Tell me about a time you had to handle pressure.

Added: 2 months ago
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Ajay Thakur
Ajay Thakur One month ago

We know that some jobs are high-stress and interviewers will test you to see if you can handle the heat. You’ll get partial credit for talking about your heroic efforts to get everything done, but you’ll get more points if you’ve enlisted allies. Sample examples are here.

Example-1

"I was working on my company's big quarterly project update when two team members left unexpectedly and we were short-handed with three weeks to go.

I convened an urgent strategy session where we identified all the projects they were involved in and mapped out our action plan. We shared the most important tasks within the team and got them all done in time.

We canceled two optional features that could wait a quarter, and we reached out to a former intern who was able to deliver 15 hours of remote work in the last weekend sprint before the deadline.

We were able to complete the project without a delay and delivered on all the essential deliverables by being creative, strategic, and very focused"

Why this answer worked well:

  • She described herself as a friendly leader who got to work addressing the challenge for the entire team.
  • She took us through a strategy where she focused on the most important elements and deprioritized the rest.
  • She was creative and resourceful by finding an unexpected ally to help her through this challenge.

Example-2

"During my time as an analyst for a major airline, I was pulled into a special project where we were asked to look at a potential merger scenario with another carrier. Due to the confidentiality of the project, I was unable to work with peers or use my normal channels for support and was required to meet a demanding work schedule in order to complete our evaluation in the allotted time.

While this project leveraged some of my existing skills, there was still a lot I needed to learn about our acquisition target to complete the work. I made my family aware that I’d need to temporarily shift my evening hours to work. This proactive communication prevented me from facing compounding pressure.

I also made sure to communicate daily with my VP. He knew the unique challenge I was facing and could provide guidance, but only if he knew where to help. So I set up daily check-ins with him to show him my progress and receive feedback in a 1:1 setting outside of our normal working group. This added communication helped me avoid any surprises, eased stress, and allowed me to successfully manage and complete an unfamiliar project"

 

Why this answer worked well:

  • The candidate demonstrated flexibility by being willing to deviate from a normal workflow.
  • The candidate demonstrated the ability to learn new skills and processes quickly.

Example-3

"I led a rapid, three-month-long company-wide initiative to help customers reduce their carbon footprint.

To accomplish this goal within an aggressive timeline, I led a team of five subject matter experts to design a new service offering targeting the manufacturing, mining, chemical, and electronics industries. We assessed their current carbon and environmental waste output, and identify areas and opportunities for reduction in a phased approach.

We conducted interviews and focus groups with customers, academics, and government officials who had a vested interest in sustainability. We then synthesized the findings from the interviews by identifying user-profiles and personas across each customer segment, as well as any gaps in key segment profiles and service offering competencies.

Finally, we kicked off work around third-party partnerships to assess skills and competencies that complement each other, taking cultural alignment and vision into account.

Once the service offering was designed, we conducted a pilot program and defined the SKUs, pricing structure, and legal contracts in collaboration with internal stakeholders.

It was a high-pressure project, due to the scale of the effort and aggressiveness of the timeline, but results were impressive — generating $9.5M in attach run rate annually"

 Why this answer worked well:

  • The example showed the candidate’s expertise and ability to lead complex initiatives.
  • The candidate’s contribution was directly tied to a significant increase in annual revenue.
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