Mastering Stress Interviews: Strategies to Conquer Challenging Job Interviews

Men being stressed during an interview

All students who have attended multiple job interviews have come across inquiries like "Can you give me an account of your weaknesses?" or "What sets you apart from other candidates?" Answering these questions can be quite demanding, and it's natural to feel uneasy and stressed about them. It may appear that the interviewers are intentionally trying to make the process challenging. If you have encountered such questions, then you have likely faced a "stress interview."

In fact, stress interviews have been around for a long time and are commonly used by interviewers to assess the authenticity of a candidate's experience, their ability to handle stress, and their ability to think on their feet. These interviews can be encountered in most job interviews and can be challenging, however there are ways to prepare for them.

Common Types of Stress Interview Situations

Persistent Questioning Till You Can’t Answer

During an interview, candidates might share their accomplishments from previous experiences. The interviewer may then ask for more specific details regarding these achievements. 

For instance, if a candidate mentions writing several articles that were successful, the interviewer might inquire about the number of articles written, the number of shares, likes, comments, followers gained, and conversions it led to. These questions are designed to gain a deeper understanding of the candidate's achievements.

Seemingly Finding Fault in Your Achievements

If a candidate is changing industries, interviewers might say, "Your previous roles were in a different industry, so your experience might not be relevant to us. Do you think you can handle this job?" Or they might express doubt: "Based on your current experience, I believe this role might be challenging for you. What do you think?"

Directly pointing out weaknesses in your resume or interview performance:

For instance, if a candidate self-assesses as good at communication and strong in logical reasoning, an interviewer might say, "I noticed that during this interview, your communication skills were only average. You stumbled through your answers. You don't seem to have good communication skills." Or they might say, "Your logical thinking was unclear, and your answers were somewhat disorganized."


Using abstract questions or time constraints to create pressure:

Questions like, "If your boss rates your performance lower than expected, how would you react?" or "Summarize your performance in this interview in one minute." These questions aim to see how well you handle abstract or time-constrained scenarios.

Handling Stress Interviews

Women trying to relax before an interview

In a stress interview, it's essential to:

  • Deeply understand your experiences: Thoroughly review your key experiences, especially the numbers, results, and specific actions taken. This helps you answer probing questions confidently.

  • Be honest about weaknesses: If asked about your weaknesses, be honest about them but ensure they are not critical to the job role. Also, show your commitment to improving these weaknesses.

  • Explain why you are the best fit: Instead of generic responses, focus on your long-term career goals, unique experiences, or niche skills that set you apart from other candidates.

  • Maintain composure: Don't let your emotions get the better of you during a stress interview. Stay calm, think before responding, and manage your facial expressions and tone.

Understanding that stress interviews are a way to gauge your preparedness and resilience can help you navigate them more effectively. With thoughtful preparation and the right mindset, you can handle these interviews and leave a positive impression on the interviewers.

Stress interviews can be daunting, but they are a common part of the job interview process. They are designed to assess your ability to handle pressure and stay calm in challenging situations. While they can be intimidating, it's important to remember that they are not intended to be malicious or personal. Recruitery wishes you the best in your interviews and remember to stay calm and cool no matter what happens! Cheers!