Sureshot Tips for Succeeding in Stress Interviews

Handling Stress Interviews

Business school interviews come in all flavors. They range from the formal Q&A session to the candid discussion on a shared topic of interest to a escalating debate on a burning issue right to an all out stress interview. The last type is the toughest to handle since the goal of a stress interview is to first stress you out and then evaluate your ability to handle and excel in stressful situations. This article guides you through the process and identifying and successfully handling a stress interview.

Identifying a Stress Interview

Business school, especially IIM interviewers usually don’t plan to take a stress interview beforehand, but may jump it to it at any point during the interview. They may start a stress interview when either you answer something that annoys the interviewer (these are the toughest to handle) or an interviewer decides to stress you out (which is an easier situation to handle). In each scenario, the interviewer will try to stress you out by appearing angry, trying to put you down or outright attacking your answer to his question. This barrage will continue for either a short while or in some cases for the entire length of the interview. Once you recognize that this is turning out to be a stress interview, use the below tips to ace the interview.

Keys to Succeeding in a Stress Interview

Stay Calm

At any point during an interview do not lose your cool. If you end up get showing your anger, consider the interview finished.Twitter Remember it’s the interviewer who has the upper hand here – they are assessing you and not the other way around.

Be Objective

During stress interviews, your interviewer will try to intimidate you or temp you to make opinion-based statements. You should avoid falling into that trap and keep your answers fact and reason-based.

Be Consistent

There may be a possibility that the interviewers may try to confuse you. Ensure that you don’t get confused, each of your answers should be logical and matching with your stand on the issue. Don’t end up contradicting yourself.

Be Assertive

If you are confident of your answers, then be politely assertive. This usually happens when you have enough data or anecdotal experience on the topic. Remember, the interviewers objective is to stress you out and shake your confidence. You should stand firm and politely keep re-stating the facts and the analytical reasoning to arrive at the answer.

Accept your Mistake Gracefully

It is possible that the stress interview started because something in your answer annoyed the interviewer or that in the course of the stress interview you gave out an incorrect answer. Don’t worry, everyone makes mistakes. The key is to acknowledge the mistake and course correct with dignity. A very good way of doing this is – “Sir, I see your point. My earlier answer had not taken this into consideration and I would like to refine the answer to be….”

Finishing the Interview

In come cases, the interviewer will acknowledge at the end of the interview that this was a stress interview. In most cases however, the interviewer will not tell you that it was a stress interview. At any cost maintain your composure till the time you exit the door of the interview room. Don’t forget to say ‘Thank You’ with a smile. The interviewers want to see that you are a leader who can handle success and stress equally well.Twitter Do not show anger or disappointment.

Once you are out of the interview room, don’t worry – almost 20% of all interviews at IIMs are stress interviews. Your chances of making it through and getting that coveted admission are still good. Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below.

If you need practice for stress interviews, you can purchase our Mock Interview service and specifically request for a stress inerview. You should also read up on answering the tricky “Which IIM will you chose” question, or then the standard “Tell me about yourself” and “Why do you want to do an MBA” questions. Continue reading more at

One thought on “Sureshot Tips for Succeeding in Stress Interviews

  1. TMS

    This was a really insightful article. Thanks for sharing the information. It indeed is true that many a time interviewers get irritated or may feel slighted on hearing interviewees’ perfectly natural replies. At such times, we should just maintain our calm and not let the pressure get to us. It is like a batsman seeing off a tough bowling spell from an inspired bowler. As is always the case, it is “survival of the fittest”.


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