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The Art of Mastering the Group Interview

by | Jan 20, 2021 | Business, Student Life

As a job seeker, you tailored your resume for the job, you created a fantastic cover letter, and now you are contacted by the hiring manager that you got a job interview! 

You notice that it indicates that it is a group interview. Or, worse, you are surprised when you walk in that it is a group interview. 

No need to fear, they can go very well if you have the tools and knowledge on how to master them. 

What is a Group Interview?

Man and woman speaking at a table.
Photo by Amy Hirschi on Unsplash

A group interview is when the interview is beyond just one interviewer and one interviewee. They typically last somewhere between thirty-minutes and three hours. 

If you have never experienced a group interview, it can be confusing at first. If caught off guard, it can be easy to be swept into the background and overwhelming to speak up. 

Types of Group Interviews

1. Panel Interview

This interview is when multiple employees from the company ask you, the candidate questions. This group of employees will usually be someone who would be your supervisor, a possible future co-worker, a human resources person, and the hiring manager. 

This interview usually takes place in a conference room, with you being the center of attention. 

While this is a type of group interview, it is not the most common type. 

2. Multiple Job Candidate Interview 

The most common type of group interview is multiple job candidate interviews. This is when there are multiple people interviewing for the same position. 

This does not mean that only one of you will get the position though. Sometimes companies are looking to build a new team such as a sales team or customer service team. 

During a multiple job candidate interview, the group will answer standard interview questions, hypothetical questions, and do activities with the other candidates.

Why Companies Choose to do Group Interviews

A group collaborating together in a conference room.
Photo by Mario Gogh on Unsplash

Companies choose to do group interviews over a traditional interview for roles that require teamwork, high-stress environments, problem-solving issues on the spot, or have heavy customer interaction. 

Common industries that use group interviews are food service, hospitality, and retail. 

They save the company a lot of time, particularly when they have multiple spots for a position open. It shows how different job applicants will work with others in a group setting and allows for easy comparison. 

How to Prepare for a Group Interview

A man speaking with his hands with a group in the background.
Photo by Headway on Unsplash

For every interview, you should research the company and the people. But, for a group interview, this is particularly important because it gives you a leg up if you know more about the company than another person in the group interview. 

You still want to focus on understanding the common interview questions because they will be asked. Your answers should stand out. Plan to share something unique about you so you can be remembered among the other job candidates. 

At the end of the interview, you will want to prepare questions to ask the interviewer. For the group interview, you will want to rank the importance because chances are there will only be time for one question per interviewee. 

To bring to the group interview:

  • Resume copies
  • Pen and notepad
  • References information
  • Questions for the interviewer 
  • A folder or briefcase with these materials in

The Group Interview Process and Group Interview Tips

A group of people watching a presentation being given.
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Group interviews can be unpredictable because you do not know what will happen during the interview. Unlike traditional interviews, where it is a question and answer style interview, group interviews can include multiple questions and answer portions, activities, and break into one-on-one interviews. 

Possible Group Activities

  • Employer presentation 
  • Work Simulation exercises  
  • Skills or Behavior Assessments
  • Task Assessments 

Group Interview Questions

The Common Interview Questions:

1. Can you tell me about yourself?

2. How did you hear about this position?

3. Why do you want this job?

4. What is your greatest weakness/strength?

The group interview questions will assess specific skills for the role. It will depend on the type of role, but they are generally looking for problem-solving, interpersonal communication, and teamwork.

The Group Interview Specific Questions:

1. Are you a leader or a follower?

2. Are you a team player?

3. How do you problem solve?

4. How would you respond to an unhappy customer?

5. What would you do if X happened?

6. How would you respond if you caught a coworker/customer stealing?

Following activity questions:

1. What do you feel like you brought to the team?

2. What caused your team to fail or succeed at the task?

Group Interview Tips

  • Go into the room and answer with a lot of confidence.
  • Use your ears more than your mouth.
  • Wait your turn.
  • Smile and use eye contact. Your overall body language should be friendly. This can be hard to remember when nervous.
  • Use manners towards everyone. Again, this can be hard to remember when nervous.
  • Be a team player. Do not slip into the background or let others speak for you.
  • Remember to praise other team members when in a group and make sure they are all included in an activity.
  • Send a thank you letter to the recruiter and any others that you spoke with during the interview.

With going in prepared and keeping in mind our tips, you should leave with giving them a good impression of you. For more information on resumes, cover letters, internships, and more check out the Scholars blog and podcast.

About Scholars

Scholars helps companies build engaging candidate experiences at scale. Create personalized journeys for all of your candidates from application through onboarding.

About Scholars

Internships and early-career jobs are unlike any others. They are often accepted months, if not years, in advance of the start date leaving plenty of time for candidates to change their minds and decide to work elsewhere, costing your team time and money.

There are two ways that have been proven to decrease renege rates for any company: keeping candidates engaged by sharing personalized information and helping them make connections with their future teammates. Companies use Scholars to accomplish both of these at scale.