Group interviews are fairly common because it saves time. Interviewers can also compare notes about the candidate’s responses, potential contribution to results and how the candidate might fit in with the current work group. So, if you’re interviewing for a job that you want, be prepared for a successful group interview by understanding the dynamics and some simple techniques.
From the candidate’s perspective there are some pluses to a group interview:
- You get to see the individuals interact with each other and who plays what role
- You only have to “psych yourself up” once, rather than multiple times
- You have an advantage if you understand and practice the skills needed
Here are some insights for group interviews. They revolve around knowing who is in the group and how to respond to individual questions:
- If you’re scheduled for a group interview, ask for the names of the participants so you can personalize your responses. Also ask for their titles so you can answer questions based upon their function. Marketing, finance, operations, or R&D may receive different answers based upon their function and connection to the open position
- If the group is from the same function, like all Marketing professionals, ask for their names, functions and level of the organization. Are they all “bosses”? Is there a mix of Sales, Marketing, Research and Administration? Are internal customers parts of the group? Answer questions based on the questioner’s role and perspective.
- If you can’t get a list beforehand, either ask for business cards at the beginning of the interview, or ask each participant to introduce themselves along with their function. If done correctly, the upper level managers will see you as a smart and 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.
- Do your research about the company, products, supply chain, customers, pricing, competitors, issues of the industry and so on, prior to the interview. The more you know, the better prepared you will be. Your knowledge will show through in your responses and impress the decision-makers.
- 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. Be professional, provide information and share experiences that parallel the position description.
- When describing your past experiences, emphasize what you did, how you did it and what were the results, in a concise way. Always include measurable outcomes, like “Increased productivity by 10.2% through process improvement techniques”. Their likely response will be, “How were you able to do that?” Then you know you have their undivided attention.
Lastly, 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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