Topic: Group Interviews
There are two ways to think of group interviews: the sort where a group of prospective employees interview together, and the sort where a single hopeful hire faces multiple interviewers at once.
Interviewing alongside a group of people all vying for the same job can be daunting, as you get to see your competition firsthand. But it can also be a time to display strengths in a way that isn’t possible in traditional one-on-one interviews. Multiple interviewee interviews often involve a discussion around a theme central to the organization, which allows the interviewer interviewer to see how well each member works within a group setting. People who can’t help but try to dominate a conversation or shrink away from sharing their opinions show their true characteristics, characteristics that would traditionally not be seen until after the individual was already hired.
When in a group interview like this, make sure to speak up multiple times when you have something meaningful to add, but don’t monopolize the conversation. You can also show your ability to work well with others (even others trying to get the same job you want) by respectfully using the names of the other interviewees to begin your point: “I really agree with what Sam said, and I think if we were to take her point even further, we’d see that…”
It’s also important to simply realize what is going on – sometimes companies will not tell you straight up that an interview is even going on. I once was invited to interview at a non-profit company that started with a short video shown in a room with nine other people, followed by a group discussion, with individual interviews after. It was clear that a few of the people either had no idea that the interview had actually already begun, or were simply unable to hide their natures of wanting to dominate or not being able to speak up. Be on the watch for interviews in disguise, and always remember that you’ve been being interviewed from the moment you walked in the door.
Alternatively, many companies bring in one person for an interview with many employees at a company. This method can save time, as the interviewee doesn’t have to come back for more interviews with other people. It also allows the interviewers to share the experience of interviewing for ease of later discussion, and gives a shared sense of responsibility over the person who is ultimately hired, easing some of the pressure of the Human Relations department to hire the perfect candidate.
These sorts of interviews require the same standard interview preparation: study the company, brainstorm possible questions, and prepare a thoughtful list of your own questions. However, there are a few key differences to keep in mind.
First, expect a variety of personalities, and don’t try to alter yourself to suit all of them. Since this isn’t a one-on-one interview, it won’t work. Stay true to who you are and don’t attempt to match the style of one or more of the interviewers. Switching your way of talking and mannerisms might seem odd, and choosing one person to match could be disrespectful to the others, which leads to the second point: treat all the interviewers with the same level of respect.
Make sure to pay attention to the interviewers’ names and titles, but don’t use titles as a way to figure out who to direct your answers to. These sorts of group interviews, just like the previous sort, seem daunting and stressful, but are an opportunity to show skills of respect a certain amount of social courtesy that is not possible in a traditional interview. Make frequent eye contact with everyone as you answer your questions. It can be easy to direct your answer to the person who seems the friendliest or has the highest level title, but this can be a mistake. Although your potential boss’s boss might ultimately be calling the shots, they may be taking your potential future co-worker’s opinion extremely seriously, as they are the person who would be working you day to day. Forget about titles and who seems the kindest, and direct your answers back to everyone. When you send your follow up thank you note, be sure to address it to everyone, unless there were a large amount of people, in which case you can address it to the person who was in charge or set up the interview, but be sure to mention the others who were involved.
Although the two different types of group interviews can be tense and disquieting, they can actually be the perfect opportunity to display your ability to adjust to the unexpected, interact well in a team setting, and treat everyone with respect, regardless of their job title or if they are gunning for the job you want. Even if you’ve been told you’ll have a one-on-one interview with a certain person, group interviews can always be hidden somewhere in the process, and it’s important to mentally prepare yourself for the possibility, and be ready to turn a challenge into an opportunity.Leave the first comment ▶