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We provide competency-based behavioral interviewing training for interview teams including hiring managers, recruiters, and interviewers. We have been publishing articles for over 40 years to address the myriad of issues encountered in the process of hiring top talent.

Why Stress Interviews Don't Work


stressful interview situation that does not predict success

Unfortunately, there are still companies that put prospective employees through pressure-cooker interviews - the kind where the poor candidate has thirty minutes to answer thirty unanswerable questions. The theory is that people who can handle stress in an interview can handle stress on the job. The problem is, the theory is wrong. There is absolutely no evidence that the ability to deal with a stressful interview situation is an accurate predictor of the ability to deal with job stress. In fact, the opposite may be true.

For one thing, candidates are more likely to share information when they feel relaxed and comfortable. The confrontational nature of a stress interview tends to make people guarded and defensive, and prevents interviewers from seeing the real person and his competencies.

Stress interviews are also bad for public relations. Whether you hire them or not, candidates with a poor impression of your company are likely to spread the word. This can affect your ability to recruit top candidates in the future.

Then there is the Rule of the Three Cs, which points out just how detrimental to future company relationships even one bad interview experience can be. If a disgruntled candidate becomes a co-worker, any working relationship with the interviewer is likely to be strained. On the other hand, an unhappy candidate who goes to work for one of the offending firm's customers may be able to negatively influence their business relationship. And if he happens to be hired by a rival company, watch out. Using scare tactics is only one of the strategies he might use to keep potential hires away from the competition.

The bottom line is that stress interviews aren't effective; they're not good for candidates; and in the long run, they're not good for business either.