MBA Preparation: What are stress interviews and how to tackle them

Stress interviews are perhaps an MBA candidate’s worst nightmare. It comes in myriad forms – ranging from moderately offensive to downright brutal. Ever since the GDPI rounds have started across all MBA colleges in the country, PaGaLGuY users and MBA candidates have been discussing their stress interview experiences. But what is exactly a stress interview?

Stress interviews are described as a setting where the interviewee, in this case, the MBA candidate, is put through immense psychological pressure to assess how does he/she perform under stress.

PaGaLGuY approached several MBA aspirants to find out if they were made to undergo stress interviews so far. Elaborating on his experience, 24-year-old student Ayush, said, “I faced stress interviews at both Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS) and Symbiosis Center for Management and Human Resource Development (SCMHRD). I was countered at every step. For instance, in the NMIMS interview, when I was in the midst of explaining why I wanted to join the institute, I was stopped midway and was told to join Chetana College of Management or Jamnalal Bajaj Institute Of Management Studies (JBIMS) instead.

Rea D, who had her Indian Institute of Management, Indore (IIM-I) interview recently, is confused about the way her interview went. “I’m not sure if I should call it a stress interview. The panellists were hostile and aggressive throughout the interview, and it definitely did not seem pleasant,” she said.
PaGaLGuY user, by the username @baddybatman was too extremely distressed with the manner in which his IIM Calcutta interview was conducted. “No questions on academics, work experience, or current affairs was asked. I was only asked why I wanted to do MBA, following which they continued to grill me for 25 minutes. They were clearly making a point that I wasn’t sure why I wanted to do MBA and that I wouldn’t be admitted in the college,” he said.
Are all of the aforementioned experiences, instances of stress interviews?
MBA expert and GDPI panellist in several MBA colleges, Prof Sidharth Balakrishna is of the opinion that students, more often than not, are unaware of what counts as a stress interview. “Very often, I ask my students if they’ve had a stress interview and after probing a little, I come to know that they were asked four or five questions to which they had no answers and therefore felt it was a stress interview. Let me tell you that doesn’t account for one,” he said.
After speaking to a couple of students, he observed that they perceive it to be a stress interview when they are not allowed to complete an answer and are asked a question even before they finish. “I would like to tell students to not bother too much about it. It could be that the panel members are checking if you’ll have prepared well. Perhaps they want you to answer a particular question and once you’ve done that in as many words as possible, they want to move on to the next question,” he said.
Additionally, he mentioned that candidates on some occasion, accuse panellists of being rude and aggressive in their approach with them. “In this case, my advice to students would be to not lose your patience and composure. The panel members want to judge if you are able to handle difficult situations in a calm and composed manner. Do not get stressed out. If anyone has spoken to you in a slightly aggressive manner that does not mean you get provoked. Be calm and answer the question,” he said. He added that if a candidate is being asked two-three questions at the same time then he/she must state that he/she would like to answer the first question and then move on to the others. “Once again, the main point is to make sure that you don’t lose your cool and do not feel that just because you have been cut short, the panellists are deliberately trying to give you a tough time,” he concluded.