A stress interview is one where an uncomfortable situation is deliberately created to test how the candidate reacts under pressure. It is not a pleasant situation to be in and the ethics of such interviewing methodology is questionable; as is the result produced, since the stress situation created in a stress interview may not be the same as the stress that comes along with the job. However it is more important for a candidate to know how to cope with a tough interview like that than question the ethics of it.
It is also true that one person’s stress situation is another’s tried and tested screening process. In an interview like that recruiters are basically trying to test your mettle, so do not fumble with nervousness or crack under pressure. Do not be afraid to give bold answers either, because more often than not it is something the employers want to hear in a stress interview. Following are some examples of stress-creating techniques:
1. The interviewer doesn’t say anything for the first five or ten minutes of the interview.
2. The interviewer is reading the paper when the candidate comes into the room.
3. The interviewer asks a tough question right away, without even introducing himself.
4. The interviewer challenges your answer by disagreeing with you.
5. The interviewer pauses for a long time after listening to your response.
6. The interviewer ridicules your background.
7. The interviewer is deliberately late and then keeps looking at his or her watch.
8. The interviewer pretends to fall asleep.
How can you handle situations like this? The first and foremost step is to exhibit confidence, even if you are not feeling so inside. If the interviewer ignores you when you walk in the room, just dive into conversation with something like, “I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce myself and tell you why I think I’m the right person for this job.” After a long pause, you might say, “Perhaps I didn’t make myself clear.” Then explain your previous response.
If the manager ridicules your background, you could say, “Perhaps you expected different qualifications, but these have served me well so far and I intend to continue to build on them.” If the interviewer pretends to fall asleep, write a note saying, “I enjoyed meeting you,” put it in front of the interviewer, and rise to leave. Chances are, you’ll get the interviewer’s full attention.
The basic principle is that the interviewers want to see if you’ll succumb to their tactics or not. So they will most likely ask stern and trick questions. Keeping your cool and answering with a straight face will probably turn the situation to your advantage. If you are able to engage the recruiters in a sane conversation in such a tough interview consider half the battle won. The war will begin if you go on to clinch the job and start working in a high pressure situation under someone like them!