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What Is A Stressful Interview And How To Behave In It

Job interviews Dec 2, 2022

Don't rush to leave a job interview if you experience an unpleasant setting, a caps-lock voice, or questions that are too personal. It's likely that the hiring manager or employer chose to arrange a tense interview to evaluate your level of mental stability.

We will explain why the employer might require it in this article, as well as how to handle stressful interviews.

It seems that the stressful interview has been around as long as the job itself. That is, for a very long time. This is how employers try to test how you "survive" in uncomfortable situations, to assess your business qualities in unfamiliar (rather, even uncomfortable) conditions for you.

How does it usually happen? You are happily welcomed (or maybe even offered the job). So you arrive at the office at the scheduled time, wait for a while in the waiting room to speak with the responsible employee for whatever reason, and then you are invited to his office, where it all starts, after gathering all the required paperwork, printing out a résumé, and dressing to impress.

You receive uncomfortable treatment, you put yourself in awkward situations, and perhaps even someone tries to pull you away from yourself. Make yourself ready. You'll need to control your emotions and show stress tolerance.

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How does a stressful interview begin?

Let's list the main techniques used in stressful interviews:

  • Unspecified delay in the start of the interview or its pronounced disorganization;
  • The fast pace of conversation (constant questions, as soon as the applicant answers one question, he is immediately asked the next, unrelated to the first);
  • Inappropriate questions about a candidate's personal life;
  • Conversation on the go;
  • Constant interference during the interview, the presence of unauthorized people;
  • Unpleasant or aggressive questions;
  • The hostile attitude of the interlocutor, talking in caps lock voice;
  • Unexpected behavior (e.g., repeated questions about the same thing, with arguments that the answer is not heard or understood);
  • Intentional doubt about your competence and experience or the success of your work for this company;
  • Questions about the validity of the data provided and asking right now to find someone who can give you a recommendation;
  • Unacceptable situational tasks (you are described a situation and asked to choose a solution from several equally unethical or unacceptable options);
  • Critique of your resume or portfolio.

This is far from a complete example of the tools used in conducting a tough interview. Usually, the interviewer prefers to use several techniques in combination, alternating them and returning to the one already used.

And here are examples of questions that you may be surprised by at a job interview:

  • Do you often go on sick leave?
  • Aren't you going to get married?
  • Are you currently pregnant?
  • Have you ever taken drugs?
  • Give me some examples of when you gave a bribe.
  • How many pencils and paper clips did you take home from your workplace?
  • How often have you had to lie to your manager?

What to do in a stressful interview situation?

Let's first talk about what you definitely shouldn't do:

  • No need to fear and panic

Remember the first commandment of the modern employee: "Work is not my whole life". Especially a job you haven't been hired for yet. Even if you don't get the job, there are plenty of jobs with decent pay. And to have a successful interview - even in stressful situations - you need to show confidence. And above all, to yourself.

  • No need to take what is said to heart

An employee who says unpleasant words to you is a stranger to you. This means that despite what he says, he has nothing personal to you. In addition, his task is to test your stress tolerance. Which means it's your job to pass. Think of it as a challenge or part of a mission.

  • Do not fall for provocations

By falling for provocations, you will demonstrate your imbalance and, moreover, disrespect for the responsible employee. So, fail the stress test.

That's why you shouldn't say the phrase: "What do you think you're doing?" and so on. You're just being "played," you're being tested as a person... You have to follow the "rules of the game" and not make it seem like you're offended by the other person's remarks.

  • Don't accept accusations

Remember that you are a competent and certified professional with experience. This means that your knowledge and skills are time-tested. Don't question this if the interviewer is trying to pressure you. Most likely, he is testing your business qualities.

Even if your interlocutor is sure he is right, tactfully explain that he is wrong. Only in a calm and respectful manner, and with convincing arguments.

Keep in mind that stressful interview conditions are put in place for you for a reason. Your ability to handle pressure is something that an HR manager or employer wants to see when you're under pressure.

Therefore, when you are in a stressful interview, take a deep breath, relax, and show off your skills and professionalism.

It is possible to outline a number of recommendations that will be useful in preparing for any interview:

Prepare in advance

The easiest way to handle the problem is to be ready for potential inspections in advance. It is impossible to correctly forecast them. However, it is theoretically possible to thoroughly prepare for an interview. You can practice with friends and family before the interview to improve your skills. Especially if a big company is looking at your application.

Be calm, firm, and friendly

You are being tested for your strength. If you tremble, it means that you will give in to provocation and lose an interesting place for you. That means you have to be calm and confident. If suddenly the employer continues to persist, you persist too. Calmly show his wrongdoing and your professionalism.

Bring the conversation back to the business format

If your counterpart is trying to anger, pressure, and offend, then instead of an emotional response or admission of guilt, you need to clearly and calmly make it clear that he is wrong.

Instead of reacting emotionally or admitting guilt if your counterpart is trying to irritate, pressure, or offend you, you could state calmly and clearly that he is mistaken.

Ask the employer to provide pleasant interview settings if they try to make you feel uneasy by choosing an uncomfortable location, shining a bright light on your face, etc.

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Demonstrate your professionalism

Doubting a candidate's competence during an interview is a tradition not only for stressful interviews but also for regular hiring. Keep this in mind and plan beforehand. Recommendations from past coworkers and employers will be a strong trump card.

Remember that going beyond what is permitted is a demonstration of the extreme degree of unprofessionalism. If the interviewer pushes your personal physical boundaries or throws objects at you out of emotion, that indicates that he has gone too far and further discussion is pointless. This kind of behavior is utterly unprofessional. Without a doubt, this company is not the best choice for you.

If, however, communication remained within the bounds of the acceptable - you should overcome all acceptable tests to get the desired position.

Author Bio

Helen Wilson is a professional content writer. She’s also a well-known paper writing assistant in the U.S. in the writing company. Her main spheres of specialization are Marketing, Productivity, and Self-development.


Zoi Kotsou

Copywriter - Content writer - Content Strategist

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