As I’ve mentioned many times in other articles like this one, in today’s hiring environment, employers are trying to find ways to streamline the hiring process to more quickly and efficiently locate, identify and hire the right candidate for their open positions. One way to do this is with the group interview.
In a group or mass interview, you, along with all the other candidates selected by the employer for the same position, are herded into a room like cattle and simultaneously interviewed by one or more interviewers. The point being is to see how candidates choose to stand out from each other, their communication skills, how they function in a group they do not know, the impression they make on others and if they can demonstrate the characteristics of working in a team.
For some, group interviews can be a pretty intimidating, unsettling and degrading experience. However, many employers who use group interviews say it’s an efficient way to rank candidates in terms of cultural fit, especially for jobs that require dealing with the public and have heavy customer contact which requires candidates to have the ability to think on their feet, keep their cool, solve problems and bring in the business.
As with any other type of interview, you’ll start being evaluated the moment you walk in the door; the way you interact with the receptionist, fellow group interviewees in the waiting room and interviewers, how you take criticism, whether you take on a leadership role and involve less communicative group members is all a reflection of how you’ll be can expected to work with others.
Most importantly though, resist the urge to pull out your phone and start reading e-mails; instead, walk around and introduce yourself to the interviewers if they are in the room and the other interviewees; just make small talk, be polite and engaging.
Tips for Group Interviews
- It is important to be seen as an active participant rather than merely an observer. Contribute your views and ideas while also listening to the other candidates.
- Avoid dominating the conversation by giving others in the group a chance to contribute; don't interrupt anyone while they are speaking.
- Whenever possible give praise and acknowledge contributions from other candidates.
- Avoid conflicts so you appear do not uncooperative and unprofessional.
- Be aware of your body language as this is something that will be carefully observed. Make sure you are sending the right non-verbal messages.
- Make eye contact with everyone at some point by not focusing all your attention on one person.
- Send a Thank You note to each interviewer as soon as possible after the interview.