Does the sound of ‘group interview’ make you cringe? Does it immediately bring to mind Will Smith in ‘Men in Black‘ and the weird egg shaped chair? Did you think, ‘Uh-uh. No way!’? I did too, until I did a little research on it.
Group interviews are held when multiple applicants are seeking a limited number of positions, which they interview for together. The interview typically involves a company presentation, group discussions, and role playing exercises. Usually if a company is conducting candidate group interviews, it’s because they have a large group of applicants and are looking for the simplest, most cost effective way to reject the majority of them.
While this is unlucky news for most applicants, it’s great news for you, the informed interviewee . Group interviews are the perfect opportunity to stand out and define yourself as a leader, and you should have plenty of time to prepare, since human resources almost always informs applicants of the group interview format beforehand. Follow these few tips to ensure a successful, stress free group interview experience.
Before your Group Candidate Interview
• Get ready well in advance, and be a few minutes early. Dress nicely, as you would for a one on one interview. There may be individuals who show up to the interview dressed casually, but their sloppy appearance will only highlight your professional attire.
• Bring a light briefcase or portfolio with you resume, a writing tablet, and two working pens.
• Greet the other candidates warmly and genuinely, even though they are your competition. You will need a good rapport with the other applicants to really shine during the role playing exercises and other group activities, and, anyway, you never know who may end up your coworker or even superior.
During Your Group Candidate Interview
• Expect the group interview to start with an introductory greeting from the human resources or hiring manager, who may be joined by other members of management. Do your best to remember their full names and faces.
• Be confident and try to stand out as a leader during group activities. You can expect to have to work in teams and speak in front of audiences, so do your best to overcome any social anxiety. Even if someone else takes the leadership role, still remain engaged and active. You cannot do the bare minimum and succeed.
• If you are able to lead, make sure you lead well. Involve all team members, even more reserved ones, criticize constructively, encourage and take into account feedback, and praise when praise is due. These are the qualities interviewers are looking to see in potential employees.
• Expect to be watched at all times and judged. While you can particularly expect to be evaluated during group exercises, where interviewers will drop in on each group as well as observe from around the room, you can also count on your casual conversations during breaks to be analyzed as well. Always stay professional and friendly.
Typical Group Interview Activities
• Role playing: Group interviewers frequently plan this activity for candidates. Typically, the interviewer will give two or more people in the group a scene to act out, which is often related to workplace expectations.
• Presentations: Applicants, often working together in groups, are given a topic and a number of materials and are expected to create presentations. Sometimes candidates are given a hypothetical problem to resolve and create a presentation around.
Now that you know what to expect, doesn’t it feel a little less painful?