Basing on my previous question and one comment in it, I would like to ask another one:

Let's assume I had a bad interview. It was a typical stress interview as if the interviewers were following these guidelines:

Some stressful situations examples include sighing or interrupting candidates while they are talking. Or, you might act aloof by not paying attention to the candidate. Another strategy is repeating the same question multiple times to compare the candidate’s answers or see if they begin getting frustrated. Some interviewers ask obscure questions about random topics they don’t expect candidates to know the answers to.

You can also convey a stressful environment through your body language. For example, you might refuse to shake the candidate’s hand or avoid making eye contact.


The interviewers interrupted me, put facts from my CV into question, were more interested in their cell phones than in me.

Does it automatically mean the company is a toxic place to work in or is it an acceptable way to check how candidates react to stress, which tells nothing about the company culture?

It's not a question about opinions. Media reported last week about research that shows brainteasers tell nothing about candidates' skills but a lot about people's asking them having narcissistic tendencies. That's why I'm curious whether a similar relationship can be concluded for stress interviews (brainteasers are sometimes part of stress interviews of course) and the fact that a company employs this strategy is a warning sign about its culture.


2 Answers 2


The interviewers interrupted me, pull facts from my CV into their question, were more interested in their cell phones than in me.

I think of interviews as a two way street. The company is interviewing the candidate, but the candidate is also interviewing the company. A company could put the candidate into a stressful situation to see how they would react. But playing on your phone, or interrupting the candidate is just rudeness, not a stress test. I see rudeness from interviewers are a poor reflection of the company culture and will evaluate those opportunity lower than others.

  • 4
    "Stress" interviews for engineering tends to have an interview panel and a person who just grills you on every aspect of your design. But the interviewers want you to back up your claims and stand your ground when it makes sense. The interviewer aren't disrespectful, but they are asking you tough questions and putting you on the spot.
    – jcmack
    Commented Sep 20, 2018 at 22:25
  • I've definitely had the latter kind of tough technical grilling interview. I agree that's generally okay, there's definitely a difference between someone being terse and someone being outright rude and you are spot on about the interview being a two-way thing. If the interviewee was playing on their phone during the interview they'd be an automatic fail, so if the interviewer is doing the same, I'd look very poorly on that company. I guess it might depend on the kind of role and what the candidate is being tested on.
    – delinear
    Commented Sep 21, 2018 at 8:50
  • @jcmack, yes, a proper panel interview certainly can be stressful (in a good way), but the advice cited by the OP calls for deliberate displays of behaviors like eye-rolling, sighs, and feigned disinterest. Such tactics won't work unless one is screening for desperate candidates that are willing to put up with hostile environment. If one wants to hire like the Trump administration, that is the way to go!
    – teego1967
    Commented Sep 21, 2018 at 12:54
  • Or interviewing for a position where you may encounter that. Like with customers, you know. In senior positions I expect a significant amount of stress resistance - customers and junior developers can wear you down otherwise.
    – TomTom
    Commented Sep 21, 2018 at 16:39

If they deem it fit to test for it during an early(?) interview stage, it could mean their normal day to day work is like that. Then it is up to you to decide whether you mind such a working culture.

It is not necessarily a sign of a toxic workplace per se, as stress could simply be the nature of their domain, eg. strict deadlines and fluctuating state in stock exchange.

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