What is a stress interview?

Most commonly used in investment banking, stress interviewing is the deliberate creation of an uncomfortable situation in order to test how the candidate reacts to pressure.

The ethics of this kind of interviewing are questionable, and it is far from certain that the stress created is similar to what would occur on the job. However, it’s also true that one person’s stress situation is another person’s fair, if tough, question.

Common Examples of Stress-Creating Techniques

  • The interviewer doesn’t say anything for the first five or ten minutes of the interview.
  • The interviewer is reading the paper when the candidate comes into the room.
  • The interviewer asks a tough question right off the bat, without even introducing himself.
  • The interviewer challenges your answer by disagreeing with you.
  • The interviewer pauses for a long time after listening to your response.
  • The interviewer ridicules your background.
  • The interviewer takes you into a department meeting with no introduction.
  • The interviewer is deliberately very late, then keeps looking at his or her watch.
  • The interviewer pretends to fall asleep.

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