Working under pressure

We all feel like we're under pressure at times, but it's important to be able to handle it and not get too stressed out. No matter who you are, it's impossible to be perfect all the time.

Think about a time when you felt under pressure. How did you respond? Were you calm or panicky? Did it bring out the best in you or did it stop you in your tracks?

Our 6 top tips to handling pressure

Here's a short guide to help you get better at handling pressure.

Let's look at what can be a commonly stressful situation – interviews!

Chances are you'll be asked how you handle pressure at your interview. The ability to work under pressure is an important quality and a necessary one. Things happen all the time at work that you weren't expecting, and a lot of the time it's things you can't control. What employers are interested in is how you deal with them, and how you learn from them.

How to handle that tricky interview question

Stay calm

This is a stressful question! By staying calm when you answer it you are already showing you can handle the pressure

Use the STAR method

The best way to help you stay calm is to have an example prepared. STAR is:

Situation

Briefly describe the situation, e.g. my project group were due to give a presentation at school, but one person had to drop out due to illness

Task

Explain what needed to happen, e.g. we had to find a way of delivering the presentation on time with the remaining team

Action

Explain what you did, e.g. I went over my friends notes and managed to incorporate the key elements of their part into my section of the presentation

Result

What was the outcome, e.g. the presentation went ahead on time and we received really positive feedback on our ability to re-write it at short notice

Be honest but stay positive

It's ok to say you find pressure stressful but saying you don't get stressed may create the wrong impression

Don't focus too much on the stress

What caused the stress isn't important, it's how you handled it that counts

Remember the ability to work under pressure is a great skill, and one that will be called upon from time-to-time so it’s worth trying to get used to it, even though it may not always be a comfortable feeling. It’s important to remember though, that your physical and mental health should always come first. So, if it’s getting too much, take a breath, find some space, go for a walk and make sure you ask for help when you need it.

Our top tips for handling pressure

  • Find time to think: Quick decisions aren't always the best decisions.
  • Be organised: You'll feel less pressure if you're organised and prepared.
  • Think positively: Negative thinking can knock your confidence.
  • Ask for help if you need it: Don't be afraid to ask for some help to get things
  • Write things down: Putting things down on paper gets them out of your head
  • Stay focused: Don't let stress take over. You've got this!