Companies are constantly trying to find new ways to weed out the good from the great. One of the ways this has been done is to conduct group interviews with other candidates. These multi-person interviews can have as few as 6 or as many as 20 candidates, sometimes spread out over two or three days to interview additional candidates.
You must be wondering why a company would want to conduct group interviews with so many candidates… It turns out that some companies use this approach to save time. Let’s explore this.
Say that you have just had your first interview by phone or video conference and now you have been invited for a live interview. Some companies will invite you to a live group interview at the company. When you interview with other candidates, you are essentially saving the company quite a bit of time. Human resources will not have to schedule and call each individual candidate to have the subsequent interview etc.
Besides the convenience factor of having the pool of job candidates all in one place, many human resource (HR) departments leading these hiring events want to see what candidates are made of. It is common that HR will schedule many different activities to see you in action. The goals of these activities can range from seeing your leadership abilities, communication skills, teamwork, negotiation, and other skills that are inherent to the job.
That is a brief overview of what you can expect in group interviews with other candidates, but there is a lot more. Let’s dive deeper.
What to expect in interviews with other candidates?
Typical group interviews can take a whole afternoon or up to a whole day to complete depending on the thoroughness and plans of the HR. Since these can be pretty in depth, let’s see what you can expect.
Short self-presentation: There will be, trust me, a time for you to present yourself. This could be about who you are, where you study, your current job (if applicable), and maybe a curiosity about yourself. You need to go into the interview with other candidates knowing what you are going to say for your short self-presentation. Don’t leave it to chance. Put something good together.
Random questions presented to the group: This might kick off by HR or the presenter asking what candidates know about the company, its mission, values, core business, and anything else relevant that they believe YOU should know. Make the conscious effort to participate in answering these questions. Although these questions seem innocent and more as an icebreaker, you are under a watchful eye constantly being judged. Demonstrating your preparation, knowledge, and interest will go a long way here.
Splitting into groups and activities: HR wants to see how well you can collaborate with your team members and come up with a solution to a common problem, or even a case that the company is currently facing. This is your time to shine. Show your interest and enthusiasm in working with your team and how you are going to solve the problem. When it comes time to present, knock it out. Present with confidence, be assertive, and try your best to clearly communicate the message. After all, you already have an idea of what HR is looking for, so give them what they want!
Coffee breaks: There are several coffee breaks throughout these sessions. These may seem like mingling sessions to get to know other candidates and ask questions of members at the company: but they’re really to see how you interact with others and learn if you have what it takes to thrive in that environment. Maybe this job demands specific communication and extrovert skills, being a timid colleague and not conversing with others will hurt your chances immensely.
Group presentations: Throughout the day of activities, there will be a time that your group presents something you worked on. Although this is a team effort, you need to make sure you knock it out of the park when it comes time for you to present your part. Bring the spotlight on yourself. Demonstrate your skills and prove to the HR members why you are the right candidate.
Closing: So, you have just finished the first day of group interviews with other candidates and are getting ready to go home. Don’t go just yet. Take a minute to go to each of the HR members that were present in the interview sessions and THANK them for their time. You can even mention certain things that you enjoyed about the day’s event. It might have been a specific activity that was done, a presentation given by them, or anything else you liked. Share this. It goes a long way. Leaving a positive impression is your goal and keeping your name fresh in their mind is your aim. Go around and shake everyone’s hand, thank them, and tell them I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks again!
How to prepare for your group interview
Just like any other interview, you’ve got to know the company’s mission, vision, values, and get a basic understanding of their core business (what they specialize in). To do this, dive deep into the website, binge read their blog, read reviews etc. Obtain and absorb as much information as you can. This will help you later.
Dress for success: Whenever you go to these interviews, dress the part. To play it safe, always go formal! Don’t risk it. You want to make a solid first impression.
Be there on time: Can’t stress this enough. First impressions stick, and if you are late, this is already a negative point tallied against you. Additionally, know how to get there. Nowadays Google Maps or Waze or other GPS tools, it makes it simple to get there. Try to find out the average amount of time it takes to get from your place to the company. Give yourself a few extra minutes in case the unexpected happens.
Your game plan to success for group interviews with other candidates
Here are a series of tips for you to feel confident and be prepared for your group interview.
Don’t be shy: As mentioned earlier, this is your time to shine and stick out from the crowd. Being shy is an absolute No-no here. Make a conscious effort to get out of your shell and meet people, share your thoughts, debate, present, and whatever else comes your way during the day.
Study the company: Since you have probably already had one interview, whether in person or over the phone or Skype, you should already have a good idea what the company does. Don’t just stop there. Continue researching the company and digging deeper into what it does. Find out as much as you can. One thing I have seen first hand is many recruiters during this session may throw out some innocent questions like, “Hey everyone, what do you know about company ABC?” The recruiter or person leading the session may do this in a fun and easy going way, but they are 100% judging you. It’s your time to shine. Share what you know and have learned during your preparation.
Demonstrate teamwork abilities: There will definitely be a group dynamic. Demonstrate that you have the skills to work in a team setting.
Mapping skills to the job description: Read over the job description again. Be on the look out for what types of skills this job and company require. Are they looking for someone who is a good communicator, has experience working with teams, or pristine writing skills? Identify these skills and showcase them in the live group interviews.
Be courteous and professional with everyone: This explains itself and it goes a long way.
Having group interviews with other candidates can be an exciting yet scary experience for some, but it is well worth it. Every group interview is slightly different, so it may not be exactly described as above, but the tips presented will help put you on the right track. Do your prep work, show your skills, work well with others, communicate well, and do your best – you’ll do fine.
For more interview tips, check out the other CareerPrep articles and also the CareerPrep Youtube Channel.