Let’s take a look at two different types of group interviews that you might experience during the course of your graduate applications. One of these is the group interview, where you are with a number of your fellow candidates; the other is the panel interview, where you are interviewed by more than one interviewer.
- Introductions: It’s normal in a group review scenario for you to be asked to introduce either yourself or someone else in the group. To make sure you aren’t stumbling about, prepare your own intro beforehand. This will allow you to introduce yourself fluently, brief someone else on how to introduce you, and / or give yourself a template with which to introduce anyone else. What you say should depend on the level of job that you are applying for, but usually you should talk about where you come from, your qualifications and something personal – like a hobby. Personalising your introduction will make you stand out a little and not sound bland.
- You are being watched: One thing to remember is that you are being monitored from the time that you check-in – especially for your interaction with people. So when you arrive, make sure that you are prepared, but also make sure you introduce yourself to your fellow candidates and find out a little bit about who they are. When talking to fellow candidates, remember to keep your end of the conversation positive and confident.
- Interview etiquette: During the interview be sure to be inclusive, interactive and try and speak up at the beginning of discussions a couple of times – but not every time. The inclination in this situation is often that you have to outshine everybody else, but actually interviewers will look for you to express your own opinions while also including others.
- The social interview: Sometimes with group interviews, interviewees are encouraged to stay overnight and go out to dinner and drinks with people from the company. In these situations, it is important to remember that you are still being watched – so don’t drink too much!
So to recap, here’s what assessors are looking for in a group interview:
- Asking relevant questions
- Getting involved in tasks
- Allowing everyone to have their say
- Being articulate and able to get your ideas across
- Appropriate behaviour
The Panel Interview
With the panel interview, the normal advice for any other interview also applies:
- Greet each of the interviewers personally
- Shake hands firmly
- Maintain eye-contact throughout
- Use the interviewers names in the way that they have introduced themselves
When there is more than one interviewer you can often feel like one or more of them is negative towards you. Try and engage especially with these potentially negative people, to try and win them round – however this is not always possible. Don’t feel too discouraged by negativity, as the interviewers will often be trying a good cop, bad cop scenario.
You should also try and address your answers to the entire panel, not just the person who asked you the question. Start off by addressing your answer to the person who asked the question, then after a minute or so start making eye contact with the rest of the panel. When it comes to asking your own questions, try and ask each question to the specific person who you feel is most relevant to that topic.
Good luck with your interviews. As long as you have done your preparation they should go well. If you have questions, please feel free to contact me.