How to Approach a Group Interview

During my first job search post-college, I was invited to interview twice in a group interview setting. The first time this occurred, I had no idea what to expect. I’d never been invited to a group interview before. How big was the group going to be? Would I get enough time to talk? How was I supposed to interact with the other candidates?

Most of my peers were also uncertain about this new “group interview” situation. They’d never heard of a group interview, and many of them had never experienced one before. What was I to do, then, in order to be prepared?

It turns out that, for the most part, I was worrying needlessly. In most cases, a group interview should be approached in the same way you would approach an individual interview: research the company beforehand, make sure to dress appropriately, and be sure to practice answering common interview questions. However, there are a few things you need to do a little differently in a group interview.

  1. Be a team player. In an individual interview the challenge is to show off what a good employee you could be on your own. You will probably mention being a team player/having good interpersonal skills, etc., but those things won’t be physically demonstrated. In a group interview the challenge is to stand out while not squashing the other competitors. So speak up. Answer questions concisely but memorably. Invite others to speak up as well. Especially if this position is dependent upon social interaction, you’ll want to show off how exceptionally good you are at making small talk. My personal advice? Treat the others less as potential competitors and more as potential friends.
  2. Listen and respond. Sometimes questions in a group interview session will become conversations, with every interviewee building on what the previous one has said. Example: in one of my group interviews, we were asked what about the store we would change. I listened to what several of the other interviewees said before giving my answer in order to make sure that, a) I wasn’t repeating someone else and, b) I was building on what had already been suggested. Going first gives you the edge of providing the initial idea, but going later means you can show off your critical thinking skills.
  3. Follow up post-interview. Very few people follow up after even an individual interview. Imagine how much more you will stand out if you follow up after a group interview! Not only does this remind the hiring manager of who you are, it also demonstrates your proactive attitude and helps you stand out from the other interviewees. A nice note or email can do the trick, and you’ll thank yourself for it later, I promise.

All in all, don’t panic if you get called in for a group interview. They’re a lot less scary than they initially sound and, in some cases, being in a group interview can take the pressure off since you won’t be the only focus for the entire time. Who knows? You might even make some new contacts for future interviews.

Does thinking about interviewing give you anxiety? Career Solutions Group offers interview preparation as part of our career success formulas. Email to learn more. We offer free initial consultations and have helped hundreds of job seekers make successful transitions.

By: Julia Pillard, Career Solutions Group