How To Succeed In A Group Interview

Posted on: June 12th, 2012 by
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Be in the foreground, not the background

The first question that you need to understand: Why would a hiring organization do a group interview when it’s more productive, from your view, to interview one-on-one?

Response – There are several answers, all of them favoring the company.  They can:

  • Squeeze more candidates into a shorter period of time
  • Have all of the decision-makers see and hear the same thing at the same time
  • Discuss each candidate and consider the pro’s and con’s and debate their concerns
  • See how candidates handle a pressure situation with bosses and peers in a group

From the candidate’s perspective there are some pluses and minuses to group interviews:

  • You get to see the group interact within themselves and who plays what role
  • You only have to “psych yourself up” once, rather than time after time
  • The skills are different for interviewing a group versus individuals
  • The preparation is the same but the dynamics are more group process oriented

 

Here are some guidelines to help you with group interviews.  They may not be exhaustive, but may provide some insights for you to work on:

  • If you know you will have a group interview, see if you can get a list of the group members and their functions.  You’ll work the group differently if they are all finance or marketing or operations people than if it’s a mixed group.
  • Find out the levels of each member of the group.  Are they all “bosses”?  Is there a mix of peer functions?  Are internal customers parts of the group?  How about potential subordinates?  How you handle questions will be reflected on the audience.
  • If you can’t get a list beforehand, either ask for business cards or ask each participant to introduce themselves along with their function.  If done correctly, the upper level managers will see you as a smart, experienced candidate.  Either set up their business cards on the table before you in the order they are sitting or write their names and function as they introduce themselves.
  • KEY APPROACH #1: Do your research about the company, their products, supply chain, customers, pricing, competitors, issues of the industry, and so on.  Your knowledge will show through in your responses and impress the decision-makers.  You’ll probably know more than many in the room, so be careful you don’t become a “show off”.  But if you can relate your responses to the business, you’re doing well.
  • KEY APPROACH #2: Respond to the questions as if you’re making a presentation to a client group as a consultant.  Your purpose is to inform and market yourself to a group that will make a decision after all the others have completed their interview.  If you come across professionally, giving information and sharing experiences as if you were a product or brand, your peer candidates will pale by comparison.
  • Lastly, like any good sales person, give concluding remarks to “close the deal”.  Tell the group you’re highly interested in the position and hope to become a member of their team.

 

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