01 Dec What to Expect in Group Interviews
Group interviews involve getting together with other job candidates to meet with one or more interviewers. An increasing number of companies use this type of interview to screen out unsuitable job applicants and it is important to know what to expect.
Usually this interview involves a number of interviewers – potential managers or supervisors, human resources, even future co-workers – and a group of candidates all together in one room. This type of interview can take a number of different forms.
What is a group interview?
In its most basic form the group interview consists of a presentation, by the employer, to the candidates about the company and position. Generally there will be a question and answer session after the presentation.
These simple interviews serve two purposes. Information is given to all the candidates in an economical and time-saving manner.
It also gives the interviewers an opportunity to conduct an initial screening of the candidates as they observe the candidates’ behaviour and interaction with each other, their communication skills and the impression they make.
What happens in a group interview?
Group interviews can be more involved than just a presentation. Candidates may be required to participate in work-simulation exercises.
These can take the form of group problem-solving sessions where each candidate’s contribution and participation is noted. Discussion groups take a similar form.
Other exercises include splitting the candidates into teams and each team is given a work-related task to complete. Each team then presents their results to the whole group.
During these team exercises the interviewers closely watch and listen to the candidates. They also ask questions of individual candidates and take notes.
What are employers looking for in candidates?
The skills and behaviours observed include communication and interpersonal ability, persuasiveness and the ability to influence others, leadership and delegation, organizational and planning skills and the ability to work and contribute as a team member.
Other observable behaviours include the ability to handle stress, to deal with feedback and give feedback and to analyse and problem-solve. Levels of individual knowledge are also noted.
Sometimes the situational exercise is not work related. Candidates are given a controversial hypothetical situation, such as deciding how to choose who to save from a sinking boat.
These type of exercises cause a lot of discussion and argument and interviewers will observe how people interact, influence and reach decisions.
Tips for Group Interviews
- Before you begin the interview introduce yourself politely to the other candidates. You will be observed from the word go.
- It is important to be seen as an active participant rather than merely an observer. Contribute your views and ideas while also listening to the other candidates.
- Appear confident but avoid coming across as aggressive. Avoid dominating the conversation and don’t interrupt the other candidates.
- Make sure that you take criticism and give feedback constructively.
- Give praise when possible and acknowledge valuable contributions from other candidates.
- Avoid obvious power conflicts as these will make you appear uncooperative and unprofessional. Stay calm under pressure.