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Group Interview Tips: How To Make Your Mark In A Group Interview
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Group Interview Tips: How To Make Your Mark In A Group Interview

Taking part in a group interview is an entirely different experience from being interviewed alone. Although you may have been told you’re taking part in a group activity, you are unlikely to have been told anything else. This makes it far more challenging. At least when you have an individual interview you can research and practice a range of different questions. It’s quite a different scenario when you have no idea of the task that you’re going to be presented with. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t prepare – you can and you should do so.

Understanding the different types of tasks that you could be confronted with, and what skills the organisation are likely to be looking for will give you the opportunity to think about your own performance and how you might respond to some of the challenges that other candidates may present.

Generally the group interview involves one or more exercises which involve looking at a work-related solution, often involving a dilemma. Depending on the number of candidates, they would be split into groups, given the opportunity to solve the dilemma and asked to present their findings to the entire group and the observers.

Another common exercise which is used is one where the candidates are presented with a hypothetical situation eg. There are 12 people needing places on a lifeboat that only has room for eight. Candidates negotiate with each other to decide who they would save and reach a group consensus. Sometimes this type of activity can provoke very heated arguments as people’s personal values and beliefs come into play.

Whatever exercise you’re presented with there is likely to be one observer with their eyes trained on you, making notes of what you say and do. The most important thing to remember in a group interview is that although you are not alone, you will still be judged as an individual. The observers will be looking for a number of skills and behaviour traits.

  • Communication skills eg: you style of communication, your active listening skills, how good you are at being able to influence or persuade.
  • Team working skills eg which role do you take in a team situation. Are you even part of the team?
  • Leadership skills eg. What if any leadership skills to you display. Are you the natural leader of the group or happy to display leadership skills at certain points.
  • Decision making skills eg Is there a logic to the way you come to certain conclusions.
  • Ability to manage stress: Eg how do you respond to the activity itself and the behaviour of other people in the group.

So to ensure your success in a group interview there are a number of issues that you should consider, which is why I have written these group interview tips.

Before the Interview

  • Prepare:- spend some time observing some of your colleagues in group situations for example team meetings.
  • Note particular skills that colleagues demonstrate such as active listening, checking for understanding, asking questions and challenging other’s opinions.
  • Note behaviour that you don’t want to emulate such as people being sarcastic, aggressive, interrupting when other people are talking and being dismissive of their opinions.
  • Observe whether in a meeting all the attendees are taking part or whether some people don’t speak at all or show reluctance to give their opinion. Note whether the meeting Chair or other members of the group try to include them, and what strategies they use to do this, without embarrassing anyone.

During the Interview

  • Offer to be the leader only if you’re happy to take the role, but don’t react badly if someone else is chosen.
  • Make sure you speak. Don’t be content to just sit back and listen. That’s not what the observers want to see. They want to learn about you.
  • Feel free to disagree. If you have a difference of opinion then be confident enough to say so, making your point clearly and firmly. There is nothing wrong with being assertive, but don’t be aggressive and don’t keep repeating the same point.
  • Bring in other candidates if you notice they’re not getting the opportunity to talk.
  • Make eye contact with all the members the group and don’t forget to smile.
  • Make legible notes before and during the task. You may not always be able to make a point as soon as you think of it and you don’t want to forget anything.

I hope you find these group interview tips useful and the next time you have to attend a group interview you come across as confident, professional and an ideal candidate who has made their mark.


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