Updated June 9, 2023
A stress interview is a type of job interview where the interviewer puts pressure on the candidate by asking difficult questions in a challenging environment. The purpose of this interview is to evaluate how well the candidate can handle stress and respond to difficult situations. It is usually used for more complex job positions than a regular interview, which is conducted in a less stressful setting.
Introduction to Stress Interview
When you face an interview board, you sweat from tip to toe, and your mind goes blank. And naturally, this whole stress interview process is horrifying, especially for aspirants who have recently come out of their student life to face the real world.
- Stanford psychologist and author Dr. Kelly McGonigal gave a startling message in his book “Stress Isn’t Bad For Us!” Dr. Kelly says instead of discarding the stress, use it to improve your life. If you are facing a stressful moment, use the same to get the courage to pursue what matters most.
- As said by Tennessee Williams, “A high station in life is earned by the gallantry with which appalling experiences are survived with grace.” It is such a beautiful quote that I could not resist but to reveal that no difficult situation or stress interview moment can stop any person; we must fight it with grace.
But how to do it? Drink at least two glasses of water, chat with other contestants, and tell funny anecdote/s.
Tips & Tricks
Below are some tips to follow in a stress interview:
#1 – Do Not Panic
No matter how your interview panel is riding you with tons of stress interview questions or making you stand in an overly warm room, retain your composure. There are so many things to do before a stress interview to get rid of your nervousness.
- Remember those days when you performed school plays, and at that time, you knew that eating before going to the stage or doing any highly stressed work could get you jittery.
- Also, avoid drinking coffee; prepare for the stress interview and perform some breathing exercises.
- When you face the interview board, greet them with your smile, introduce yourself, sit comfortably, and look into their eyes.
- Keep your mind clear of all the doubts, and always remember that the people taking your interview are human beings; they only want to judge your potential and know more about you.
- Try to charm them with good words and create an atmosphere cool with light humor.
#2 – Be True To Yourself
- Get up to a great beginning by dressing adequately. Give your nervousness a new twist, make it energetic, and learn to use it as a motivator.
- Good volume and inflection can get your ideas to come alive.
- During the interview rounds, speak energetically, this would make listening interesting, and you won’t ramble on.
- Learn to converse with gestures and give emphasis on the key points. We make a gesture during a normal routine, but while giving an interview, we forget about it.
- Try to display the personality that shows you the kind of person you are; whether you are a go-getter, motivator, quite a person, or talkative, let them see who you are.
#3 – They Want You
Remember that you have gone for the stress interview as they are more desperate to appoint you than you are to seek the job. They have already seen your skills, but now they want to know more about you and the qualities that make you different. Make sure you know your attributes and learn to display the same strength.
#4 – Refrain from Getting Offended
The interview panel wants to check your capability to handle criticism and how well you can fight against the odds. They can ask stress interview questions that might be too difficult for you to answer but keep your mind cool. Always remember that no matter how long and how much you want the job, it is the only opportunity you would get. So try to answer their questions strategically, and if you do not know the answer, tell them politely. No man is perfect, and even a stress interviewer may not know many things you know.
The stress is attributed to the lack of practice, making it a stress interview. A successful interview largely depends on the time that you have placed beforehand. You can and should cultivate your interview skills as much as possible. Practice for the interview while standing in front of the mirror and paying special attention to your facial expression, posture, and eye contact.
#5 – Keep yourself Well Targeted
Handling stressful situations also means you can impress the interviewees with your words and how you talk. Long-winded responses can take time.
- Organize your talking points in a way that would help you to remember the same.
- Know about the main points that you wanted to tell during the time of the stress interview. Note these points down and keep on analyzing them.
- Lengthy or tedious responses can cause deviation from the main aim or goal, and the same tangents can be bland or wordy. Learn to give short and to-the-point answers that are best understood.
- Keep the conversation cool, and be comfortable.
#6 – Study Well About The Company
Candidates are nervous because they are unfamiliar with the company and the interview panelists and how they would ask stress interview questions. By thoroughly studying the company, the best thing is to show your familiarity with the position and organization. Also, prepare the questions you would ask the interview panelists; two or three insightful questions on the employer’s role can make much difference.
#7 – Give Strategic Responses
Use the same strategies as the salary negotiation to answer the stress interview questions. If you need more clarity on the questions asked, get it clarified; this could give you some moments to think about the possible answer you can provide.
Try to understand the interviewer’s motive and do not regret asking any questions to get clarity; this is what the stress interview expects from you. Secondly, you will feel composed by asking the question, and then it will be the interviewer’s turn to answer your query.
Speak up about your thoughts and ideas, and show that you are trying to solve the problem even if the same might not be the right answer. And if you answer the stress interview questions by telling about your past incident or a story, stay on track.
#8 – Keep on Smiling
Keep smiling during the stress interview process, but change your expression if there is a discussion on a serious issue. Smiling is a motivator and shows you as an optimistic person with a positive outlook towards life. Allow the first impression your interviewers would have of you to be of the warmth in your personality. This means you are giving positive responses and the impression that you are compassionate and that anybody would be lucky to work with you.
Find out what a smile can do for you!
- A good smile tells people who you are and shows you as a cheerful person with confidence, smart, warm, trustworthy, and above all, you are open for discussion and easily reachable at any time.
- Studies have found that even if you have made a minor mistake, your smile can ease the environment and motivate the team and the seniors to rectify it. A smile can even win over your opponents. It tells the people that you know you have made a mistake but can move on.
- A single smile creates a congenial and very pleasing atmosphere. So if you want your interviewer to relax and enjoy your interview, always remember to smile. The whole atmosphere of the stress interview room will become very pleasant, and you will feel motivated to talk to the panelists.
A smile should be genuine, as a false smile can be detrimental to your interview. That’s quite true that a simple smile can make you play the stress interview ball on the same level, yet it is always suggested not to push too much into it. Studies have also found that the human body can easily recognize a fake smile. A forced smile unveils negative emotion, and you could get an opposite reaction to what you have been expecting. An interviewer might feel uncomfortable with a false smile, creating a negative impression of you, so it is always best to relax and keep a natural smile.
#9 – Do some Breathing Exercises
If ever a person is under stress, his pattern of breathing changes. It is scientifically proven that deep breathing reduces stress. Generally, an anxious person takes very small and shallow breaths by using the shoulders instead of the diaphragm to help move air in and out of the lungs. This kind of breathing disrupts the balance of gasses in the body. Shallow over-breathing or hyperventilation can also increase the feeling of anxiety by making the symptoms of stress worse. (Source: Better Health Channel).
But we can change our breathing styles and patterns. A complete inhale and exhale of the oxygen level in the blood could also be very relaxing. When your mind is relaxed, you get clarity and can answer the stress interview questions satisfactorily.
#10 – Speak some Funny Anecdotes
You are stressed-fearing at the sight of the monster-like interview panelists who are ready with the dragon-like stress interview questions to pierce you; at this moment, how could you be humorous? Is it not odd to give a punchline when panelists talk about something very serious? Well, it depends on your judgment. How could you add some humor element to it?
Interview panelists will be impressed by how you clear the stress interview situation. However, is it a masterful strategy to give an interesting punchline in your comments? The punchlines reflect your tendency, capability, and skill to generate an idea interestingly. It can also turn any absurd situation upside down, which is what comedian Tig Notaro did after she found that she had breast cancer. She worked on her fears and rode the same into a positive. (Source: Brandon Specktor, online).
You can add a punchline to the stress interview questions, like how to handle economic crises. This is a serious question, but think about cartoonists and how they make a serious topic interesting, which people love. Adding a punchline creates an impression of your intelligence and the twist you can give to the case. Moreover, humor eases the tense environment.
No doubt handling a high-stress interview is very difficult, but by practicing and changing your behavior, attitudes, and positive approach, you can do it.
This has been a guide to performing well in a stress interview that can hamper your quest to get your dream job. Here are tips to prepare you well for the day.