Stress interview: what to expect and how to manage it

In many job interviews, recruiters try to make candidates comfortable. The conversation starts with a few words to break the ice and calm smiles.

On the contrary, the goal of a stress interview is to assess how you react to the most unpleasant circumstances, and if you can juggle well to resolve a complicated situation.

A stress interview can be of different types: from a slightly disconcerting one to an aggressive job interview.

Keep in mind that the recruiter doesn’t interview this because they are happy that you are uncomfortable and tense. What the recruiter wants to observe is your ability to perform under pressure.

In this way, you will get an idea of ​​how you will behave in the most difficult and challenging situations in the workplace.

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Why is the stress interview used?

The rationale behind a stress interview is that the way you behave during a particularly stressful interview will be how you deal with similar complicated situations at work.

The recruiter aims to create, for the candidate, an emotionally chaotic context, where he/she is under pressure; the recruiter observes if the candidate collapses, remains calm, or even manages to give the best of himself.

Stress interviews are controversial because they establish an emotionally charged interaction between the candidate and the recruiter, and consequently, the company. Very often, some candidates decide not to accept the job offer precisely because of the stressful job interview they had to undergo.

This is normal, job interviews are not one-sided. The recruiter tries to get an idea about you and the employee you might be, but you too get an impression of what awaits you in the company.

And it’s possible that you may not feel totally positive and comfortable after taking a stress interview, although, as we said, you may instead be a candidate who is best energized when under pressure.

A stress interview is more common in some industries. For example, those who work in sales or for some airline must necessarily be used to dealing with difficult and frustrated people.

In this case, the stress interview is used to evaluate your ability to cope with angry potential customers. and rude.

What to expect during a stress interview

How will the recruiter behave? What possible challenges and traps will it face you?

The recruiter may repeatedly ask you uncomfortable and inappropriate questions, may be subjected to tests, may respond badly, or talk to you aggressively. Additionally, your interview with the recruiter may turn into a series of interviews with different people who take turns asking you questions consecutively.

It is not uncommon that during a stress interview, your interlocutor decides to make you wait for a long time, again to test your nerves.

Possible scary questions:

  1. Why were you fired from your last job?
  2. Was your previous job too difficult for you?

These two aggressive questions aim to put you in the spotlight and force you to answer directly. They can also be offensive.

Possible aggressive behavior:

A possible scenario you might find yourself in is where you enter the office to take the interview and find the recruiter sitting with his feet on the desk, reading the newspaper, or paying attention to everything but you. His attitude challenges you to see how you behave to get his attention.

Another example of an aggressive attitude could be a negative comment on your responses or belittling your achievements at work, all to make you feel humiliated and uncomfortable.

Possible unexpected questions:

During a stress interview, the interviewer may ask the same question repeatedly, making you believe that he has forgotten your answer or that he did not fully understand it the first time he asked you.

This trick is used to make you impatient, to make you repeat the same thing over and over and thus frustrate you.

Possible trick questions/riddles:

  1. How many mice are there in Rome?
  2. How much garbage do they consume?

For this type of question, you must know that the recruiter does not expect you to know the correct answer. He is more interested in knowing what your reasoning is to arrive at your solution.

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How to manage a stress interview

The key to managing a stress interview best is to try to remain calm and show little emotion, basically respond by remaining neutral. Of course, for most of us, when we’re provoked or someone disrespects us, keeping our nerve is easier said than done.

However, you can practice some following strategies:

Ask for clarification on the question

Do not hesitate and do not feel embarrassed to ask for clarification for a question that is asked of you. The recruiter expects you to clarify your doubts before answering. Besides the fact that asking further questions allows you to buy some time to better formulate your answer.

Ask for details

If the interviewer asks you to think about a situation or scenario, make sure you have all the details before answering, otherwise, you will not be able to provide a complete and correct answer. Asking shows the recruiter that you are not afraid and that you have the situation in hand.

Speak confidently about your solutions/conclusions

Don’t focus on answering what you think the recruiter wants, give the answer that is most correct for you. The recruiter wants to see a thinking and proactive candidate.

Tell concrete episodes

To make your answer convincing and show the recruiter your personality and uniqueness, talk about episodes you experienced in the workplace, how you behaved, how you would act in a particular situation, explaining why.

Don’t be intimidated or afraid

The stress interview approach is designed to put you and the recruiter in a particular situation. You must understand that the recruiter will probably be carefree and careless during the interview and that’s what you should try to be too.

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