UPDATED ON OCTOBER 26, 2017: Original article published on April 14, 2016.
Hiring managers love to see how you transform a negative aspect of the workplace into a positive thing. While stress is a part of every career and in every industry, it can also be a great motivator.
When asked in an interview how you handle stress in the workplace, this is a great opportunity for you not to "turn a weakness into a strength" but to reveal how great your attitude can be.
Share Your Strengths
One way to approach this interview question about stress is to highlight your strengths in task management, time management, and project management. Reveal your secrets for meeting deadlines by putting focus on your organization, teamwork, and general management skills.
Consider removing "multi-tasking" from your vocabulary. Even if asked, "Are you good at multi-tasking?" steer away from this term and use answers similar to, "I have been told I'm very good at managing my time and completing my tasks and projects before deadline." Even if an employer uses this term, it implies that you have a problem focusing on a task at hand and may stretch yourself too thin to be effective.
Give Examples From Previous Jobs
If you can, think of a few examples from previous employment where you conquered a difficult task or multiple tasks before deadlines or rather quickly. Avoid using examples that show or imply that YOU procrastinated.
Focus on your strategy for meeting the challenge. Try to avoid talking much about how you felt under pressure or how much it bothers you to be stressed. Keep in mind, stress will be a part of every job in every field.
discuss a practical solution
You can have a practical solution to handling stress. Some great ways to alleviate stress are to take a coffee or tea break, take a short walk around the block, or take a short "distraction" break at your desk. Having a fidget spinner, stress ball, or desktop games (like this desktop bowling game on Amazon) available for a quick distraction break can help with alleviating stress.
Another practical solution you can discuss is personalizing your space. By adding personal touches to your work space, you can create a space that calms you and keeps you focused. Himalayan salt lamps are proven to help alleviate stress. You can find a desk-sized, USB-powered Himalayan salt lamp on Amazon for less than $20.
Make Stress Your Motivation
When an interviewer asks you to answer how you deal with stress in the workplace, carefully describe stress at a motivator. Use this approach with caution because it's often perceived as a way to "turn a weakness into a strength" and can be a common answer.
The answer, "Stress motivates me," is so overused, but it can be effective. Identify stress as a motivator and then reinforce the statement by describing your work ethic. The focus is then shifted to your positive attitude and ambition to be a great employee.
Here's an example: "I use stress as motivation because it's often unavoidable in the workplace. I would rather have a positive attitude and be motivated to finish a task well and on time than focus on the negative environment stress can bring."
Identify how you best handle stress and practice your answer to this common interview question.