Job interviews are always stressful (unless you are the offspring of the firm’s chairperson or CEO), and the stress level doubles when you meet an uncooperative interviewer. You know, the hostile types that are either sulky and trying to pierce through your heart with a cold stare or argumentative and bashing you endlessly and relentlessly.
Is there a "sure" way of dealing with such tough interviewers? I’m afraid not. For one, you don’t know why the person is acting in a hostile way toward you. It may be because he’s a jerk by nature, or may be because he’s having a really bad day at work (or at home). It could be that he doesn’t like you because of your ethnicity or sexual orientation or small eyes or bad breath, or it could be that he thinks lowly of your qualifications as a future quant. Or, it could be all acting: he’s simply acting hostile because he wants to test your ability to deal with such a situation.
In my own firsthand experience as an interviewee I’ve met many such difficult interviewers. Often, I feel the temptation to stand up, stick a middle finger in the person’s face, and tell him to go home and f*** his dog. But, alas, I would not advise such a rebellious act! (unless the person is insulting your ethnic or religious background, in which case you might want to stand up for yourself!) First, that would be totally unprofessional — and a job interview is no place to employ an eye-for-eye tactic. Second, doing that would surely ruin your chances with the group, and possibly with other firms as poorly-behaved interviewees (but not badly-behaved interviewers) become notorious on the Street quickly. Third, if you start acting violently (even if in response to a perceived violent interviewer) you might get arrested — since you’re on someone else’s private premise. The list of reasons goes on. Hey, it’s only a job interview.
If you really can’t take the heat from a mean interviewer, you should (1) think about whether you want to work with that guy or on his team, (2) think about whether you want to enter the profession of finance at all — lots and lots of people in finance are nasty people, and (3) just get up and leave — and, when you get home, call the recruiter or manager and complain about the person’s unprofessional behavior (be sure to provide specific examples).