Your career is in IT, not the theater—so how have you found yourself in what looks and feels more like an audition? Welcome to the group interview, where employers bring a pool of job applicants together to face a panel of human resources staff, managers, supervisors, and even potential co-workers.
Usually the candidate group is broken into teams and given either some sort of work-simulation exercise or a controversial hypothetical situation; then the interviewers sit back and observe the process and results.
If the mere thought of these circumstances has you sweating, well, that’s the idea. One of the key areas that group interviews are designed to assess is a candidate’s ability to handle stress and pressure, along with other important factors like teamwork skills, leadership/delegation abilities, giving and receiving feedback, communications skills, and whether or not applicants have a knack for thinking on their feet.
Here’s how you can shine, not sweat, in a group interview:
- Keep your cool: Don’t react negatively if surprised by the group format, the chosen scenario or any other element of the interview. Stay calm and positive no matter what.
- Be assertive, but not aggressive: Interviewers won’t remember you if you blend into the background, so make sure you are a confident participant who contributes your own ideas and viewpoints, but also actively listens to those of others. If you dominate conversation, interrupt others, or get into arguments or power struggles with other candidates, you will also be noticed – but not in a good way.
- Don’t fumble the feedback: Criticism is a workplace necessity, and interviewers will be judging how well you handle it. Make sure you thoughtfully and gracefully accept constructive criticism, and that any feedback you give to others is productive as well. Publicly acknowledging positive contributions from fellow candidates enhances your image as a team player, too.
- Watch your body language and voice: Whether it’s with the other candidates or the interviewers, make sure you smile, shake hands and above all, make good eye contact. When speaking, make sure your voice is neither too soft nor too strident, and keep your answers brief and on-point. Verbal ramblings or repetition demonstrate disorganization or nervousness.
- Add the finishing touch: After the interview, don’t slink away or run out the door, no matter how drained you may feel. Shake hands with everyone – be sure to not only thank the panel, but wish your fellow participants good luck. Do this, and you will stand out as a confident, mature candidate. Don’t forget to follow up with the usual handwritten thank-you notes to the interviewers as well.
Group interviews are deliberately designed to cause stress, but armed with the tips above, you can turn them into a showcase of your skills instead. Have more questions about how to succeed in a group interview – or conduct one? The staffing specialists at Triumph Services can help!