Group interviews are a weird thing. It’s like having a really intimate conversation in a room full of people you don’t know. Okay, it’s not like that… it is that. If you’re one of the lucky ones (#notlucky) that get invited to participate in a group interview, have I got news for you. You’re going to do great. Just take five minutes to review what a group interview means for you and what popular questions are typically asked. How to prepare for an interview.
There are actually two different types of group interviews. You’ll probably want to ask your employer which one they are referring to so you know how to prepare.
A candidate group interview is the kind where you’ll be sitting in a room with a bunch of other candidates. These people are most likely applying for the same position you are so you’re really going to have to stand out. The first part of this interview is probably going to be an informational session about the company, the position and maybe an informal Q & A. Sometimes the employer will have the candidates engage in group exercises so they can see how you communicate, delegate, interact and work. One-stop shop training to get you a better job.
For this kind of group interview here are some questions you can expect.
No group exercise:
Why are you applying for this position?
Pretty straight forward. Why are you here? Even if you’re just in need of a job – any job – you need to think about how your personal objectives can benefit from gaining this position.
How do your goals fit with our company’s goals?
Sometimes when we apply to jobs our long-term goals don’t always fit right in line with the company. Don’t say that. You want to really think about your personal development goals and what you can possibly gain from this position to help you get there. Tailor your answers to make your employers know that you’ve read up on the company and respect their values and objectives.
What makes you stand out?
Got a set of skills that the company can’t do without? Tell them. This is the time for shameless self-promotion. Have you won an award at your current job? Did your employer give you a raving review? Are you passionate about your work? Do you adapt to new situations well? Make sure you only answer with relevant information. Don’t explain how you are the top dancer at your studio if you’re applying to be an accountant at bank.
If there was a group exercise:
What did you contribute to the team?
We’re you the leader of the group? Did you keep everything organized? We’re you the one that came up with the presentation display? Make sure you participate in the exercise! You’ll be working with people you’ve never met on a project you may not know much about but sitting back and letting the others take over is not going to win you the position. Let the boss know that what you contributed and how it was received by the group.
What struggles did the team have and how did you overcome them?
In hindsight, what would you have done differently? Being able to step away from a project and assess what went right and what went wrong is a huge step in personal and professional development. Explain what the strengths and weaknesses were during the exercise and how the team addressed them. Being able to articulate this efficiently is going to convince your employer you know what it takes to be honest with yourself and furthermore fix the things that need correcting.
What coping methods did you use to deal with the stress of meeting the deadline?
These kind of situations can be highly stressful. There’s a lot of pressure to 1) complete the project as assigned, 2) make your mark, 3) not overdue it. While doing all of this you are being watched by people who hold their future in their hands. How do you handle it? Do you step up and take charge? Do you focus on organization and remain flexible to stay collected? By answering this question you are showing your boss what characteristics of yours will shine when you encounter a high pressure situation at work. They are going to want people who can keep calm and productive regardless of the circumstances. Focus on controlling the situation (don’t be bossy), being able to adapt and think quick and organization skills.
The panel group interview is arguably the more popular of the two. Consider this a reverse candidate interview. You’ll be alone being asked questions by a panel of interviewers. Yes, this is probably going to be as intense as it sounds but don’t say no just yet. You can prepare yourself to handle this situation with grace and confidence!
Tell us about yourself.
Don’t talk about your favorite foods and weekend hobbies. Talk about your educational background and work experience and how it aligns with the company’s needs and goals. Discuss a couple of situations where you excelled at a prior job. Try to make it relevant.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Ugh. This question kills me. As much as you want to cry out I don’t know! – please don’t. Show your employer that you are focused and aren’t just grabbing for any job available. Be specific as to how this job is going to contribute to your personal development. Let them know you aren’t just trying to get your foot in the door and you really want to learn and be a valuable asset to the team. You could say something like: In five years time I hope to be working in the [blank] department as a [blank] where I can offer my unique set of skills to the company. I know it’s going to be challenging but I’m ready to do whatever it takes to further my career path.
Other panel questions will resemble your standard interview questions and the questions mentioned above in the No Group Exercise section. For more about these kind of interview questions, check out this online tutorial.