Group interviews can be quite intimidating especially if you are a little more reserved in a group setting. It’s hard enough to come across as confident and articulate in a one on one interview let alone in a group setting when all your key competitors are right next to you. Like everything else, success will depend on how well prepared you are for the group interview dynamic. Let’s start by taking a look at when the group interview is most used.
When Should I Expect a Group Interview
A group interview is more common in some industries and in particular for some specific types of roles. That said, you could find yourself in a group interview at anytime, so it’s always best to clarify what type of interview you will be having up front. Group interviews are common in:
- The Retail industry, especially when more than one position requires filling
- For Cadetship, internship or graduate level positions across any industry
- Highly stressful roles which require people to think on their feet
- Roles which require a lot of effective team work
- For customer service roles, especially when more than one position requires filling
Group Interview Preparation
Like every other type of interview, the group interview needs preparation. The preparation is really no different to what you would do for any potential role. You must ensure you:
- Research the company and it’s competitors
- Find out everything you can about the person or people who will be interviewing you
- Prepare answers to behavioural interview questions by using the STAR technique
- Have a list of good questions to ask
What to Expect in a Group Interview:
A group interview may be run a number of different ways depending on what the company is looking to asses. As a general rule, in addition to leadership skills and individual confidence you can be sure your problem solving, communication and teamwork skills are going to be closely scrutinized. Pay particular attention to these as you develop your answers for any group interview. A group interview will typically flow as follows:
1. Introductory Speech or Presentation
This is not the time to zone out or check out the other applicants. Pay attention to what is being said, there is a very good chance the information will be followed up in the interview. You could well be asked a direct question about the information presented. If not use what you learn here to adjust your interview answers to make you appear perfect for the role.
2. Group Activity or Task
Employers will often give the group a task, activity or small presentation to work on as a group then come back and present their results to the interviewers. They are looking to see how you interact in a group setting, who leads, who facilitates, who communicates well, who is able to listen well to others etc…Be mindful of your behavior, it’s being assessed even more closely than the project result.
3. Group Questions
If a group task was given, there will be follow up questions afterwards about the task, the team dynamic and examples of other projects you have worked on as well. If there is no group task then then it is likely they will launch straight into group questions following the introduction.
Acing the group Interview:
In order to ace the group interview you need to achieve the following:
1. Start Strong
Introduce yourself to everyone including all the other candidates and try and learn one or two things about each one. Imagine it is a networking event, work the room and show off your interpersonal skills.
- Memorize as many names as possible, write down the names of the interviewers if there are more than one or two.
- Be prepared to answer an opening like – Tell us a little bit about yourself. Have a 30 second pitch prepared and deliver it confidently.
- Be prepared to answer questions about why you want to work there and why should they hire you.
2. Facilitate Well
Off course employers are looking to see who who emerges as a natural leader within the group but they are also looking out for who is aggressive and obnoxious and should be immediately discounted. Be careful not to come across too strong.
Take on the role of the facilitator of possible. Ensure everyone has a chance to speak, listen when others are speaking, do not interrupt anyone who is answering a question.
If the first question is asked of the whole group don’t be afraid to volunteer to answer first, but then make sure you allow others to follow.
Don’t try to please everyone, it’s ok to have your own opinion as long as you provide it politely.
Keep your answers succinct. Focus more on your skills and how they make you perfect for the role rather than a step by step description of your job tasks.
3. Leave on a High
Always take a minute to shake hands and thank the interviewers at the end of the group interview. You will be surprised how many people just say a casual thank you and leave the room. Take the time to walk over, shake their hands and thank them. You leave a much better last impression that way.
4. Follow Up
Always follow up after the interview as you normally would for any job interview. Send a thank you note to every one who interviewed you.
The key to the group interview is to always be aware of the fact that your behavior and not just your answers are being monitored carefully. Prepare as you would for any interview then focus on your body language, interpersonal skills and listening skills to make sure you come across as the perfect candidate.