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What Does "Group Interview" Mean?

by Lisa McQuerrey

Employers use a group interview technique when they’re trying to simultaneously screen a number of potential employees, or are interested in seeing how candidates interact with one another in a group setting. Prepare for a group interview in much the same way you would for an individual interview. Educate yourself about the company and position, develop a comprehensive and well-written resume, and select pertinent work samples to bring with you. Arrive on time and dressed in appropriate business attire to make a good first impression.

Arrival

You’ll start being evaluated the moment you walk in the door. The way you interact with fellow group interviewees, even in the waiting room, is a reflection of what you think of your colleagues and how you can be expected to work with others. Greet the receptionist, introduce yourself, make small talk with other job candidates and be gracious and engaging.

The Forum

As part of the group interview forum, each job seeker will likely be asked to provide a brief introduction. Prepare for this by creating a one-minute pitch that includes your name, the position you're seeking, a summary of your professional experience and a brief rundown of your academic credentials. At the end of your introduction, thank the interviewer for the opportunity to participate in the group interview process.

Group Questions

In most group interviews, job seekers are asked the same or similar questions. This can be tricky, particularly if someone else answers in a way you had planned. This requires fast thinking and the ability to quickly come up with a backup answer. You can build on what another candidate says while adding your own thoughts and opinions. For example, “I think what Bill said was right on target. In fact, I think his concept could be expanded even further to include additional components.” Use caution not to put down anyone else’s response. Interviewers are looking at you for your teamwork abilities, and putting down a fellow candidate can be seen as bad form.

Individual Questions

In addition to group interview questions, anticipate individual questions as well. This is an opportunity to differentiate yourself from your fellow job seekers by being articulate and creative, and by demonstrating your knowledge and experience. Give brief yet complete answers, and tie your responses to the responsibilities of the job you're seeking. Where possible, incorporate your knowledge of the company. For example, “In terms of long-term planning, I prefer to establish personal and group goals as well as tie my professional objectives into the long-term strategy of the company. In this case, I know cultivating a solid repeat business base is important to this organization, and I would focus my efforts in that direction.”

Ask Questions

If you have the opportunity, ask questions during the group interview. Don’t ask about anything that could easily be found in a company website or brochure. Instead, focus on corporate philosophy, strategic objectives and long-term goals. This can help set you apart from the competition.

Group Projects

Some group interviews include a group activity in which you and your fellow candidates will be assigned a team task to complete. Interviewers are evaluating you on your ability to take on a leadership role or effectively take direction and work in a collaborative manner. Show respect for your colleagues, avoid confrontation and focus on completing the task in the most efficient way possible.

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