Interview stress tests involve purposely creating tension to see how the candidates respond. These may include:
- focusing on the candidate's negatives
- creating uncomfortable silences
- challenging correct facts
- confrontational arguments
The personal qualities that these environments test in candidates are obviously important for customer-facing roles. For example, they can tell you how well the person can keep their cool with unreasonable clients.
However, both my colleagues and I have experienced this style of interviewing for purely technical roles. At the time I have written it off as "company with terrible culture" or "managers not knowing what they're doing". Recently a colleague of mine had an interview like that, and I have been wondering as to the motivations behind these interviews.
Are there any valid reasons to perform this style of interviews for technical positions? If so, what are they, and in what cases are they worthwhile?
I am not asking whether we should be interested in candidate's ability to perform under stressful situations. I'm asking whether this style of interviews is really effective to gauge that, and whether it is worth the drawbacks.
Example of a drawback: let's say you go to two interviews of similar roles in similar companies. In one place you get an interview like that described. In the second you get a straight up guy/gal that tells you how they do things, what they expect, and has a 'constructive' back and forth about your qualifications. Why would talented people ever want to work for the former?
Second example of a drawback: Smart people know that you're doing this on purpose, but they may not know your motives. This is a false proxy for real situations. Handling a real difficult client/manager when working and handling a difficult recruiter when interviewing are two very different things.