Stress interview: All you should know

Feb. 25, 2021

Employers use stress interviews to discern how potential employees will deal with workplace conflict, abusive customers, and overload. These interviews are typically performed by trained experts who use various techniques to assess your personality, as a prospective employee.

Stress interview: All you should know

Establishing an emotionally chaotic atmosphere puts applicants under psychological stress and reflects whether they’ll crack, remain calm, or even thrive under pressure. During a stress interview, an interviewer intentionally provokes you and the way you respond gives them an insight into how you’ll deal with similar situations at work.

Stress interviews can be controversial because they create a sensitive and emotionally charged relationship between the applicant and the hiring manager and, hence, the business. Sometimes, even the most successful applicants, on account of the nature of the interview alone, will turn down an offer.

At Mentorcruise, a mentorship platform, our mentors have seen many people through successful stress interview sessions by preparing them for all of the standard questions you’d probably get during a formal interview and teaching ways to maintain calm and reduce reactions.

This article will share some tips you may employ to ace stress interviews. You’ll learn;

  • What is a stress interview?
  • Why recruiters use stress interviews.
  • Types of stress interviews.
  • What to expect during a stress interview.
  • Samples stress interview questions and answers.
  • How to prepare for a successful stress interview.

What is a stress interview?

While some interviewers make an effort to put candidates at ease, others create a stressful situation to sense how they handle themselves in unpleasant circumstances in what is known as a stress interview.

A stress interview is a tactic used to put candidates under intense pressure. They are intended to test your ability to think on your feet, respond appropriately in challenging conditions, and remain calm in a pressurized atmosphere.

Why employers use stress interviews

Companies in fast-paced, pressurized industries like investment banking or top-level consumer services such as air travel or front-line public sectors typically use the stress interview methodology.

If the position in question is high authority and under a lot of obligations, you’ll definitely be put through a stress interview. The logic is that the way you react under stress represents how you would treat similar situations on the job. Managers can use these interviews to guarantee that applicants have the right mindset and the mental capacity to cope with these taxing environments.

Although competency-based interviews allow you to show your talents, competence, and experience, stress interviews are meant to bring you beyond the interview room and into the real world, where there might be a daily occurrence of trying or confrontational circumstances.

Types of stress interview

Stress interviews come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from moderately disconcerting to outrageously aggressive. And an employer may use any or all of the following techniques.

Dismissive behavior.

Here, the interviewer may appear uninterested in you and what you have to say. They could use nonverbal cues and signals to suggest that they have better things to do, like constantly watching the clock or sorting papers on their desk.

They equally act bored or distracted – glancing around the room and deliberating, avoiding eye contact.

Random questions.

Random questions are usually adopted to appraise how candidates think on their feet. Questions such as “What kind of biscuit would you be and why? How would you change the design of the clock? “What are you going to do with a million pounds?” Such questions are meant to test your problem-solving skills and at the same time give away a little of your personality.

Intimidating or rude behavior.

In this case, your interviewer may act in an undesirable or hostile manner. Tactics include;

  • Making you wait a long time.
  • Talking abruptly.
  • Making phone calls in the middle of the interview.

They may ask you challenging questions in a hurtful tone, interrupt you, or request that you keep repeating yourself. In extreme stress interviews, you may be set up in front of several interviewers who, in turn, scare you to see if you’re going to break.’

Aggressive questioning.

Typical stress interview questions are intended to stimulate an emotional reaction and unnerve the interviewee.

You may have to answer questions like ‘What do you think of the technique of my interview? Why were you sacked from your previous role? Or Why do you have long periods of unemployment on your CV?

From every indication, these are not standard interview questions, and they are meant to be tough to answer.

Difficult hypotheticals.

An uncomfortable hypothetical scenario can be posed to you and asked to describe how you will deal with it. Often, this is employed to assess;

  • How you would deal with conflict in the workplace, for example, “What would you do if you discovered that your co-worker is cheating on their expenses?”. Or
  • How you would handle confrontational circumstances, for instance, “An aggressive client has physically threatened you and your teammates. How do you react?”.

What to expect during stress interviews.

Stress interview tactics differ, but you may encounter a whole slew of uncomfortable and even intimidating questions. For instance, you might be asked:

  • Why have you been fired?
  • What do you think about how this interview is going?
  • Why did you apply for this role because you’re not experienced enough?
  • Do you think I’m an interesting interviewer?

Then you might get battered with some brain teaser questions - designed to stump you or, hopefully, showcase your problem-solving abilities.Questions like; How many skittles can fit in room space? How would you sell this book to someone?

Also, the interviewer can finally behave outright rudely. You enter the room, and he’s arched behind the computer monitor, and he doesn’t even acknowledge you. Or perhaps he’ll tell you that he doesn’t like your dressing. Worse still, s/he might outrightly tell you that you’re not the right match, except you persuade him otherwise.

Whatever the case, proper preparation always guarantees better performance. Although we didn’t develop a unique stress interview definition, concept or what to expect that covers every scenario, we put together the following stress interview questions and answers to give you some insight on how you can build your very own responses. The answers give you a more or less general “attitude” you should hold as you answer questions or respond to rude or insulting remarks.

Samples of stress interview questions and how to answer.

Sample question 1: It seems that if you were excellent in your current role, you could have been promoted. Why weren’t you?

Answer: There is a pretty low turnover in the company. No positions were ever available in my uni for a promotion. This is part of the reason why I am searching for a change now.

Sample question 2: It doesn’t look like you’ve achieved a lot in your past roles.

Answer: I have actually achieved a great deal.

_ _

Here, you want to quote the accomplishments and achievements you listed in your resume as well as any other(s) you chose to bring up during an interview. Don’t lie or overstate; there’s no need for that. Stick to your real achievements and describe them with confidence.

It is worthy to note that the interviewer does not believe what he/she is saying. The point is to measure your verbal and non-verbal reactions. If you remain calm, confident, and smile while answering this, you will have “won” this point.

Read our STAR interviewing method to learn effective ways to answer this question.

Sample question 3. Why did you decide to go to that university? It isn’t that great.

Answer: This college offered a unique program in my field. I gained a great deal of knowledge and was very well equipped for my career. Also, the student population was extremely diverse, enabling me to widen my view of the world. All in all, my four years have permitted both personal and professional growth. I am happy to have chosen the school that did that.

Note that you’ve defended a critical decision in your life, and you have provided strong reasons for that decision – that’s what they desire to see. Take heeds never to “trash” the school you went to.

Sample question four: What makes you believe you can survive here?

Sample Answer four: Well, I have researched your company as well as the position you have open. I understand you hold a fast-paced and sometimes stressful environment. I work quite well in such an environment, and I look forward to the challenges that push me ahead. I respond to stress healthily, and I don’t see any reason why that might change.

Your responses may not be exactly the same, but the crucial thing is this:

  • Don’t let them get to you.
  • Be honest and straight.
  • Tell the truth.
  • Don’t back down.

Details of your explanations are not as significant as the “how” you put it. Most often, when we are provoked or disrespected, maintaining a level head is easier said than done. Below are some basic tips to help you prepare for stress interview techniques.

Tips to Prepare for Stress Interview Techniques

The key to getting through the stress interview process is to remain unemotional and calm throughout the interview. To ace such interviews;

  • Prepare all you have to bring with you beforehand, including all the papers.
  • Ask for advice from those who have been through such interviews. You may even think. “Should I ask an expert to write or read through my resume just to make sure it will be outstanding ?” We think that you should accept every help that is possible or available.
  • Hydrate well before the interview. Drink plenty of water, and just before the interview, make sure to drink water. Stress can create a “dry mouth” and will affect your tone of voice.
  • Envision the most unfavorable interview situation possible. Place yourself in that position and see yourself smiling and being confident in extolling your strengths.
  • Take a deep breath before you go into the interview, as this will help slow down your other body systems.
  • As you march toward your interview chair, go at a moderate pace but walk confidently.
  • Understand that you have to continue to look the person straight in the eye when insults or criticism are thrown at you. Looking off, downward, or above is a sign of weakness. You want to meet aggression with an assertiveness that is not offensive, and maintaining eye contact displays just that.

Ace your stress interviews with Mentorcruise.

Stress test interviews are never easy. But understanding what’s going on makes nailing them way easier. While you should have undoubtedly prepared for all of the conventional questions you would probably get during a formal interview, you’ve to know how to keep calm and reduce your reactions. And the best way to figure this out is to work with an interview coach.

A career mentor with hiring experience will serve as a technical interviewer at MentorCruise and ask you some standard stress interview questions you may hear in one of your future interviews.

Then you will get real feedback on how to improve your presence, knowledge, and other things about your interview that may be relevant to a future hiring decision.

Got an upcoming interview with one of those companies relying on the stress interview technique to assess the personality of potential employees? Book an interview preparation session in minutes.

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