It’s not every day you find yourself face to face with the other contenders for a job you want, but a group interview puts you in this exact scenario. And, to make things more intense, you’re duking it out for the attention and approval of the interviewer right there in front of each other.
It goes without saying that you all want the job, so you’ll need to make an extra effort if you want to make a great impression. Follow these tips for how to stand out in a group interview.
What is a group interview?
A group interview consists of two or more candidates interviewing simultaneously. There is typically only one interviewer, though sometimes there may be a panel.
During a group interview, the interviewer poses questions for each candidate to answer. There may also be group activities or role-playing scenarios used to assess candidates’ behavior in a team setting.
Why do employers use group interviews?
Employers use group interviews to assess multiple candidates simultaneously. Not only does this save time, but it can aid them in comparing candidates against one another.
Sometimes, a company uses group interviews when hiring multiple people for the same role, like if a retail store needs to onboard three new sales associates. Interviewing several applicants simultaneously can speed up hiring while giving the hiring manager a glimpse of prospective team members’ interpersonal skills.
Tips on how to stand out in a group interview
The group interview format means you’re not just competing for attention but against individuals with potentially similar qualifications and backgrounds. The key to understanding how to stand out in a group interview often lies in how effectively you can articulate your unique contributions and experiences.
1. Come prepared
Preparation is important for any interview setting, but it will be even more obvious in a group interview if you’re ill-prepared. So, it’s important to do your homework ahead of time.
Find out the name of the person you’ll be interviewing with and learn their role in the company. Also, come armed with a solid understanding of the company’s service or product offering. Finally, re-read the job description before your interview to make sure you can tailor your answers to the specific requirements of the job.
2. Rehearse your introduction
To ensure you know how to stand out in a group interview from the very start, rehearse a well-crafted introduction. This should be concise yet impactful. Begin by stating your name and current position. Then, dive into some of your top skills or accomplishments that make you suitable for the job. Maybe you spearheaded a successful project or have expertise in a particular domain relevant to the role.
For instance: “Hello, I’m [Your Name]. I currently work as a [Your Current Position], where I led a team to achieve [Specific Accomplishment]. I specialize in [Specific Skill], and I believe this aligns perfectly with what you’re looking for in a candidate.”
Remember, confidence is key. Practice your introduction multiple times until it feels natural. This will help you convey your message effectively and demonstrate your confidence and preparation – two qualities that will make you stand out in a group interview setting.
3. Give compelling examples
While your resume offers a snapshot of your qualifications, group interviews present the opportunity to bring those qualifications to life. Here’s how you can make the most of this chance:
- Narrative Storytelling: Instead of merely listing accomplishments, weave them into a narrative. Describe the challenges you faced, the strategies you employed, and the outcomes. This storytelling approach helps interviewers visualize your problem-solving abilities in action.
- Quantify Achievements: As you rightly pointed out, putting a number to your accomplishments lends them credibility. Whether it’s a percentage increase, monetary savings, or the number of projects managed, quantifiable achievements make your contributions concrete.
- Tailor Examples to the Role: Review the job description and company values before the interview. Try to align your examples with the specific skills or qualities they’re looking for. If the role requires strong team collaboration, highlight a time when you successfully led a team or resolved a team conflict.
- Show Personal Growth: Employers value candidates who are self-aware and committed to continuous learning. Along with your achievements, don’t be afraid to discuss a challenge or failure and how it spurred personal or professional growth.
- Highlight Soft Skills: Everyone will likely discuss their technical achievements but don’t forget about soft skills like communication, adaptability, and conflict resolution. Providing examples of how you’ve demonstrated these skills can be just as, if not more, impactful.
- Use the STAR Method: A structured approach to framing your examples is using the STAR method—Situation, Task, Action, Result. Describe the Situation you were in, the Task at hand, the Actions you took, and the Results achieved.
4. Engage with the other candidates
The other candidates in the interview aren’t necessarily your competitors. In some cases, they could wind up being your future coworkers. The interviewer will be paying close attention to how you interact. Show that you’re a consummate professional by treating everyone in the room with kindness and respect.
Use interview body language that demonstrates your engagement, like turning your shoulders toward another candidate speaking or nodding your head to agree with their statement. Offer a compliment when you follow another candidate’s answer with a phrase like, “That’s a great point, [name]. I would also add…”
5. Don’t zone out when other candidates are speaking
While group interviews might feel like a breather at times, especially when the focus shifts to other candidates, it’s crucial that you stay attentive. A common misconception is that you only need to be “on” when it’s your turn to speak. In reality, knowing how to stand out in a group interview requires an understanding that every moment is an opportunity.
Avoid the temptation to take a mental break when another candidate is speaking. It is disrespectful to the person sharing, and interviewers are also watching. They observe candidates to see how well they listen, engage, and react. Zoning out can make you appear disinterested or unprofessional. If you’re not attentive, you might miss critical information. The last thing you want is to be caught off-guard if an interviewer references something another candidate said and asks for your input or perspective.
6. Be an enthusiastic participant
Enthusiasm can substantially affect how you’re perceived during a group interview. It showcases your passion, interest, and commitment to the role. And most importantly, it can set you apart from other candidates.
When opportunities arise, take the initiative. For instance, if the interviewer asks, “Who wants to go first?” confidently and enthusiastically volunteer. This willingness to step forward demonstrates your readiness to face challenges head-on and your leadership qualities. If you’re presented with role-playing scenarios, such as acting out a customer interaction or delivering a sales pitch, dive in wholeheartedly. While the scenario itself might be hypothetical, your attitude and approach are very real indicators of how you might behave in actual job situations.
7. Convey a positive attitude towards teamwork
One of the primary reasons employers use group interviews is to observe applicants in a team setting. So, you want to communicate a positive, welcoming attitude toward teamwork in your verbal answers and actions.
It’s a good idea to devise a few examples of times when you’ve successfully worked as a team that you can incorporate into your answers.
8. Offer a clear value proposition
Most candidates will give answers focusing mainly on themselves, like “I’m great at [skill].” An excellent way to distinguish yourself in this regard is to focus instead on how your characteristics will benefit the company.
Rather than saying, “I’m a strong web developer,” you could say, “I would use my web development skills to heighten [company]’s presence among Gen Z consumers.”
9. Wear something distinctive
Don’t underestimate the power of making a strong visual impression. Help the interviewer remember you by wearing something distinctive, like a brightly colored shirt, a unique tie, or an interesting piece of jewelry.
It doesn’t need to be loud, just something memorable that’s different from what the other candidates wear.
10. Let your personality shine
In a group interview, your resume is likely very similar to those of the other candidates. One thing no one can replicate, though, is your personality, so don’t be afraid to let it show.
Use your interview answers to demonstrate your enthusiasm, passion, drive, commitment, and other traits that make you unique. You can even incorporate a little humor, though you’ll need to use your judgment to decide how much levity is appropriate for the environment.
11. Build rapport with the interviewer(s)
The candidate and the interviewer are at the heart of any interview. Hiring managers, consciously or subconsciously, tend to lean towards candidates they feel a connection with. This doesn’t just mean being likable but emphasizes the importance of building genuine rapport.
In a group interview, take the initiative to engage with the interviewer(s) genuinely. Your interactions shouldn’t just be a series of rehearsed responses; they should resonate authentically. Here are some ways to ensure this:
- Find Common Ground: While discussing your experiences or background, look for moments or interests that you and the interviewer might share. It could be related to the industry, past roles, or even mutual acquaintances.
- Share Personal Anecdotes: When appropriate, share short stories or experiences that can give the interviewer a glimpse of who you are outside the professional realm. These can often act as memorable touchpoints for the interviewer.
- Express Gratitude: A simple thank you, not just at the end but also when the interviewer provides insights or clarifications, can leave a lasting impression.
12. Ask good questions
It’s not just your interview answers that a hiring manager will be judging you on, but the questions you ask. Show your interest in the position and further differentiate yourself from your co-interviewees by asking the interviewer the right questions.
In a group interview, you want to bring your A-game, but don’t forget also to let your guard down and be yourself. By showing off your unique blend of skills, experience, and personality, you’ll demonstrate how you can contribute to the team while being a great fit with the organization’s culture.