Group interviews provide candidates with different challenges to the standard one-on-one dynamic. They’re about how you operate within the context of other people.
It’s one thing to be able to shine in front of an interviewer, it’s another thing knowing how to operate in a task setting or with role play. So what strategies could help you navigate the process?
Group setting or not, it’s still an interview. You still have to be prepared. That means reading up on the company, the requirements of the role and the interview process itself. The more you know, the easier it is to practice in advance and devise strategies to help you stand out.
If you’re doing a presentation, think about the level of professionalism that aligns with the organisation. For example, if you’re using PowerPoint, be prepared to not just read out the bullet points.
Assessors are essentially gathering evidence to gauge against a competency framework. As a result, it’s vital to know what competencies are actually being assessed.
You have to remember that group tasks are not simply about winning or leading from the front. Yes, organisations are looking for people like that. But they are also looking for a range of individuals and personalities that can complement one another.
So, it’s not just about being the loudest voice in the room. Someone may dominate a conversation, but it doesn’t mean that you should try to outdo them. Companies are equally looking for people that have empathy, credit others’ inputs, can listen and show respect.
Try to put yourself in a position to help the quieter members of your cohort to shine and support the group dynamic. Saying all of that, you also have to make sure you speak up – possibly more than you would normally. You don’t want to be seen to be taking over, but it’s important to get noticed for the value you can add.
We all know that companies talk about wanting team players, but that concept might get lost in an interview setting. Employers look for people who can work in a team and get on well with others in a professional setting.
In group exercises, you may be assigned roles or you could be working together. In either case, show up as a contributor and be someone that’s willing to help. For example, if you are a timekeeper on a task, make sure you give time checks.
On group tasks remember that you are collaborating and not competing. Make it easy for the assessors to pick you. Contribute ideas and listen constructively. And think about your input. Don’t be dismissive of opinions. You could be marked positively for asking strong open questions and negatively for interrupting.
Go out of your way to work as part of a team rather than simply targeting leadership. Be the person who invites everyone to contribute and be constructive when challenging someone’s point.
If you don’t have name badges, see if you can remember everyone’s name. It shows good networking skills. If repeating the person’s name helps you to remember when they introduce themselves, do so.
When you arrive at the venue get into the zone by introducing yourself to the assessors and other candidates. Remember, though, to always have on your game face.
It’s very easy to switch off when you are on a break or are at lunch. But you must operate under the premise that interviewers will be watching you at all times. Subjective impressions are made on non-verbal signs. Remember to smile, engage with people and use a firm handshake.
Once again, keep in mind the competencies that are required in the role that you are applying for. This is what you are being assessed on. So, behave in ways that align at all times. Even in these periods of downtime you should be looking to be proactive. Build rapport, ask friendly questions about what people do and be genuinely interested. In simple terms, always remember that group interviews are about the “group”.
If you’ve had 3 or more periods without working, some longer than 3 months, you’ll need to prepare for one, if not all of the following questions.