Job interviews can be highly unnerving, as you are all too aware. The downright rude interviewer is another matter altogether. Should you persist with the interview through to the end, or cut it short and walk out?
One question that often filters through the minds of job seekers facing a hostile, belittling or simply dismissive interviewer is, “Do I really want to work for this organisation?”…followed quickly by, “How can I take directives from this person every day if I already disrespect them?”. Some interviewers are just bad at conducting interviews. Others are having a bad day. But what of those who deliberately engage a hostile approach? And why are they prepared to offend and lose quality candidates with this tactic?
The stress interview is utilised to place a candidate under intense pressure. The employer wants to know how the candidate will manage conflict, excessive workloads and multiple projects. Let’s face it, not everyone can juggle twenty-five balls simultaneously, yet some job roles demand that we do.
When you attend a job interview, you know you have done your homework, putting in the time and effort to thoroughly research and understand the job and the company interviewing you. You are prepared for a sincere and courteous interview. What you are not prepared for is an antagonistic, bad mannered hiring manager. This is why the stress interview often comes as such a huge shock. It is completely unexpected! And how do you know you may be in for a bumpy ride? Well, the interview may just commence with a cursory view of your resume, followed by an eye roll and a rather audible sigh. The aim: to get you on the defensive.
So, now that you’re facing forty-five minutes of hell, how are you going to manage it? The stress test will do exactly that, TEST YOU! The interviewer’s questions, behaviour and commentary may make you feel angry, irritated, frustrated and may be even a little frightened. It will not only be your verbal responses under scrutiny, but also your body language. And don’t think they are not constantly watching and assessing you at every stage. Your reactions, good or bad, will determine if you are suited to the role or not.
Triggering stress throughout the interview may be insults; we usually don’t hire candidates who have a degree from that university. That would certainly offend me! Criticisms of your responses are also designed to bring out your temper; you only have two years’ experience, I hardly think you’re an expert. Attempts to embarrass you are also a favoured tactic; I see from your Facebook page that you like to dress up in drag. It was a fancy dress party and a hoot of a night, but suddenly you feel like you have been caught doing the wrong thing and are feeling very red faced. There will also be questions solely designed to make you angry; so why were fired? Hmm, your resume clearly states that your former employer went into voluntary liquidation. And of course, let’s not forget those completely unexpected behaviours where one moment you are having a conversation, and the next the interviewer is staring out the window completely ignoring you. We all have a limit as to how much stress we can handle, could you get through this type of interview without flinching?
Of course nothing is ever fool proof which is why the stress interview can backfire. On the hiring company that is. The nature of a stress interview can be terribly bad for public relations. If you interview a candidate and don’t hire them, they may be inclined to spread the word that the company is horrible and deter quality candidates from applying for positions there in the future. And who is to say that the stress interview will determine who is good under pressure and who is not? There is no evidence that the stress interview is an accurate predictor of one’s ability to manage job pressures, particularly when the interview method itself is deliberately looking to place people on guard and in a position of defensiveness. And what happens when that candidate goes to work for a rival company? Well, I’m sure they will take advantage of every opportunity that seeks to undermine the company that humiliated and harshly judged them. The scare tactic, it may just come full circle.
In the stress interview it is not so much the details of your response that is important, but rather how you respond. To beat the stress test, maintain your temper, maintain your humour and always, always remain confident, assertive and honest. Resilience is key.