Getting Through a Group Interview
Have you been through a group interview before?
August 02, 2010
Group interviews are relatively easy if you work well in a team and are able to make your ideas heard in a crowd. However, they can be challenging if you have a quieter personality and prefer to keep to yourself. Regardless of how you feel about group interviews, there’s no reason you should treat them any different, in most respects, than a standard, one-on-one interview. The same basic principles apply: Research the company, arrive on time, dress appropriately, practice answering common interview questions, and remember to follow up after the interview.
What’s the Difference?
The key difference between individual interviews and group interviews is obvious: You’ll be questioned along with a bunch of other hopeful job seekers. Your objective isn’t just to show what a great employee you could be — you need to beat the competition face-to-face, too. The competition is in the room with you. Don’t worry — you can use this to your advantage.
The challenge is to find the right balance between getting your opinion across and dominating the conversation. You don’t want to be so close-mouthed that you’re perceived as being passive or shy either. Be confident and don’t let yourself be bullied by others into staying quiet. At the same time, encourage your fellow interviewees to speak up and let their ideas be heard. You’ve got nothing to worry about, right? Let your knowledge and confidence speak for themselves. Keep yourself focused and calm and you’ll blow away the competition.
Panel Interview vs. Project Interview
Group interviews can be conducted a few ways, depending on the quirks of the company. In a panel interview, a group of job seekers are asked several questions by a panel of people from the company. These people are usually from a variety of backgrounds, and can include someone from human resources, company executives, and/or employees you are most likely to work with should you get the job. The point of panel interviews is to make your voice heard without dominating the conversation. Are your responses memorable? Are you memorable? Be respectful, respond intelligently, and keep your cool to ace this kind of interview.
Project interviews are more hands-on. In these situations, a team of job seekers is given a group assignment which measures a variety of skills including teamwork, leadership, communication, interpersonal relationships, and project management. The interviewers want to see how well you work with each other and observe you in action — something that can’t be done in a passive, one-on-one interview. These types of interviews are difficult to prepare for, unless you’ve been told ahead of time what the assignment will be so that you can study up. In any case, turn the interview in your favor by showcasing your leadership ability. Don’t just take charge and manage the whole group — make sure everyone is heard and keep the peace!