management?

When your stress level exceeds your ability to cope, you need to restore the balance by reducing the stressors or increasing your ability to cope or both. Try using one of the four A’s: avoid, alter, accept or adapt.

What are the questions about managing stress?

25 good stress management interview questions. How do you define stress management, and why is it important in the workplace? Describe a situation when you felt overwhelmed with work or a challenging project and how you handled it. How do you maintain a healthy work-life balance to prevent burnout and excessive stress?

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