The Stress Interview

While recruiters can opt for many different types of interviews, the stress interview remains quite controversial. To learn more about different types of interviews, check out our previous article. In this article, the exceptional recruitment team at GCS Malta will focus on the benefits and disadvantages of choosing stress interviews in your recruitment process.

What is a stress interview?

Typically, a stress interview either starts normally or late on purpose. Different interviewers opt to use different tactics, but these seem to be the most popular approaches:

  • Odd silences
  • Constant interruptions
  • Hostility and arrogance from the interviewer
  • Provoking/rude/controversial/personal questions
  • Rapid-fire questions with no time to answer effectively

No matter the tactic chosen, the interviewer’s goal is to challenge the candidate with a stressful situation to judge the candidate’s reaction and reasoning in a high-stake stressful environment. Since not all jobs have the same amount of stress level, stress interviews are more commonly used for positions related to:

  • Air travel
  • Law enforcement
  • High-pressure sales
  • High-value client negotiating

While this type of interview possibly allows for a recruiter to judge how a candidate will handle stress at the workplace, the stress interview remains controversial due to its questionable tactics. In 2019, communications professional Olivia Bland’s story went viral after taking to Twitter to express her horrible experience during a stress interview. She claimed it ‘felt like being sat in a room with [her] abusive ex.’

Can it work in your favour?

Similar in thought, Walter Mischel’s Stanford’s Marshmallow Experiment in 1972 focused on self-control. Six hundred children were offered a marshmallow and told that they would get an extra one if they resisted eating it. The ideology was that the longer they chose to wait, the more successful they would be. While milder than a stress interview, both ‘experiments’ test the amount of control and how candidates handle these conditions. By choosing this type of interview, you can weed out candidates that are too sensitive and lack critical thinking in high-pressurised situations. However, stress interviews are very commonly misused, so make sure to use them only for high-pressurised jobs.

Are stress interviews a double-edged sword?

Many agree that while stress interviews can help a hiring manager get perspective when properly used, the tactic itself is outdated. One can argue that when candidates feel comfortable during the interview, they are more likely to share information and handle the situation better. However, remember that the interview experience will also reflect the company itself, and so you might also be sacrificing:

  • Brand image – A CareerBuilder survey found that nearly a quarter of unhappy candidates advised other candidates against working there. Candidates talk, and choosing this method might damage your company’s good reputation.
  • The perfect candidate – The aggressive interview often leads candidates to believe that they will not get the job. It seems that the common result is that the candidate does not even want the job after the interview, even if they are offered a position, “Why would I want to work for a company that treats its employees with no respect?”
  • Company culture and morale – Potential hires primarily garner an idea of your company culture through the interview. In addition, the stress interview incites candidates to build a negative view of their co-workers and company procedures.

Therefore, it is imperative to use stress interviews only when acceptable and necessary!

Why GCS Malta?

At GCS Malta, our expert recruitment team can offer you a quick and cost-effective recruitment service suited to your needs. Looking for your ideal job? Check out our vacancies and get in touch today for more information.