What to do if you face a stress interview

2/19/2019

What to do if you face a stress interview

Companies are always looking for a way to get an edge on the competition when it comes to bringing aboard the best and most qualified employees. However, some of them may go to lengths in their interview techniques that makes some employees uncomfortable. That's certainly the case with many so-called "stress interviews" - in which potential hires are intentionally put in stressful situations.

Stress interviews have been in the news lately because of some viral social media posts, and they remain common among certain companies even if they aren't always popular with applicants, according to HR professional Liza Ryan, writing for Forbes. The fad began about 20 years ago and hasn't faded despite changing attitudes toward appropriate workplace culture.

Many HR pros believe they're also ineffective because, while a hiring manager may want to see how candidates "thinks on their feet" or "perform under pressure," the ways in which people respond to stress isn't a 1-to-1 correlation to how they'll actually perform on the job every day.

With that in mind, if you find yourself in one of these interviews - which can take a number of forms - here are a few tips to handle the pressure:

1) Ask your own questions

One of the most common traits of a stress interview is the hiring manager asking a lot of questions in rapid succession, according to The Balance Careers. You can counteract that effort by posing questions of your own, seeking to clarify what the interviewer is asking. This may help put them on the defensive themselves, and will certainly give you a little more time to think of a good response.

2) Answer with stories

If you're generally quick on your feet, it's a good idea to take a while with your answers, tying them into past work experience, The Balance noted. This will not only slow down the pace of the interview, but also help present you as being more at-ease with the process. Moreover, this could also highlight critical thinking skills. However, if you go this route, try to make sure your stories relate to the question at hand in some way, and have a general point to them.

3) Be open and honest

The point of a stress interview is to make you a little ill at ease, and if you're really feeling the pressure, you can always relate that to the interviewer, according to Monster. If, for instance, you find the questions are coming a bit too fast and furious, or are about something you don't really want to discuss (such as the particular circumstances around leaving a job), you can just say so. 

4) Feel free to walk away

If this interview style is a complete surprise and it's making you truly uncomfortable, you don't have to sit there and endure it for an hour or more, Monster advised. You can just thank the interviewer for their time and leave. While you may be walking out on a job opportunity, any environment where they would make you that uncomfortable just in the interview is probably one where you wouldn't feel comfortable working in the first place.

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