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Why a group interview?
In addition to the obvious time effectiveness in assessing several candidates at the same time, there are several occupations and tasks where it is necessary to evaluate whether a candidate will be able to adapt to the dynamic of a team or a particular task. This cannot be easily assessed in a traditional one to one interview. For instance, if you are applying for a job where sales are involved, the group interview is more effective at checking if you are able to use your skills smartly whilst showing ethics, being able to listen to others and use interaction dynamics to your advantage.
The sequence of events. Outshine the other candidates
INTRODUCTIONS - The first stage of the group interview will involve the introduction and presentation of the company, a general overview of the job and introductions from every candidate attending. The candidates' introduction normally has a set format where candidates will be asked to talk briefly about themselves including for instance the reason why they applied for the job or what they consider attractive or interesting about working for the potential employer. There will often be an ice-breaker question or activity with the aim to relax the candidates and put them in a lighthearted mood so that interaction flows more naturally through the rest of the interview.
Keep in mind that this is the first step of the process and first impressions have a strong impact. If you find difficult to speak in public, let your interviewer know that you are nervous or that you don't have much experience attending this kind of interviews. This way, your potential employer can see that although you may not be proficient or over-confident, you are brave enough to try something new and leave your comfort zone.
THE HEART OF THE MATTER - Once the initial stage is completed, there will be specific questions or a working exercises to resolve in teams or individually. This phase provides a big chunk of information for the employer about the candidates, their professional and social skills. The exercises or questions used in the interview will follow a structured sequence and can also take the shape of case studies where you are asked to provide suggestions or your opinion. Hypothetical situations or case studies allow participants to interact and voice their ideas thus generating a more involved and intense exchange between candidates where sometimes the interviewer(s) would act as facilitators or moderators.
The exercises or questions during the core of the interview are likely to be open and aiming to allow candidates to show their personal beliefs and individual preferences. As there aren't correct or incorrect answers in situations like this, make sure you stick to your personal views rather than try to please your interviewer. The secret of a right answer in this context is that it is well sustained by clear reasons or statements. This allows the interviewer to understand your point of view and demonstrate your clarity of mind. Even if you ideas seem to be opposite to the majority, your choice is valid and a reasonable explanation could even end up making others change their mind and supporting your opinion. On the other hand, if you agree with what other candidates have said and find it difficult to set yourself apart from what others have said, use concrete examples that allow you to demonstrate that your agreement is well sustained and that you can apply the concepts and ideas into real situations.
THE CONCLUSION - The interview will end with a round up of what has been done during the session and general information about the rest of the recruitment process. This may include a time frame for the employer to contact you back and let you know whether you have been successful.
As this is the end of the interview make sure you are clear about what is going to happen next. Any changes in your personal details need to be noted by interviewers at this stage. For instance, if you are moving or changing mobile numbers, or will be away for a few days let the interviewer know this is the case. It is also important to thank the interviewer and the other candidates.
POINTS TO KEEP IN MIND THROUGHOUT THE PROCESS
- During an interview of any kind you need to keep an open body language and eye contact.
- Keep in mind and use the names of the people attending the interview whether they are other candidates or your interviewer.
- Listen attentively to what others say whether they are other candidates or your interviewer. Other candidates may be offering opinions that could be explored further when it's your turn to talk. What the interviewer is saying will prove fundamental to achieve a successful outcome from your interview.
- Avoid interrupting. If someone is explaining an idea, wait before voicing your opinion. This allows you to elaborate on your comments and offer a more relaxed and clear opinion when it's your turn to speak.