5 tips for handling an MBA stress interview

In this article we shall appreciate the role of a stress interview in the selection process for admission to an MBA program, and the various tips to perform well in such a situation.
What is a stress interview?
  • It is a panel’s strategy to create unpredictable situations. Your management career will be replete with situations warranting precarious and uncertain dimensions creating enormous stress. It is here that your nerves need to hold the pressure to help you come out of the situation gracefully.
  • It is driven by an extreme level of action-reaction mechanism which is integral to an interview process. However, in a stress interview this action-reaction follows a quick sequence of events, with questions panning out in a rapid fire.
  • Questions are not usually designed to get specific answers. These are bouncers and the role they have is to shake you up before a functional question is asked.
Shiv Nadar University
Why does the evaluator put you through a stress interview?
  • To find out how well you manage unforeseen situations. This is a test of your impromptu thinking and your ability to manage stress off the feet.
  • To check poise and balance of personality. Since most of these questions are intended to ruffle you up, the treatment of the question defines the composure in your personality.
  • To simulate near real corporate situations which put your though stress every now and then.
How to manage a stress interview?
  • Breakdown Strategy : This strategy is applicable when you confront a question the answer to which you have not previously prepared. The following may be of help:-
    • Thinking off the feet and articulating it confidently.
    • Shifting the focus elsewhere where it is easy to hold the panel. For example, if they ask you the meaning of your name, you may give a quick input and then take them to a specific trait implied in your name. This, ofcourse, is highly situational and depends on the respective candidate.
    • Supporting inputs with examples/illustrations.
  • Preventive Strategy : This strategy comes into play much before the actual day of the interview. The following may be of help:-
    • Covering all aspects in advance, thus minimizing risk of facing unforeseen situations.
    • Analyzing past trends, which give you insights into the mind of the panel and enables you to create a set of probable questions.
    • Being aware of the program you are seeking admission to, which takes care of questions specifically crafted around program details.
    • Participating in practice sessions which help you to gauge your strengths/weaknesses and prepare on the need gap.
Applying EI to stress interviews
  • Emotional Intelligence (EI) is the management of the emotions of self and others so as to connect with the environment in a productive and positive manner.
  • Understanding the 5 components of EI:-
    • Self Awareness- the ability to recognize and understand personal moods and emotions and drives, as well as their effect on others.
    • Self Regulation- the ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses and moods, and the propensity to suspend judgment and to think before acting.
    • Internal Motivation-a passion to work for internal reasons that go beyond money and status -which are external rewards, such as an inner vision of what is important in life, a joy in doing something, curiosity in learning, a flow that comes with being immersed in an activity.
    • Empathy - The ability to understand the emotional makeup of other people. A skill in treating people according to their emotional reactions.
    • Social Skills- Proficiency in managing relationships and building networks, and an ability to find common ground and build rapport
Avoid the following
  • Do not try to add crude humour. You need to respect the formal dimension of the situation and act in a contextually correct manner.
  • Do not be dangerously judgmental as this may project you as an opinionated and biased person.
  • Do not overstate under pressure.
Test Site