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What is a stress interview?

The word stress has become part of today's lifestyle. The mere word elicits some negative feelings within us. People feel stressed at home and in office. Young men even claim that that they are stressed planning for their first date!

What is stress?

Stress is the result of an interaction of individual and environment. It depends on the ability of the individual to respond to a situation. The response of the individual can be both positive and negative.


What does the term responsibility mean?

In simple words it is response-able - the ability to respond to situations. One of the abilities measured during an interview is your ability to respond to adverse situations.

Handling stress is an important aspect of any job. Deadlines, appraisals, an unexpected resignation of a subordinate at the final stages of a key projectů these are part of any job. As you go up the ladder, the degree of stress is bound to increase.

The ability to handle your emotions, to do more than one activity at a time, your tolerance for ambiguity, and your energy levels are all measured and evaluated during stress interviews.

The stress interview as a tool

The stress interview is a tool the employer uses to

  • recreate a stressful job environment and evaluate the candidate in terms of his ability to handle stressful situations.

The assumption is that the individual who performs better under stressful situations is likely to handle live stress situations at work in the best possible manner.

The stress interview also helps the employee

  • evaluate the true nature of candidate; to see if the candidate is likely to lose his cool and react intuitively and emotionally under stressful conditions.

Some stress interview techniques.

  1. Create the unexpected to see how people react.
  2. Just as you open the door, you will be surprised to see a big room and the interview panel members seated at a table at the far end of the room.

    Or you might not have a chair for yourself etc.

  3. Increase the stress level.
  4. The candidate is surrounded by five interview panelists who shoot questions one after the other. The interval between questions is minimal. This is a tactic employed to rattle the candidate by not giving him enough time to think.

  5. Ambiguity
  6. The questions are not very direct. There are no right or wrong answers.

  7. Increase emotional level
  8. The questions directly involve incidents that elicit emotional responses from the candidates. The candidate is constantly kept in the emotional plane and is not allowed to answer from the intellect.

  9. Criticism
  10. Accusatory statements are made and candidate is encouraged to be on the defensive. The candidate is subject to extreme false personal attacks of character etc.

  11. Confrontation
  12. The interviewer cross-examines the validity of statements or claims made by candidate. For example he accuses the candidate of being lazy and tells him that his average educational profile is attributed to lack of hard work etc.

  13. Reaction to failure
  14. The candidate has to undertake complex tasks and his reaction to failure is observed.

  15. Abusive language
  16. The interviewer uses derogatory statements to the candidate in attempt to rattle him.

  17. Hot seat technique:

Interviewers surround the candidate and questions are asked from all directions. Sometimes the interviewer is behind the candidate and three observers sit in front of the candidate.


Tackle your stress interview coolly

  1. At the end of a stress interview, the interviewer will take some time to debrief you. This is to ensure that the interview does not have a negative impact on you. They will discuss where they used techniques like confrontation in their attempt to rattle you.
  2. Remember to avoid giving your performance in the stress interview undue importance. Let it be a check to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Take necessary corrective actions and forget the whole incident once you leave the interview room.
  3. Once you realise that the interviewers are using tactics of a stress interview, you should immediately be able to shift gears. Try to maintain your cool.
  4. Since the aim is get you emotional, try your best to be calm, collect your thoughts, respond clearly from the intellect rather than emotions.
  5. Do not take the interviewers' remarks personally
  6. Be consistent in your responses.
  7. The interviewer is trying to gauge your real personality. Avoid projecting a false image of yourself.
  8. Try to be coherent as possible. Speak slowly and clearly.
  9. Attempt to maintain your emotional balance throughout the interview.

With the right attitude, your stress interview could be a walkover for you. We at career enrich wish you good luck for the same.


Also Checkout
More about interviews
Types of interview
The first step - responding to the call letter
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