No. 1 Tip For Acing A Group Interview
Group interviews are becoming more popular with employers these days for several reasons.
First, it expedites the interviewing process. Instead of being at the employer for 4 hours meeting different people, or, even worse, making you come back for several rounds of interviews, they can have all the key decision makers in the room interviewing collectively.
Second, it lets the panel interviewing you hear the same answers to interview questions at the same time, which means they can discuss their thoughts about your candidacy based on the same interview experience.
And finally, group interviews let an employer see how well you do under pressure.
As far as preparing for a group interview, all the same basics for getting ready for a one-on-one interview apply. Study the company, expect to answer behavioral questions, and create a list of questions to ask in advance. There is only one additional factor that should be considered when preparing for a group interview -- and it also happens to be the most important.
No. 1 Tip: Treat the interview as a business meeting where the interviewers are our clients.
In a group interview, interpersonal dynamics get complicated. In other words, you have to assess and respond to a variety of personalities. This can seem overwhelming, but if you follow a few rules, you will be able to nail that group interview and get the job.
Remember that different personalities make up a team. You're going to always find at least one really happy person on the panel, at least one really serious person on the panel, and one or more who seem to not really have an interest in being there. You shouldn't try to alter your style to suit them all. When you try to alter your style for each person in the room, you look like you have multiple personalities -- and that won't get you hired.
Don't forget that everyone in that room is equally important. While some may have bigger titles, or more relevant roles (i.e., one would be our co-worker, one's our potential boss, and one's our potential boss' boss), they all should be treated the same. When you answer questions, make eye contact with each one as a way to say, "You are a team and I intend to treat you all with the same level of respect."
Keep in mind that they are part of a tribe you want to join. It's important that you make the case throughout the interview that you respect and admire the team, but that you are also confident you bring something to them that they need. It's on you to prove that you'd be a valuable asset to the organization. By tying in examples of how your efforts would help each person on the panel uniquely, you will show that you plan to use your skills and abilities to every team member's benefit. In short, you can be of value to each panel member -- and that makes you the one they should want to hire.
Group interviews can actually work in your favor, as long as you keep in mind that it's up to you to show every member of the panel how your business-of-one will serve them well.
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J.T. O'Donnell is a career and workplace expert who founded the top-ranked career advice site, CAREEREALISM.com. In 2009, she launched CareerHMO, the first on-line career care membership site which specializes in curing chronic career pain.
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