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I know what you are thinking right now: Aren’t all interviews stress interviews? I would agree most interviews are stressful, but there is a type of interview that is specifically designed to be stressful—a stress interview. These are interviews that are set up to put you under stress and see how you handle the pressure. I am not a fan of this type of interview but have seen it used successfully. Here are a few tips that will help you if you get invited to a stress interview. Plus, these ideas will work in any interview setting.
First, relax! I know it is much easier said than done. It is possible, though. You just have to take control of your breathing and your body will follow. I recommend the 7-11 method of relaxing. The 7-11 method is a wonderful technique that can be used anytime you are feeling out of control. All you do is breathe in to the count of seven and breathe out to the count of eleven.
As a side note: I don’t recommend doing this in the middle of your interview, but it is a great way to calm yourself prior to entering the interview. It is a short and easy way to relax. Go ahead and try it now and see how it feels. It is an instant tool to calm you down. There is also a modified version you can use during the interview. Sit up straight and calmly, and take in a deep breath in for one count and out for one count. I know it feels a little weird, but as you practice you will get more comfortable with it.
The second approach to getting you through a stress interview is to be yourself. If you are the right fit, then they will hire you just as you are. Don’t try to be someone else. It is tempting to try to be perfect and say and do all the right things. Chances are, that won’t happen, so go ahead and let yourself off the hook and just be you.
For example, if you don’t know the answer to a question, it is okay to pause and think about it. You can even say something like, “Wow, that is a good question. I haven’t thought about that. Can you give me a minute?” I promise the interviewer will give you a minute and might actually appreciate the compliment of their question. Give the best answer you can think of at the time. You might also be tempted to exaggerate a situation to make yourself look better. You should try to resist this temptation. You don’t have to be perfect; you just have to be you.
The final tip to help you deal with a stress interview is to be prepared before you go in. You should have already done your homework on the job and the company. It is a natural way to be more confident because you know you have prepared yourself.
One of my clients was a master at this. He always researched the company and the job in detail. He took the ad and reviewed the key points they brought up and came up with examples of how he met that criteria. He was never caught off guard. He also took the time to research the company on the Internet, as well as try to find people he knew that worked there. He would search his LinkedIn account to see if any of his connections or their connections knew anything about the company or who would be interviewing him. The extra time he spent on research gave him confidence, as well as a good idea of if the job was a right for him. So take some time and find out what you can about each company and role.
If you find yourself in a stress interview, take some time to relax, be yourself, and research the company and job. You will come through the experience feeling strong and confident.