How to Tackle the Dreaded Group Interview

Preparing for an interview is already stressful enough – you’ve spent hours customizing your resume, laying out your professional outfit, reviewing your skills and qualifications, and researching your dream company.

What you were not prepared for: the other candidates who appeared at your interview. How do you shine in an interview with your fellow peers? From my own experiences, here are some top tips for tackling the group interview.

FindSpark, recruiter Michelle Corbett coaches members at our resume workshop

Photo Courtesy of Stephanie Banares

Treat the other candidates as colleagues

You may feel a bit uncomfortable at first with the other candidates – after all, you are competing for the same position. But try to imagine that these fellow peers are already your colleagues.

A career counselor once told me that you have to pretend that you are working on a group project and presenting your work to your boss, the interviewer. You want to support your fellow teammates while also highlighting the skills that you bring to the team and how you have been a leader.

After the interview, these candidates could also be great connections to add to your network. You have no idea how one of these peers may be able to help you in your career, or vice-versa, in the future.

Remember their names

This tip may seem like an obvious one, but when you are in a group interview with ten or more candidates like I once was, it makes a difference to your interviewers and other candidates when you make the effort to remember their names.

Try to use first names when addressing the interviewer or referencing something another candidate said. Your interviewer will already feel like you are one of their team members.

Take initiative in the conversation

Some group interviews can be led with ice breakers and fun activities to get to know all of the candidates or to see your personality in a group setting. Whenever there is an opportunity to share an opinion, ask a question, or begin an activity, speak up and offer to share your thoughts or lead a discussion.

Be an active listener

People always want the person on their team who takes into consideration what other team members say and thoughtfully responds with their own ideas. Your interviewers most likely want to see how you interact with your peers. This includes listening to other view points and opinions and incorporating them into the discussion. Make comments like these:

“Marie’s comment about____________ reminded me of a time when I also _________________.” 

“David, I think that’s a really interesting point, and it makes me also wonder about ________________.”

FindSpark Group Interview

Photo Courtesy of Stephanie Banares

Emphasize your collaboration skills

If an employer decides to conduct a group interview instead a one-on-one, chances are that they are either hoping to fill more than one position or they have a company culture that highly values team work and group collaboration.

Your interviewers want to see that you can work well with others in a professional environment. When talking about your skills, highlight times when you worked in groups, had to lead a team, or compromised with a team member to get a task done.

These examples will show your interviewer that you can work with others well and would be a great addition to their own team.

Ask thoughtful questions

One way that you can stick out from the crowd during your interview is to ask specific and interesting questions which show that you have thoroughly researched the company and understand what its main goals and concerns are. You want to show your interviewer that you already have a great enough comprehension of their company in order to successfully contribute ideas about their current goals or products.

Write a unique follow-up

The follow-up message is your last chance to stand out from the other candidates in your interview. Write a message to each one of your interviewers thanking them for their time, referencing key topics you discussed, and re-emphasizing why you are a great fit for the position. For ideas on how to write a great follow-up read here and here.

What has been your experience with group interviews? Share with us in the comments!

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