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How to Handle a Stress Interview during MBA Admissions?

Updated: Jul 8, 2020

You never know which interview of yours may turn out to be a stress interview. My IIM Ahmedabad interview was a stress interview for a while in-between.

How do you ace a stress interview?

In order to handle it, you first need to identify when the interviewer is trying to switch to a stress mode. It really helps to build the peace of mind required at that time.

How can you identify a stress interview?

When the interviewer starts asking you questions, which reveal his judgement about you, it is safe to assume that it is a stress interview. For example, I was asked, “Do you even remember the economics that was taught to you at your college or is it too old a story for you to remember?” Then, there was another statement like, “You’re so confused, tell me the final answer quickly”.

Now, the reason why a candidate may get bogged down by such statements is that it creates self-doubt. One may wonder if what he/she is saying is being judged wrongly by the interviewer based on the remarks that are being shared.

Here are some tips to deal with this:

  1. First of all, understand that the interviewer doesn’t hold anything personal against you. Stress interviews are often taken to see how the candidate will react to situations that he/she may encounter at his/her workplace.

  2. When you reckon that the interviewer is intentionally asking you stressful questions, don’t forget to put on a smile. It is a sign of being present in the moment and hinting to the interviewer that you know what’s going on.

  3. Never react in a vehement manner to any of the statements that are being made. If you don’t agree with something or are totally against it, be respectful while putting forth your arguments.

  4. There is no need to be unnecessarily sweet and agree to everything the interviewer says. There will be statements made to prove that you’re wrong, even when you’re not. Learn to defend yourself without hurting the other.

  5. Now, there may come a point when you feel like the spiral of questions is never-ending and is not leading you anywhere. Don’t worry, it is meant to be that way. You’re not being evaluated on the quality of your answers, instead, it is your mannerism that is being judged.

  6. Being confident is one tip that goes without saying. Don’t let self-doubt creep in. Know when you’re right and acknowledge when you make a mistake, that can very well happen in a stress interview.

  7. If you don’t know an answer or are not sure of it, put it across truthfully. The last thing you’d want to do is to bluff about your confidence level.


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