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Friday, July 11, 2014

How to Shine in a Group Interview

These days hiring managers aren't always keen to conducting one to one interviews. They look for more and more ways to challenge candidates and ensure they are hiring the right person. One method which has become more common over the years is group interviews, which for certain types of roles is extremely useful to gauge people’s communication abilities. It is also regarded as being less time consuming than interviewing each person individually – you pick the best people from your group interview and then interview them individually.
For candidates however, a group interview can be off putting, particularly if you are not 100% comfortable in this sort of environment.
Show your people skills
Make an effort to get on with everybody even if they are what you would deem ‘competition’. Employers want to know that you have the ability to build a rapport with all sorts of people; after all you will most likely be working in a team and also be dealing with a variety of clients and customers. Bear in mind that sometimes, the process can begin before the actual group session starts. When you are waiting in reception with the other candidates, the chances are that whoever is front of house will be interested in seeing which candidates try and make conversation. They will then pass their observations on to the hiring manager. It’s amazing how many candidates forget that making a good impression isn’t just about dressing smartly and impressing in an interview – every interaction you have from the moment you set foot in the building counts. To this end, you may also want to follow up with an email after the interview to thank them.
Have confidence
Remember that you have been invited to interview because you have already impressed the company; whether it’s through your application or perhaps a telephone interview. Therefore don’t display any doubts over your ability. Be confident when speaking and don’t appear unsure of yourself. However, all of this comes with a caveat –the best people in any industry believe in themselves but there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Make sure you don’t cross that line.
Zero aggression
This follows on from the last point. There is a tendency for these types of interviews to become an ego clash. Everybody wants to show they are the best candidate and this can lead to them trying to force themselves into a ‘leader’ position and almost shout their way through the interview. Let me tell you, this rarely works. I've spoken many times about not needing a hyper aggressive attitude to succeed. It’s important you strike the right balance between showcasing your abilities while still respecting everybody. I wouldn’t want to hire someone that shows a lack of respect to others – so while it is important you voice your opinions, don’t speak over others and don’t dismiss their opinions.
Keep the company in mind
Group interviews are generally designed to assess a candidate’s personality and communication skills, and some companies give tasks which are completely unrelated to them, such as a desert island challenge. When there are questions or tasks which require you to think about the company itself, ensure your research stands out. Whenever I conduct group interviews I am less concerned about things like desert island challenges and more interested in how much the candidates know about Hamilton Bradshaw. Just like you would in a normal interview, relate your answers to the needs of the particular company. This shows that you have done your research, and amidst all the pressures of the interview, are still able to recall your research.
Composure is king
When you are competing with other candidates, some of whom may be extremely talkative, it can be tempting to go over the top in a desperate bid to make an impression when it is your turn. This is the wrong approach to take. It is far better to take a moment and consider what you are going to say. A few sentences of real substance are better than two minutes of waffle. Remember the more people there are in the room, the less time there will be for you to speak - therefore when you get your opportunities, every word is of value.

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