The NYC restaurant industry is intense. Shifts are long, orders are complicated, and workers can get caught up in the rush if they aren’t prepared. For this reason, restaurant managers are constantly looking to recruit waiters and cooks who are able to work well under pressure. But what is the best way to gauge how an employee is likely to perform when the stakes are high?

What Are Stress Interviews?

Stress interviews, interviews that aim to gauge how an employee will react to stress and discomfort, are one way for employers to see how applicants will fare under pressure. However, as one woman’s experience shows, stress interviews just may cost a business its strongest applicant.

When Olivia Bland was interviewed for a new position at a software company, she was shocked by the behavior of their CEO. After two hours of interviewing, she returned home crying and upset about her experience with the company. To her surprise, she was ultimately offered the job. To the CEO’s surprise, she declined their offer. 

As bland explained in a post on her Twitter, she was “very aware of what [they were] trying to do and what he was trying to get out of [her],” adding that,”There is something very off to me about a man who tries his best to intimidate and assert power over a young woman, who continues to push even when he can see that he’s making somebody uncomfortable to the point of tears.”

What the company had seen as a challenging interview to test applicants in a high-stress environment was seen as a bullying tactic by their top applicant. In the end, it cost them her talent.

If restaurant managers want to see how an applicant might work in a high-stress environment, our hiring experts suggest asking situational questions based on real employee experiences. While stress interviews put individuals on the defensive, these open-ended questions allow them to show off their creative problem-solving skills. 

Restaurants naturally want to get to know their applicants, but the best way to determine an interviewee’s fit is by matching the climate of the interview to the actual workplace culture. When it comes to seeing how an applicant manages stress, managers shouldn’t worry about taking any extra steps — interviews are stressful enough without the tactics.