Group Interview Tips: How to Stand Out from the Crowd

Businessman standing out wearing colorful sox

 
Group Interviews are an especially stressful way to interview for a position. Not only do you have to demonstrate why you are the best fit for the job, you have to do it while your competition is in the room doing their best to outshine you. But if you know what an employer is attempting to achieve with a group interview and arrive well prepared, the challenges of trying to stand out from within a group can be used to your advantage.

Companies commonly conduct group interviews to assess the teamwork and interpersonal skills of candidates. They want to see how the interviewees interact, how they work together as a team, and who brings what skills to the table. Prepare for your interview with these assumptions in mind, and then shape how you behave at the interview to best demonstrate to the hiring manager that you have the desired qualities.

 

How to Prepare for a Group Interview

Just as with any other type of interview, solid preparation is one of the best advantages you can give yourself. Employers will notice when you have put serious time and effort in before showing up. “I like to gauge how prepared someone is for the interview itself,” says GreenPal CEO Bryan Clayton, adding, “This shows me they take initiative as to how they can drive the business forward, something we look for in every new team member.” He looks for future employees who can demonstrate how much research they have done on the company and the current business environment, and can articulate how they could contribute to the company’s success. The more advanced preparation you put in to the interview, the more you’ll stand out against other, less-prepared candidates.

Make an effort to arrive at the interview site early. This will allow you to get your bearings, and may offer you chance for some one-on-one time with the hiring managers or other candidates. David Waldren, author of Hire Train Monitor Motivate, suggests seating yourself front and center in the interview room. “Being clearly visible to the hiring organization’s onsite representatives is paramount.“

 

How to Ace a Group Interview

Once you are prepared and in place early, you can focus on standing out in the group interview. We talked to a number of career experts about how jobseekers can best stand out in a group interview. Here’s what they told us.

Be Friendly and a Team Player: In a group interview setting, it may be tempting to be competitive to prove you have an edge over the other candidates. But keep in mind that one of the purposes of a group interview is to assess how you interact with others, reminds Lidia Arshavsky, career strategist and interview preparation specialist at jcstrategic.com. “Don’t hog the conversation”, she warns, “but do speak up enough to get noticed – especially if you have an idea that hasn’t been expressed yet.”

Demonstrate Leadership: In many group interviews, the group is given a hypothetical situation or a task to accomplish together. This is done to see how members work together and who fills what roles. Use this as an opportunity to show your leadership skills. Delegate tasks, try and reach group consensus on issues and make a point of including all members of the group. Be careful not to dominate or force your opinion on the group. “It is less important to be ‘right,’ than to show that you are easy to work with,” notes Arshavsky, “Remain positive and avoid heated arguments or exchanges”

Know your Strengths: Katie Christy, Founder of Activate Your Talent, points out that the best way to stand out in a group interview is focus on painting a complete picture of your unique capabilities and strengths. She suggests taking an online assessment (such as the Gallup StrengthsFinder or VIA Character Strengths) before the interview to identify what your top five unique talents and gifts are. Then, spend some time thinking about how you can utilize these strengths in the job you are seeking, and come up with concrete examples of how you have used them in the past. When questions come up in the group interview, you will be in a good position to highlight your strongest assets. “Using a strengths-based approach to job interviews allows you to stand out by using language that is humble, authentic and passionate,” notes Katie Christy.

Follow-up: To make sure you stand out in the hiring manager’s mind even after the interview, always follow-up with a well-crafted email to your interviewer, thanking them for the opportunity. You can even use this as a chance to further demonstrate your fit for the position. Clayton suggests attaching to your note an article, research or some other item that ties into the discussions at the interview or the industry. This is important, he says, because it shows “ that the candidate is engaged and in tune with what is going on.”

Group interviews can be intimidating, but with the right preparation and attitude you can make sure you don’t get overshadowed. Focusing on being a team player and demonstrating your unique skillsets and strengths, and you will stand out among the crowd.

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