A stress interview is an unpleasant tactic that is used in an effort to simulate a fast paced and high stressed event. Companies will administer such an interview tactic to see how the candidate will handle a situation dominated by stress. You may find that this type of interview is simply overwhelming. The stress interview is designed to be just that. It is supposed to push you to your absolute edge and then a little beyond that just to see how you react.
There are mixed feelings about the validity of a stress interview. One side claims that this is an important interview strategy designed to weed out the weaker candidates from the stronger ones. Opponents to the strategy claim that accurate information and character assessment cannot possibly be gathered when a room full of people is bombarding the candidate with questions. Whether or not the stress interview actually works will remain up to debate. Your main concern is how to handle this type of interview.
What to Expect During A Stress Interview
A stress induced interview is given without warning. Otherwise a certain amount of stress will be taken away because of the notice. When you walk into the room you should be able to tell what type of interview the process is going to be just by the energy in the room.
When you walk in to find a sea of hostile glares greeting you and barely a smile you know that you are in for a stressful interview. Just take a deep breath and try to relax before introducing yourself. The best way to handle a stressful room is to disarm the stress as soon as you can. Smile and be energetic and positive as you meet the interviewer and the others in the room.
A hostile interview loses much of its power as soon as the interviewers realize that you are simply unaffected by their attempts. Once the actual interview begins you will find yourself hit by a flood of fast paced questions. Take the questions one at a time directing your answers either to the interviewer or the person in a position above the interviewer.
It is important to determine some type of hierarchy in the first minute of introductions. This way you will know whose question take a priority and you can respond in kind.
Answering the Questions During A Stress Interview
The fast paced questioning is supposed to trip you up and get you flustered. Recognizing this you will be able to force the questioning to slow down allowing you to answer what is asked in a measured and calm manner. You certainly do not want to become aggravated or frustrated during the interview process.
Make sure to ask questions you may have as well. Do not allow the room to drown you out. Your questions are just as important as the interviewers and may even help to demonstrate your eligibility for the position.
Of course if the stress becomes too much and you simply need a minute to recover you can always address the stress inducing strategy. This may be enough to end the stressful part and initiate the more laid back and relaxed questioning.
If the high octane interview continues you can work to take the power away from the interviewers. Walk the room, move to a projector or black board and start using visual aid in your answers. By placing yourself in a position of power you are tipping the scales in your favor.
When Enough is Enough
It is important to remember that just because you are seeking a job does not allow the interviewer to treat you with disrespect. If you find that the stress is too much or has reached simply the breaking point of your tolerance you can stop the interview. You certainly do not have to tolerate a hostile situation.
Hopefully, your experience will not require you to walk away from the stress interview. Just remember to smile, try to shift the power in your favor, and answer the questions calmly.
Adapted From The Everything Job Interview Book, 2nd Edition by Joy Darlington and Nancy Schuman, Copyright © 2008, 2001 by F W Media, Inc., published by Adams Media, a division of F W Media, Inc. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.