Don’t let a stress interview add to your already-established job-search stress.
Job interviews are already pretty stressful, so is there any real difference between a typical interview and a stress interview?
The answer is yes. A stress interview is an interviewing style that companies use to gauge a candidate's response to stress. The idea is that it’ll give the hiring team an idea of how you’ll respond when juggling various high-priority tasks, dealing with challenging clients, or facing a difficult co-worker or manager. Will you cry? Will you walk out of the room? Will you freeze up? Or will you calmly problem solve and face the situation with grace?
Before you get too stressed out, let’s go over what you can expect during a stress interview.
What to expect during a stress interview
Stress-interviewing tactics vary, but you might experience a slew of intimidating — even uncomfortable — questions. For example, you could be asked: Why were you fired? How do you think this interview is going? Why did you apply for this job when you don’t have enough experience? What other companies are you interviewing with? Do you think I’m a good interviewer?
Then you might get hit with a few brainteaser questions. These questions have no one correct answer; they’re designed to stump you — or hopefully showcase your problem-solving skills. Some examples of these questions include: How many Skittles would fit in this room? How would you sell this pen to someone? How would you deal with a co-worker that you caught stealing?
Finally, the interviewer might act downright rude. You walk into the room, and he’s hunched behind the computer screen — doesn’t acknowledge you. Or he might tell you he doesn’t like your answer — to try again. He could also outright tell you that you’re not the right fit — that you need to convince him otherwise.
How to prepare for — and cope during — a stress interview
Feeling stressed and haven’t even walked into your stress interview yet? Don’t panic; that won’t help. Here are some simple ways to prepare for a stress interview — and how to keep your cool:
1. Research the company
Don’t assume you’re walking into a stress interview. That’s going to add even more anxiety to an already stressful situation.
In order to gain a better understanding of what to expect, ask the company’s recruiter or your point of contact what type of interview style you should expect. You might also ask for some sample questions. The internet can offer some insight, as well. Check out Glassdoor’s interview section to see if past candidates have posted comments or sample interview questions.
2. Remember to take your time … and breathe
This goes for any interview — but especially in stress interviews. Don’t forget to pause and breathe. If the interviewer is setting a fast pace, it’s easy to get wrapped into it. If you need to take a moment to regain composure, take a deep breath and ask the interviewer to repeat the question. This gives you some time to calm your nerves and think about your answer.
You can also try asking the interviewer some questions about the company. This will allow you to take a deep breath and reset.
3. Practice and seek feedback
The best way to shake the anxiety that’ll inevitably tag along with a stress interview? Practice!
But not sure how to practice for a stress interview in particular? If you’re feeling unprepared and jittery, enlist the help of an interview coach.
With an interview coach, you’ll be able to run through a mock stress interview (no side laughter like you’d get from your spouse, parents, friends, etc.) and receive a professional’s feedback. Use the session to gain confidence and practice answering intense questions; then apply the feedback you receive to the real thing and you’ll be better positioned for success.
Feeling stressed and want to practice for your upcoming stress interview? Our expert TopInterview coaches can help.