Stress interviews can be among the most uncomfortable and difficult methods available for screening candidates, as the hiring manager must identify each person's strengths and weaknesses without building rapport. However, this interview strategy can also be extremely helpful for identifying future hires who will thrive in high-pressure work environments, which may in turn allow companies to slash their employee turnover. Use the guide below for information on what a stress interview is and tips on how to conduct a stress interview successfully.
A stress test interview is designed to make the candidate nervous and uncomfortable. The goal is to reveal how each applicant would hold up under the demands of their new role. This method of screening candidates is most common in sectors that require employees to perform frequently in fast-paced or high-pressure environments, such as journalism, law enforcement, or sales.
For some hiring managers, it can be difficult to create such an antagonistic atmosphere. Empathetic interviewers may struggle to put job candidates on the spot and feel guilty for making the meeting such a discouraging experience.
In order to make a stress test interview work, however, it’s important to have the right mindset. Stress-based interview questions are not sadistic and cruel—they are a tool to identify future hires who can deliver necessary results under the high-pressure conditions of the job. Focus on creating a situation where applicants have to overcome obstacles and make quick decisions just like they will need to if hired, not on making them angry.
When planning the logistics for how to conduct a stress interview at your company, remember that the interview has a significant impact on how prospective new hires will view your organization. This method should only be used if it will truly help you find the right talent for your company.
Consider having a coworker show them around the building or speak with them after the meeting with a positive disposition, to balance the negative reaction some candidates may have to a stress interview. You might even consider telling candidates after the meeting that it was intentionally stressful. This way, you can still build a positive relationship with top talent, while also assessing how they function under pressure.