Look for enough jobs, and it’s bound to happen – the dreaded group interview. It’s an intimate gathering of you, at least one hiring manager (and here’s the best part), and another one or two job seekers. Whether you are competing for one open position or for several, it can feel awkward. The worst part is that you probably won’t know beforehand to expect this type of interview. Nevertheless, most advice for traditional interviews is still in play, but you need to know a few more tips for a group interview – whether it’s a group of interviewers or interviewees – or both!
Do your homework.
Never walk into an interview without reading up on the company and/or the person with whom you are interviewing. You will have a better understanding of the culture, the goals, and the challenges the company is facing. And if you can reference that knowledge base in your responses, the interviewers will sit up and take notice, especially if you are the only interviewee to do so.
Show up early.
The last interview I went to was in a 1940’s era former TB sanitarium. By the time I was shown the waiting room, I had climbed three flights of stairs, gone down four labyrinthian hallways, and made a joke to my escort about leaving a trail of breadcrumbs behind me. (I know, it was a lame joke.) I also was grateful for a few minutes to catch my breath and do a mirror check before the next interviewee came in a few minutes later, flustered and flushed. The interviewer took one look at him and offered him a glass of water. No one wants to be memorable because the interviewer is afraid he is going to have a heart attack. An extra ten minutes would have given him a chance to get himself together.
Prep Your Intro and Exit
At the beginning of the interview, you will be given an opportunity to introduce yourself. Include your name, your most recent position, and something nice about your fellow candidates. For example, “I am Sue, and I have been a cardiac care nurse for 14 years. I have been the cardiac nurse manager with XYZ company for seven years. I have a reputation for having a keen eye for detail and excellent clinical skills. I am excited about being here to learn about this opportunity, along with my talented peers.” You’ll need a similar spiel at the end for why you are the best candidate for the job.
Be a Leader
Be confident, and unless the interviewer specifically directs a question to another candidate, don’t be afraid to lead the responses. Not every time, of course, but this is an opportunity to demonstrate your leadership skills. Steven Kosakow, a senior recruiter, explains, “I always want to see if the interviewees makes everyone feel special during the interview. Do they make eye contact with everyone? Do they include everyone in their response? Do they get nervous? Do they know how to manage the conversation?”
You also need to play nice. Don’t talk over the other candidates, or worse yet, give any indication that the other candidate’s answer is anything other than interesting. Don’t roll your eyes, gaze out the window, check your cellphone or watch (who wears a watch anymore?) or do anything that indicates you aren’t a good team player.
See the Big Picture
An article for Forbes once suggested that every job interview boils down to these three questions:
- Can you do the job? Do your skills, experiences, and attitude lend themselves to successfully handling this particular position?
- Will you love the job? Do you have a passion for what you do, and not just for the paycheck?
- Can we stand working with you? Do you play well with others?
Keep those points in mind as you prepare for your interview, and it won’t be long before you are fielding job offers.
Interview with recruiter Steven Kosakow
Top Executives Agree there are Only Three Key Job Interview Questions
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