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What's your experience with "tactical" stress situations during the interview?

Anonymous A

Hi everyone! I have heard from friends that some interviewers tend to test how candidates deal with stressful situations by e.g. tactically being rude, exiting the room etc. What is your experience with that? I am getting well at solving case studies but I am nervous about those kind of "traps" that can throw me off track, so I would like to know what I can expect. Thanks in advance for any answers!

Francesco replied on 05/09/2017
Ex BCG | MBB Specialist | #1 Expert for meetings done (800+) and recommendation rate (100%)

Hi Anonymous,

I got a stress interview during my final with BCG; basically, the interviewer presented two market sizing and one brainteaser in a row, and continuously challenged all my assumptions in a pretty rude way, trying to put me off balance (questions such as “Why are you making such a silly hypothesis”).

The best thing to do in such situations is (i) be conscious that they are doing that on purpose to see how you react, and that they are not really challenging you personally, and (ii) prepare a standard diplomatic answer that you can use in such a situation.

As a concrete example, let’s say you get indeed a “Why are you making such a silly hypothesis” reaction.

  1. First, mentally realize it is done on purpose (since it is TOO rude, it is clearly done to test you); this first step is very important to sound confident in your answer.
  2. Second, have ready a diplomatic answer. One that could work well is “Well, let me review the whole situation, I would be happy to update my hypothesis with something more appropriate”.

An add-on benefit would be to keep smiling during the interview; this will increase your perception as a confident interviewee.

Some argues why interviewers have actually to act in this way; the reason is that clients may actually be rude sometimes, and interviewers want to check if you are able to keep confident in such situations. It may be arguable whether such a test makes actually sense, however, since you may receive these questions 10-20% of the times in an interview, it is better to be prepared for that anyway.

Best,

Francesco

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