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The Stress Busters

posted Oct 14, 2009, 11:11 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Feb 7, 2012, 4:13 AM by Vijay Balaji ]

Recently I was judging a stress interview for a college fest. It was the finals of the best manager contest and five very deserving candidates were there competing to win a laptop. I was one among three judges and we all had a glimpse of their resume and their scores in the elimination round. I did not want to have any bias before this round and hence consciously did not go deep in to the details. All I knew was that these five are from fifteen aspirants and had been through five rigorous elimination rounds which tested their aptitude, knowledge and similar. It is also obvious that they had knowledge of what a stress interview means, as no college fest of the present is without them.

Stress interviews are actually a sadistic exercise which exhibits a ridiculing or mental torturing of candidate in front of so many especially when it is a stage event. The actual said purpose is to test and measure the candidate’s ability to face and respond to stressful situations, which is very essential for a good manager.

Stressful situations in reality come uncalled for and at moments least expected and hence perhaps one flaw in the format in the missing of that element of surprise. How would you unsettle a mind which has come prepared to face attempts to unsettle?

Even the best minds wilt when pressure and hence it isn’t that we look for some god who would be ice to all stress. What makes one succumb- surprise? Insult?  Anger? Unpreparedness?  Ego? Or is it a combination of this? It isn’t very difficult to unsettle someone, but to gauge his reaction to it isn’t too simple! One should understand that here is a prepared person in front of you knowing well that you are going to be mean.  In fact it is this which makes me argue that most of the hr interviews of today lack the purpose it is meant for but actually tests one’s preparedness for it. So many hr folks make a business by preparing candidates for likely questions and best answers and most of them hear it very often as everyone now has access to these.

How do people perform after their very good performance in stress interview or the opposite will be an interesting study to prove or disprove this practice. Especially since it is now used as the most deciding factor in choosing who is a potential good manager among budding managers!

Stress interviews are many times harsh for unfortunately they bring out the best results proportionate to the harshness! One needs to see the adrenaline gushing to witness the capacity to hold on or failure to do so. Provocation hence need to be there and intense. When candidates sit in front of a crowd then the insult and anger multiplies too. The ego may take precedence and the purpose may take back seat which might result in some ugly conversations. There are instances we hear where candidates performed well in interviews and were offered jobs but they refused to accept the offer because they did not want to work for such rude people!  But then what is a stress interview where a judge is more worried about his reputation and hence becomes goodie goodie!

Research proves increase in blood pressure levels as a direct consequence of stress interview. Now how the body responds after a BP

increase becomes visible while the interview is in process. The most important excuse given for such an interview is that the workplace demands an ability to handle stress of all kinds. The workplace is full of tensions, egos and turmoil and one need to maintain composure and solve problems. Hence managers are required to be emotionally stable and in control.

Stress is not equal for all human beings and what can cause stress for one may be enjoyable for the other. For example a roller coaster ride will bring the sweat out in some while others may enjoy it as a ride.  An ugly looking person may infuriate some while others may look at him with empathy and understanding. When a person insults, obviously ego will prompt retaliation, while actually measured and timely response has always been more effective.

“If someone insults u, don't get angry. Try to understand, he/she needs help not u! Just perform ur duty.” - Mahatma Gandhi

Stress is very personal and what is the best reaction is also subjective to an extent, since it would depend on the environment and situations.But there is no doubt that stress is increasing and most agree that it needs to be dealt with in proper manner for a successful management of any event or people. For example a TV anchor will be bombarded by news continuously with various distractions, pressures and pulls. They also have to face criticisms and even abuses and hence one needs extreme good quality of mind to cope and perform better than the rivals.

What would be the best way to cope with stress or shine in a stress interview? A smile and unsettling the motivated questioner! Simply agree to what they say and keep smiling. Crack a joke and make them laugh. Get the audience to play alongside you. Unsettling the questioner needs to be done without him/her realizing it for if one infuriates them they are bound to come back heavily on you. As one rightly said, it isn’t necessary to defeat someone but what is actually necessary is to win them, by heart and composure. The game has to be played as it is supposed to be.

You can’t let someone stress me out, how dare he insult me, to hell with this contest, for me, my reputation is important-when someone’s mindset is one of the above he may choose to retort leading to verbal wrestling or a fest war. Many loose direction this way. But for the audience those who face these who are in charge and offensive seem to be brave and adorable. One need to carefully play on this in such a way that it works for the outcome and at the same time does not offend the investigators beyond a point of no control.

When a candidate appears for an interview, the outcome may be his priority and hence he may suffer what is in the process. For yet another the outcome may not be so important and could retaliate.  But if anyone who understands the purpose of the interview and also realizes that the people who are conducting it are doing to check how much one can control and react well and is not really mean otherwise, would easily cope with the situation and would treat the whole episode as a game and come on the top.

As humans we need stress to be motivated to grow. Stress is good and helps in growth. But one also needs to know how to keep everything within limits. One need not control anger but know how and when to vent it out. Those are the lessons on stress. Brave, cool and taking criticisms at your stride will help one bust any kind of stress.

1. Free stress test - Brainwave meditation 

2. How to deal with stress interviews

The following is a video of an interview with famous anchor barkha dutt. Look how her power dressing helps her get confidence to face a stress interview with elan

YouTube Video

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