The entire process of giving an interview is nerve-wracking in itself, but imagine doing it in a group. Group interviews and discussions are fairly common in educational institutions, but organisations also conduct them on a frequent basis. Group interviews are generally held for high-pressure jobs, wherein the need to work in and as a part of team is paramount. The stakes are higher than in an individual interview, because in addition to proving your value, you have to prove that you’re better than others.
Typically, a group interview consists of one or more panellists, and a bunch of candidates. Broadly, group interviews are of two types: Panel and Project. Panel Interviews generally include discussing a topic or a challenge verbally, and reaching a consensus, whereas Project interviews involve team(s) of prospective candidates actually undertaking a real or fictitious challenge. In the former, social skills, communication skills, listening skills, leadership skills, analytical and articulation skills are at test, whereas in the latter, in addition to all of these, management skills, problem-solving skills and team spirit is also observed. Conducting group interviews is proving to be popular with organisations for several reasons, for they are cost-effective, quick, and provide ample opportunities to compare candidates, and then select the best one.
Acing a group interview is not an easy task, and will require you to be at your very best. In addition to having knowledge and skills, your social skills will determine if you actually qualify for the next round. We have put together some simple and basic areas to focus on, if you are due to appear for a group interview:
At the beginning of group interviews, the facilitator asks everyone to introduce themselves to each other. Prepare a short 15-20 second introduction; pitching who you are well in advance. You’d be surprised how many people are caught off-guard with this simple task, and end up making the wrong first impression.
Don’t forget the basics
A group interview is still an interview; hence, all the regular rules apply here as well. Research the organisation and your job role diligently, dress smart, do not be late under any circumstances, and always listen to what the other person is saying before you begin answering.
Walk a tightrope
During the interview or discussion or project, you need to perfect your balancing act. Your ideas need to stand out from the rest, but you shouldn’t be dominating the discourse; you should be calm, but not quite; you should be confident, but not aggressive. Your body language must not be defensive or confrontational, but must also not be withdrawn and disconnected.
Maintain your demeanour
Pay attention to what others are saying, and do not cut across when someone else is speaking. Do not repeat what you have already said, and substantiate your point with data or proof. Defend a different point of view, without coming across as arrogant, and do not use a confrontational tone or hand gestures towards anyone. Make notes, ask questions, and build on what others are saying, but do not deviate from the topic.
Take a moment to thank the facilitators after the interview, and send thank-you emails to everyone who interviewed you – with the correct spelling of their names. You may mention a line or two about how you found the discussion, and sum it up.
Towards the end of the interview or discussion, grab the opportunity to sum up the discussion, if you feel confident doing so. If done well, your chances of success will definitely go up. One might assume that outgoing people will be naturally better than quieter and reserved ones at such interviews, but in reality, this isn’t always the case. Keeping your nerves calm and composed, and treating the entire exercise like a regular conversation will help. With the correct attitude and practice, anyone can shine in group interviews. The idea is to understand and believe in what makes you unique, and project it in the best possible manner.