The group interview is one in which you are interviewed together with other candidates. There is usually more than one interviewer during this process, but that’s not a hard and fast rule. It may well be that only one interviewer will be meeting with multiple candidates at the same time. Companies will use this type of interview to save time, when the job opening has a strong team work component, or when they have multiple openings and want to see how well the candidates can work together. In that regard, it is not uncommon for group interviews to have some team or group activities.
Your goal in a group interview, as in any interview, is to stand out as the top candidate. However, in the group interview, you need to do so while under the scrutiny of both the interviewers and your peers. Further, everything that you do or say will be contrasted with what others do or say, “live”. For instance, your answers will be contrasted with others, the tone of your voice, your appearance, your energy level, etc.
Preparing for a Group Interview
The basic steps for preparing for a group interview are the same as in any other interview:
- Research the company. Because you don’t know what to expect in a group interview, it is important to understand the company’s culture. Do they encourage creative, out-of-box solutions or are they conservative and use time-tested solutions? Leverage social media and see if you can find input from others working there or who have worked there.
- Study the job description. Understand what is expected in that particular position. Because group interviews are often used when multiple candidates will be hired, look specifically for those keywords that will give you a clue as to what team-based behaviors are being sought.
- Search for sample questions. Go on the internet and look for example questions based upon keywords from the job description and the company.
- Practice answering the sample questions. Practice with others or practice in front of a mirror. Make sure to closely watch your body language and facial reactions for anything that might be perceived as defensive or negative. You want to appear positive and confident.
- Have concrete examples of real-life work experience ready for discussion.
On the Day of the Interview
Expect a 2-3 hour interview with possible activities or group exercises, so don’t schedule another meeting too close to the interview. Also, since you may take part in some activities, be ready to interact with others.
In a group interview, the first impression is critical. You will be competing with other candidates from the minute you walk into the building, so make sure you look professional. Also, be polite, positive and self-confident as you interact with others.
Greet everyone who is going to be interviewing you and introduce yourself with confidence. As you will be meeting with many people, it is important that you try to remember everyone’s name. Work out ahead of time what your technique will be. One technique is to find a quick rhyming association to help you remember the interviewer’s name. For example, if you are introduced to Mary Smith and she is wearing a dark red blouse, you can remember the words “Mary/Cherry Red.” As the interview progresses, this will make it easier for you to remember her name and address her by her first name.
While you want to stand out, you don’t want to look threatening to other candidates. Do your best to impress the interviewers while making other candidates like you. If you can disarm the other candidates who are vying for the same position as you, you will have made your case as an effective team player. This is a fine line to walk and may depend on the personalities of the other candidates in the room, but the idea is to acknowledge everyone in the room. Collaboration is usually a key decision-point when figuring out who the final candidates will be and you want to show leadership without being aggressive or divisive.
Listen as others speak. Be careful not to minimize what the other candidates say. Instead, add to the conversation with positive input and with a view to better answering the questions asked.
Never, ever argue with another candidate and never, ever be rude to another candidate. You can disagree professionally and courteously. If there is a team activity, it is not always necessary to be right or have everyone do things your way. If you disagree with your teammates on how to accomplish an activity, show that you can state your case for doing it your way, but also show that you can compromise to get the job done.
As the interview winds down, make sure to thank each interviewer. Make good eye contact and call each one by name. Let them know you appreciate them taking the time to meet with you. Shake hands with other candidates and tell them you were glad to meet them as well.
When the interview is over and you’re away from the building, immediately jot down who you met and what you remember about them. This way, you can send personalized thank you notes to each interviewer. In your note, make sure you show your excitement for the job and let them know you look forward to hearing from them.
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List of the different interview types:
- The Video Interview
- The Informal Interview
- The Technical Interview
- The Phone Interview
- The Structured Interview
- The Scenario Interview
- The Assessment Event
- The Second Interview
- The Panel Interview
- The Lunch Interview
- The Group Interview
- The Behavioral Interview