Throughout your working career you are going to be a part of groups. You will be called to meetings (groups), you will work in teams (group), you will be part of a department (group); you will be in groups all throughout your professional life.
Your personality plays a large part in the role you take within that group. Shy people tend to take a more submissive role. Loud, obnoxious people tend to take on a leadership role. Depending on your personality, your role in the group differs. Most likely you know what role you play already. When you hang out with a random assortment of friends, are you the one doing most of the talking and leading? Are you more submissive? These traits carry over into all aspects of your life.
Question – What Role Do You Play in a Group?
This is a straight challenge question. The interviewer is trying to see how much confidence you have in yourself. Below are a sample of bad, mediocre, and good answers to this type of question.
“My preference is to be more of a follower. I like to let others take on a leadership role and prefer to be given direction rather than giving others direction.”
Obviously you never want to be seen as weak or a follower. This is clearly the wrong answer.
“Whenever I am in a group, I immediately take on a leadership role. I try to listen to the opinions of others and try to guide the group towards the ultimate objective.”
To sell this answer, you must already seem like a leader. If you have let the interviewer lead discussion and have not come out as a powerful voice during the interview, this is going to seem like a BS answer. Telling the interviewer that you are the leader is a good answer, but you need to sell it, and most people won’t.
“My role in the group is often mediator. I try to facilitate discussion, interjecting my own thoughts when necessary. Mediator allows me to adapt to a leadership or subordinate role depending on the project, tasks, and needs of the group.”
This is a much better answer. Mediators are a silent leader. They help all members of a group communicate and ultimately make the final decision despite not necessarily acting as a leader within the team. This is a far more believable answer and one that is unlikely to appear like pandering as you would with the mediocre answer.
Answering Questions That Have too Obvious an Answer
“What role do you play in a group” is an interview question with an answer that is too obvious. Employers want leaders, so it would make sense to simply answer the question by saying you are a group leader. However, your job interview performance must be able to back up that answer, and that is difficult since you are not in a position of leadership during the interview. Answers such as “mediator” are more believable and sound much less like pandering to the interviewer.
Take Away Interview Tips
- Look for less obvious answers when the best answer is too obvious.
- How to Stand Out in a Group Interview
- Interview Question: What Was Your Role in [Project Name]?
- Management Interview Question: Why Do You Feel You Will Be Comfortable in a Supervisor Role?
- Interview Question: What One Word or Phrase Would You Use to Describe Your Role at Your Previous Jobs?
- Common Interview Question – How Do You Handle Repetitive Tasks?