Many jobs are inherently stressful; however, employees in every position feel the heat sometimes. When interviewing candidates, find out how the person handles pressure, because your team needs someone they can count on.

First and foremost, be honest with the person about aspects of the job that could be considered taxing — i.e., long hours, travel, demanding clients — because they need to know exactly what they’re getting into. It’s much better to have a candidate drop out during the interview phase than after they’ve been on the job for a few weeks or months.

After highlighting the demands of the job, dig deeper into the person’s ability to manage stress by asking behavioral interview questions. Past performance is a key indicator of future success, so use these responses to decide if they have what it takes.

  1. Describe the most stressful situation you’ve ever been in at work.

The candidate’s interpretation of demanding circumstances can be telling. Find out how they dealt with the situation and what — if anything — they would do differently next time.

  1. What techniques do you use to cope with stress?

Healthy coping mechanisms are the key to managing stress. Take it as a good sign if the candidate has a positive outlet to help them stay calm — i.e., exercise, family time, meditation. However, anyone who claims not to let stress get to them or who uses a self-destructive method — i.e., drinking — probably isn’t the best choice.

  1. How do you keep your workload from becoming unmanageable?

When the going gets rough, the best employees know how to maintain order. This question will clue you into the candidate’s ability to prioritize, delegate and speak up when they have too much on their plate.

  1. Share a time when you worked well under pressure.

Simply asking a candidate if they work well in stressful situations won’t get you very far. Instead, learn the details of a time they persevered under less-than-ideal conditions. Their response will offer a glimpse at their productivity level under pressure.

  1. How do you keep stress in your personal life from impacting your job?

Everyone has a life outside the office, but some people bring their personal woes into work. Exclude anyone who says the two are bound to overlap, and focus on those willing to put their private life on pause during the workday.

Responses that are vague or generic are useless, so keep pressing the candidate until you’re satisfied. If you have any doubt about the person’s ability to manage stress, move on to the next candidate, because this isn’t something you want to take a gamble on.

Finding talented engineering and automotive professionals who can take the heat isn’t always easy, but JC Malone knows just where to look. For more than 40 years, we’ve been filling staff-level to vice president positions for companies just like yours, so you’re in good hands. Start your search today!

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