Situational Stress Interviews

Depending on the type of job you’re applying for, the interviewer may use situational stress techniques in an attempt to rattle you during the job interview. These techniques can include body language, responses and interview questions. An interviewer uses situational stress interviews to determine how well you work under pressure.

While situational stress interviews can feel unorthodox, the techniques can really give the interviewer a sense of your personality. This includes your temperament, your reasoning skills and your ability to communicate well with others. Gaining this insight can be crucial in order to employ the right type of person for a high-stress job. This can include jobs that deal directly with the public on a heavy basis, jobs that require confidentiality, and ones where employees must work under extreme time crunches with demanding responsibilities.

Types of Situational Stress Interview Questions

The hiring manager will generally ask you questions during a situational stress interview that are meant to confuse you or catch you off guard. If you’re prepared and know the signs of such an interview, there is a good chance that you will be able to answer appropriately. The best thing to do while answering is to remain calm, avoid being defensive and answer as best you can. Certain types of situational stress interview questions are as follows:

  • What would you do if a coworker admitted to you that he had padded his resume to get the job?

  • If a customer used a racial slur when referring to you, what would you do?

  • How would you deal with a boss who criticized you when you felt you didn’t deserve it?

  • What would you do if you saw a coworker take money from the register?

  • How would you handle it if you and your boss didn’t get along?

  • Describe your relationship with the most difficult coworker at your last job.

  • What would you do if you found out a coworker was spreading false rumors about you?

  • What would you do if someone else took credit for your idea and that person was given a raise?

    • Why were you fired from your last job?
    • How many companies are you applying to work for?
  • Can you repeat your answer, please? It didn’t feel complete.

    • List the ten most recent Presidents.

    These are just a few of the types of situational stress interview questions that a hiring manager may ask. The motive is to throw you off guard and see who you really are. Hiring managers know that many candidates prepare answers to the most common interview questions, and throwing out questions that the candidate may not be prepared for can go a long way into getting to know how that candidate works under pressure.

    Types of Situational Stress Interview Behaviors

    In addition to interview questions, there are specific behaviors that a hiring manager may exhibit during this type interview. While it may seem that the hiring manager is being rude or unresponsive, these behaviors are often meant to test your reactions. Such behaviors include:

    • Sighing
    • Appearing to not listen to what you have to say
  • Asking you to answer the same question repeatedly

    • Talking too softly or too loudly
    • Avoiding eye contact
    • Taking notes without interaction
    • Interrupting
    • Appearing hostile
    • Seeming rushed

    When a hiring manager exhibits these types of behaviors, the most important thing to do is to remain calm and collected. You’ll want to show your patience regarding anything that may seem annoying and to show your confidence with anything meant to throw you off. Of course, a hiring manager may not be employing a stress tactic at all when exhibiting these types of behaviors. However, the same rules apply to your responses. The best way to tell if a hiring manager is usually situational stress techniques is to see what his behavior is like at the end of the interview. If he suddenly changes demeanor and seems pleased with the interview, it is quite likely that you passed an internal test that you may not have been aware of.

    Interviewers can use situational stress interviews to gain specific insights into your personality. They will use specific questions to see how you work with difficult people, how you treat those in authority, your honesty and level of morale, and if you possess knowledge that goes beyond the requirements of the job. Handling a tough interview with confidence and poise can go a long way toward landing you the job.

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