Chances are you'll be invited for a group interview at some point during your graduate job search. Here's how to stand out from the crowd.
Group interviews are an increasingly popular method used by graduate employers to assess candidates and may involve group tasks, debates or question and answer sessions. They're particularly prevalent during the hiring process for placements and graduate schemes, given the high volume of applicants, so it's important you're as prepared as you would be for any other interview.
For employers, group interviews provide the opportunity to assess, in person, candidates' skills such as teamwork, leadership and working under pressure. For you, they offer the chance to show your personality, provide evidence of the skills you've written on your CV and demonstrate your genuine interest in the job. You also get to scope out the competition.
If you've not experienced a group interview scenario before, it can be hard to know how to prepare for one. Lucky for you, we've collated a bunch of top tips to ensure you stand out from the crowd and bag yourself the job.
1. Do your research
As with any interview you should always come prepared. If you're not sure where to start with research here's everything you need to know, but in a nutshell, having knowledge of the company and it's notable people, the job role you're applying for and some information about the industry in general, will be helpful.
Perhaps more so than in a one-to-one interview, any nuggets of knowledge you may have found online, in the news or on LinkedIn about the company, that others may not know, will help you stand out and show your interest in the role.
2. Introduce yourself to everyone beforehand
Small talk can be awkward, especially when you're nervous and want to focus on the task in hand, but try to avoid sitting and scrolling through your phone while you wait for the interview to start. Instead, introduce yourself to the rest of the candidates and find out their names - this will be useful when addressing them throughout the interview.
You'll probably be asked to introduce yourself again more formally once the interview starts; come prepared for this. Rehearse a quick summary of yourself beforehand so you're not left stumbling over your words or getting flustered straight off the bat. It might be wise to come with 2 truths and a lie ready too, because no good group interview is complete without that icebreaker.
3. Listen to others and try not to interrupt
During the interview, listen to what other candidates are saying and use their points to inspire your ideas - it'll show you're interested and engaged and comes across as more natural. Body language is useful for this too: sit up straight, nod if you agree with something and use eye contact when you're talking.
Listening to others and letting the conversation guide your own contributions will also prevent you repeating what someone else has said. Regurgitating someone else's thoughts for the sake of speaking won't add anything to the discussion and suggests you're not paying attention. If you're struggling to think of something to say at any point, just sit back and listen instead of forcing out wasted words - at some point someone's idea will spark a thought in you.
It's also important to avoid talking over people as best you can. Finding a balance between talking enough but not too much can be hard, but there's a simple tip that will help this. Make your point when an opportunity opens up, then ask another person what they think - including others and listening to alternative points of view is an important aspect of leadership and demonstrates confidence. Which brings us to our next point...
4. Speak with confidence
Quality versus quantity is important in a group interview. It's less about how much you say and more about the value and relevance of what you say. Particularly if you're a shy person, it's easy to get overwhelmed or panic that you aren't saying enough. As long as when you do speak you're talking with confidence and purpose, an employer will take this into consideration.
If you struggle to make an input once a conversation gets going, try to speak first - this saves you having to slide awkwardly into the conversation once it's in full flow and allows you to make any great points you've thought of before someone says them first. And if someone speaks over you, let them. When they've finished interrupting continue on with what you were saying, but don't fight them for attention. They'll be the only one who comes off badly in this situation.
5. Show your personality
There's no better chance to show your personality to a potential employer than in a group interview. Company culture is an important factor for employers nowadays and as a result, they often observe you at all points of the day. They'll want to see how your personality will fit in with the rest of their employees so whether you're at lunch or completing a group task, make sure you're presenting yourself well.
Be yourself, relax and let your personality shine through. If they decide you don't fit in with what they're looking for, just know that you probably wouldn't have enjoyed working there anyway.
6. Come prepared with questions
Asking questions is essential for demonstrating your interest in the role and gives you a chance to show off your knowledge of the company and job role. Candidates who ask well-considered, relevant questions will stand out over those who don't, so come prepared with a few based on the research you've done. Also, remember that in a group interview the odds of your questions being asked by someone else are high; consider this and ensure you have a few questions ready in case one gets answered.
Now you've got all the tips on how to stand out to employers, we want to know what makes an employer stand out to you?
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