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The Stress Interview - Employment Interviews Under Fire

Apr 15, 2008
Everybody in an interview process wants to get that job and be hired. It may be the income, or extra income, that you want or need. It may be a promotion up the ladder in your career. It may be your first job. It may be a boss, supervisor or management that you just want to get away from. Or it may just that you want new scenery - which you have either gotten bored with the service, industry or product that you are providing or servicing at the current moment.

There is one type or format of interview that no applicant really likes - it can be referred to the "Stress Interview" mode or the "Pressure under Fire" interview style or tactic. In this type or mode of interview the subject (the person being interviewed for the position or for employment) is put to the test. It's all about a test of the applicant's behavior, logic and emotional control under pressure. While this type of interview is not routine, it is in the "books". You may never experience such an interview style or process. Yet it's good to know that such methods exist, and be prepared for them. If you want the job, you have to be prepared. If you want to be prepared you should have thought through and familiar with the practice of this type of interview. You may never encounter it. Then again if you do - preparation and anticipation ahead of time may save the day for you - and get you the job offer.

To begin with what is amazing is that the stress interview is often done by the firms who you most likely guess would employ such procedures. It's often the firms with the so called laziest employees who call such shots. The amazing thing is that once employed that the general standard of work, that is practiced by the employees of the firm or organization have little at all to do with the qualities that the stress interview was supposed to test for. So goes life.

According to the human resources books and practices, stress type interviews are generally reserved for jobs that require regular pressure. With front line workers now conveying some authority and responsibility for dealing with customer issues and interactions at the front lines , with all the outsourcing along with downsizing and resultant "multitasking" , who and which job does not fall under the categories of " a job with constant pressure" as well as " having to make rapid decisions under stress " ?

Be prepared : In some cases you may encounter a skilled interviewer who may use some stress techniques in combination with an unstructured interview approach in order to get a well rounded picture of your personality - including your best work orientated traits as well as some of your not so good , or even terrible traits.

What to expect in order to best anticipate and prepare for these types of interviews? Some of the techniques routinely used in stress interviewing include remaining silent following one of your remarks, questioning you rapidly, placing you on the defensive side with irritating questions or remarks. In addition you may simply be exposing to criticism of your answers to questions, responses or general remarks.

It can be said that the interviewer may the stress interview technique purposefully. Or it may just come about, in mid interview, more or less accidentally, almost as a matter of course.

How do you handle the situation? Firstly, it is best not to react negatively. Just answer the questions. Take a deep breath... Demonstrate some control over your actions. Always be polite and courteous. You are being tested. Politeness and courteousness under stress earns good points.

In the end it all depends how much you want or need the job. It is your choice whether you decide to put up with the charade or just get up from your chair, and politely explain that you simply came for an interview for employment for the firm.

Perhaps it's best for both parties that you mutually agree to end the interview at that moment. Politeness as always counts.

More than one interview applicant has been called back after such an approach. That was the real test under fire or how to act courteously and with dignity under real pressure.
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