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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Odds are you’ll experience it at least once in your professional lifetime: the dreaded group interview.

Hopefully you’ll know about it before you show up, so you have time to prepare yourself. But if for some reason the group setting catches you by surprise (which has happened to me once), don’t worry. Although it may seem intimidating, it’s easy to do well and to make yourself stand out in a positive way.

What’s a group interview? 

Group interviews can be divided into two different categories: candidate-style and panel-style. In candidate-style group interviews, you interview with multiple other applicants. In panel-style group interviews, numerous employers from a company or organization interview you at once.

Why do employers do this?  

Simple: it saves companies money. This is especially true of candidate-style group interviews. Interviewing a dozen people at once allows for employers to hire people quicker. Panel-style offers less of a chance of bad hiring decisions because two or more people are doing the interviewing. 

What is the best strategy for candidate-style group interviews?

Don’t treat it like a competition. Treat it like a collaboration.  

Keep in mind that employers may hire you and one or two other people from the same group interview. It isn’t just about looking better than all of the other applicants. Employers want to see you’re a leader and a team player. 

Be considerate, speak up, and make strong points on your own, but give others a chance to share their input as well. Complement other applicants on points they make, and add to them. 

For example, “I really like what Alberta said about ... and I’d like to add on to that by saying...” This means listening closely to more than just the interviewer's questions. Include yourself in the conversation, too.

What about panel-style group interviews?

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Never focus in on just one interviewer; acknowledge and address everyone.  

Modify your communication style to address everyone at the table. Make eye contact when one interviewer asks you a question and start by answering to just them, then let yourself make eye contact with the other interviewers to make them each feel included in the conversation. 

In addition, try to demonstrate that you can make connections between each interviewer's questions. This shows your active listening skills and can further engage employers.

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