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The Interview Decoder - "How do you handle stress and prevent burnout?"

Job interviews are intimidating. More often than not, you spend hours preparing yourself, ensuring you have all the answers to any question they could possibly ask - then, they ask you something you somehow don’t have the answer to.

In this series, you’ll get insight into the true meaning behind some of the toughest interview questions out there, as well as a few different options for how you can best answer them.

Although this question is a popular topic in today’s world, it’s one you don’t want to spend a ton of time answering. When asked a question about a negative subject (such as the delicate subject of burnout), it’s best to answer quickly and efficiently and move on to a brighter topic of conversation.

Your goal here is to be succinct but confident in your answer. This is a question where a strong stock answer will go a long way, so make sure you have your answer memorized and ready to flow smoothly.

If you’re leading a team, make sure that you’re accounting for both your mental health and your team’s mental health. You need to take accountability for your own mental health while ensuring you create an environment that also lets your team function at their best.

These are the main points you’ll want to hit:

  • You constantly check in with yourself to make sure that your stress levels are manageable.

    • You don’t have to verbalize it, but you should have a personal indicator of when your stress levels are getting just a little too high for comfort.

  • If you find you’re more stressed than usual, you set aside extra time for yourself outside of work.

    • Feel free to mention getting more sleep, exercise, spending time with loved ones, etc.

  • You encourage open dialogue between your team members about mental health and stress.

    • If you have any type of process, such as weekly check-ins, you can mention this, but only briefly in passing.

  • You give your staff time off as needed while still ensuring results.

If you’re not leading a team, you’ll only need to take accountability for your own mental health, but you want to do it well:

  • Emphasize that you maintain a steady work-life balance at all times.

  • You balance the time-sensitive, stressful nature of your work with an emphasis on wellness.

    • This can be physical, emotional, spiritual, mental - ‘wellness’ is broad.

  • Mention how you keep yourself healthy and cared for: spending time with loved ones, eating well, getting enough sleep, exercising, taking time for hobbies you enjoy, etc.

    • A list is fine - no need to go into detail unless it’s requested.

  • A preventative approach is key.

    • Emphasize that this is the perspective you hold.

A staggering 42% of women and 35% of men say that “they feel burned out often or almost always in 2021” according to TIME magazine. In the midst of what experts are calling “The Great Resignation,” burnout and unsavory working conditions are major reasons that many professionals are choosing to leave their jobs.

This has encouraged a productive conversation between employees, colleagues, and employers about the importance of mental health as a component of professional life. It’s all but guaranteed your interviewer has employee satisfaction on their mind - they may even be anxious about having to bring up the topic in the first place. You want to give the impression that you are someone who handles mental health with a collaborative approach.

While you create a lifestyle that allows you to succeed - whether that’s through adequate rest, time set aside for family or for hobbies, exercise, or anything else - you also expect that your employer will create a work environment that will allow you to succeed and stay healthy and happy while you do it.

If you can answer this question correctly and quickly, it should be smooth sailing the rest of the way through. As always, remember -

  • Have a great Attitude

  • Be Charismatic

  • Bring Enthusiasm to each and every interview

Good luck, get out there, and ACE your interview.

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