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Stress interviews: How far is too far?



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Putting candidates through stress interviews to see how they react under pressure is nothing new in the recruitment landscape. While one of the major goals of a stress interview is to intimidate candidates, some HR practitioners might have taken things too far, making the candidate feel they are being disrespected.

Below is an exchange between a HR professional and a fresh graduate shared recently on Hong Kong Discussion Group.

The interviewer thinks the young candidate lacks the ability to handle pressure, while the candidate felt he was being insulted throughout the interview.

HR: February is almost coming to an end, why do you still not have a job?
Candidate: I have no working experience so it is hard for me to find a full-time job.

HR: It has been more than six months since you left school. What is taking you so long?
Candidate: Many jobs require experience. I am working part-time at the moment to try to gain more experience.

HR: Other fresh graduates also have no experience. How come they can find a job but you can’t? Do you think you have other problems besides the lack of experience?

No response from candidate.

HR: Why did you graduate at 24 years old? Most people graduate at 21 or 22.
Candidate: I studied an associate degree before going to university.

HR: Everyone attends university after they finish high school. Why did you need to study an associate degree first?
Candidate: My DSE scores were not good enough, so I studied an associate degree.

HR: So you are saying you have bad academic results? I don’t think you qualify as a university graduate.
Candidate: I have the GPA scores to prove that I am a university graduate.

HR: Your GPA is 2.6.  Most candidates get above 3 or even close to 4. How dare you think you qualify as a university graduate? You are 24 years old and still have no idea of what you want to do with you life. How can I offer you a job?

Candidate: Enough! If you don’t want to give me a job, don’t bother. I am here to interview for a job, not to be abused by you. If you want to abuse someone, turn to your subordinates.

HR: Don’t you get it? This is a stress interview. I am testing your EQ and techniques of answering tough questions.

Candidate: Don’t use the concept of a stress interview as an excuse to insult me. I can tell the difference. Don’t waste my time if you have no intention of offering me a job. I will show myself out.

The HR professional felt that the candidate showed a low IQ and EQ and said it represents a worrying trend. She insisted on testing the candidate’s EQ because he had not been working for long. But others in the discussion group questioned whether it is appropriate to put a candidate through a stress interview during the first stage of a recruitment process.

Some netizens simply found the HR practitioner was being harsh on young people. Another case of harsh judgement coming from a HR professional was recently shared on CityU Secrets. In the post shared by a student whose mother works in HR, the mother advised employers to look out for job applicants born in the ’90s living in Tuen Mun.

“My mother is a veteran HR practitioner who has seen countless profiles. She advised me to keep my distance from young people from Tuen Mun because they are second class citizens. They live far away from the city centre, have little interaction with society, lead a boring life, their minds are limited, and they have low expectations for themselves,” the post read.

Are these HR professionals taking things too far? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

ALSO READ: Read how this Hong Kong HR professional humiliated a candidate

Photo/ 123RF

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