Stress Interview:Easy tips to handle questions (2019 Update)

Stress Interviews are common among people looking to hire.In a stress Interview an interviewee may be subjected to an unpleasant experience of interview.Interviewers can be arrogant and provoke you with unpleasant questions about your failures or weaknesses.These Interviews will make you angry,irritated frustrated,But remember the point is to stay calm.This is mainly to check the temperament of a candidate and to check the response and presence of mind of the interviewee when thrown out of his comfort zone.There is no single way to be prepared for all possibilities but let us try to be as prepared as possible!!

    Stress Interview
  1. Stress Interview happens for the following reasons
  2. Different scenarios in a Stress Interview
  3. Intimidating the interviewee
  4. Offensive behavior towards the candidate
  5. To get Unexpected Responses
  6. Brainteasers in an interview
  7. Irritating the Interview candidate
  8. Some Final tips for Stress Interview
Easy tips and smart ways to answer stress interview questions

Best interview that can happen to anybody is the below with no twist and turns?

Interview is defined generally as “a process where one individual poses questions and the other person responds to the poser. The positive outcome of this interaction results in selection and the negative in rejection of the responded person”.

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I have an outstanding academic record – under-graduation from ABC, Post graduation from EFG institute, doctorate from one of the IITs.

Do I have a certificate also issued by these great Institutions? Yes I have.

I have crossed all the hurdles of attending these classes, listened to professors, wrote my examination papers, tested by eminent and qualified examiners and certified to hold the degree / diploma.

Your job requirement says that you need a qualified professional from a prestigious Institution – here I am! Give me the offer.

This is the most straight forward interview process.But in real life it is rare for a such a straight forward process.

Let us prepare for the trickiest interview or in short hope for the best and prepare for the worst kind of interview

Stress Interview happens for the following reasons

The best time for a resource to be tested for their capability to withstand this vagary and this uncertainty is at the entry level – interview stage. So the result is exposing a candidate who has otherwise an excellent educational and experience background, to a form of interview generally known as Stress Interview.

Stress interviews may involve a minor aggression or a disconcerting demeanor from the Panel. Instead of worrying about branding the interviewer as “arrogant”, the interviewee should appreciate the purpose rather than the process to prove that they are better suited to the pressure environment that may or may not obtain in the actual work place.

The exercise at the end of the day will prove that you are calm, composed and can withstand the minor physical and psychological situations posed by the Panel. Not all such exposures go without a snitch. At times, the strain developed between the interviewer and interviewee is so permanent that a wedge persists forever. One more aspect which may hurt the Hiring Manager and the organization may be that an excellent candidate who has withered the storm of this process may back out because of the altercations with the Panel at the time of a so called Stress Interview.

Different scenarios in a Stress Interview

No two stress interviews have to be similar to one another.The point of a stress interview is to put any candidate through a series of difficult scenarios.We can try and list out some of the commonly encountered scenarios.As a candidate,you can try and come up with some other scenarios that you are not comfortable dealing with.The goal should be to practice these scenarios in front of a mirror.The point of the exercise is to get familiar with the uncomfortable scenarios.

Intimidating the interviewee

Some uncommon and irritating questions making the interviewee lose his cool or touching a raw never in his life may be used. All the Panel Members may pose questions of varied nature at the same time – making it difficult for the interviewee to decide who to answer first and in the process goes numb. Though unparliamentary questions are ruled out, Panel can always be little rough in questioning a candidate.

  • “Why were you fired from your last job?” (instead of simply asking why did you leave your previous employer?)
  • "Was your previous job too much for you to handle?" (instead of asking wehther there were pressure situations in your previous assignment?)

This way of intimidating the candidate may be slightly on the harsh side of things.Interviewers would want to question any and every aspect of your resume and the decisions you have made.Intimidating a candidate in an interview does not take a lot of effort for the interviewer.Simply asking you a question and not reciprocating to the answer is what it takes for the interviewee to get intimidated and nervous.The sheer concept of multiple interviewers asking questions simultaneously is pretty intimidating.The questions can be continuous and tedious to articulate and answer the questions.The candidate would have to take some time to first contemplate the facts and then go about answering the questions.

There are simply other ways of intimidating the the interviewee by asking too many details about things that he was involved in .The interviewer may ask questions like what is the exact number of hours you spent doing a specific task.They can technically intimidate you by asking questions like tell the syntax for a specific piece of code in IT.In case of functional or financial scenarios they can tell you to write the expression or formula for computation.The expected answer is not the exact value.The point of the question is to remember the concept.The approach to answer the question is that we can tell them about the concept that relates to the question.We can politely answer saying that we do not remember the exact answer or expression and given the time you could refer back and get back to them.

Offensive behavior towards the candidate

From the time you enter the interview room, you are yelled at for simple things like “why do you stand there staring at the desk. Why don’t you take permission and sit”. “Should I ask for your dossier. Will you not give it to me on your own”. “have the seniors not told you to wish the Panel as soon as you enter. You want me to wish you first – is it?”

The reason why the interviewer would want to be offensive is that they would want to throw you off your game.The basic human tendency would be to revert back but remember the whole point of why they are being offensive.The purpose of them being offensive was to test your patience.If you go ahead and revert back that will negate the purpose of the interview.The best way to take it forward is to abstractly listen to what the interviewer has to say and get the underlying question.This is the part where we ignore the offensive language and try to focus on the content.When we go ahead and answer the question do it with a smiling face as if nothing has happened.This might be difficult as the entire panel is trying to be offensive and we would have to look past that.When we answer the question with a smiling face we are proving that we are letting ourselves get carried by emotions and we are professionals in taking the job at hand seriously and answering the questions.

There are different ways in which the interviewers can be offensive.They can simply ask you if you are wearing formals.If you say yes they can go ahead like "are you suggesting I am blind".They can ask you very factual questions from your previous work or education.In case you fail to answer they would try to insult you for not knowing such basic things.

The job of the interviewer is to get under your skin and be offensive and your job is to not let it happen.Be patient and don't take offense at all.All I could for the interview is leave my ego outside the interview venue during the interview duration.

To get Unexpected Responses

Pose as if they are inattentive, the Panel Member will repeat questions three or four times though you would have comfortably answered in the first instance itself. They want to check your patience in still replying and not losing your temper to say “Sir, this is the nth time you are asking me this question and I have answered n times”. Keep your cool and say “Sir….start answering saying something probably I did not make it clear initially and proceed….”

The purpose of this exercise is to test your patience in putting up with rude or unpleasant behavior by the interview panel.All this will lead to the interviewee reacting in an unexpected manner.The interviewers are expecting you to loose your cool and respond to them in a rude manner.This will not accomplish anything.We may think that we are just responding or reciprocating to the rude behavior by answering the interviewers in the same tone they are asking the question.We should understand that we are suppose to not give the interviewer into making us give unexpected responses

Consider this to be a patience game in which we are just playing along by listening to all that the interviewers say and only responding to things that are required in a very polite manner.

Brainteasers in an interview

"How many stairs did you climb up to reach our office?”. “What was the name of the driver who drove your taxi?”. “I did not count sir. Who will remember all this?” you respond(they expect this…) “It was Ola. I just got into and got out. Did not bother to check” (they expect…) “the same number that I would climb down” (intelligent…) “It is Kannan Sir” (they know they cannot check this but like your alertness)

Brainteasers are one more way of putting a person off his game.The Brainteaser may some times be puzzles that may be given to you or they may even ask the number of doors that were there between reception and office or they may ask you the number of steps that are present between the first floor and second floor.Now do you seriously think that it is relevant for anyone to know the exact of these things.The point is that these people are trying to test your wit.The most apt is any answer because in some cases even these people do not know the answer.The best way to go answering these question is to have an educational guess about the question.If the answer to the question for number of stairs can go like let us say the "The first floor is 10 to 12 feet from the ground and assuming even two steps per feet there would be 24 steps"

Irritating the Interview candidate

In some cases the panel may make a specific candidate to wait for hours together before they can attend the interview.They may also call candidates who arrived after you just to see your reaction.the problem with this approach is that we would get irritated even before attending a single question from the interview panel.

The effect this would have on the outcome is very high because we would be irritated even from the point they tell us to tell us about ourselves.We should make sure that we have all the patience to keep calm and take one question at a time.

Some Final tips for Stress Interview

Patience is the key do not loose patience.

Make a conscious effort to look at every question with an abstract view point .

Make sure you do not let your emotions cloud your judgment.

Most of the people fail to crack the interviews because they get carried away and sometimes get into an argument with the interviewer.

Think spontaneously and try subjecting yourself to such interview experiences

or read about the interview experiences that people have had in a similar context.

Confidence is the key in these interviews.

The interviewers are not looking for right or wrong answers instead they are looking for confident people who are able to handle tricky questions.

Please do not decide the outcome of the interview from just the look on people's faces wait for the final list


In case of a stress interview everything is a test.

The Panel should convince itself that I do not lose cool easily,was able to think on my feet and wriggle out of any awkward situations with a smile.

Then, I should be in and selected!