No doubt about it, it is a crowded playing field right now. Just to be part of an interview is a success story and companies are employing more creative tactics to find the right candidate.
One type of initial group interview can be used to thin the crowd if a company is looking for a specific type of personality. When a local college was in start-up mode, they had group interviews complete with role play against the other candidates for the positions of admissions counselor.
Talk about stress. Just meeting one-on-one in an interview is enough to make many people lose sleep but imagine facing a room of candidates where you know the positions are limited and you are asked to work with the others in order to pass the interview! Yikes! If you press too hard, you may be seen as someone too competitive to work on a team but if you don’t showcase your skill sets, you may be eliminated as someone who doesn’t bring value.
Top Tips for Group Interviews with Multiple Candidates
- Don’t monopolize the conversation. As much as you want to be heard, if you are the only one talking, you probably will be cut. Make sure you follow directions, play the roles, or answer the questions while also using your listening skills to hear both the interviewer and the other candidates.
- Don’t be TOO quiet. The wallflower in the corner is not going to be one hired either because the interviewer can’t figure out if you really do know how to do the job.
- Stay on topic. As easy as it is to go off on tangents, keep to the point and listen closely to the interviewer to make sure you are providing value.
- Be creative. The adage of “think outside the box” is over-used but you do need to be the one who thinks beyond the easy answer.
The strategy changes a bit when the interview is conducted with multiple interviewers.Very common these days, the panel can consist of anyone from the hiring manager in the department, co-managers, employees in the department, human resources, and other company officials. Looking for employees to fit the team is part of the panel philosophy and the other focus is to involve the people who will actually be impacted by the hire. Human resources personnel can’t possibly know the intricacies of each department in a company or organization so involving those in the department only makes sense.
Top Tips for Group Interviews with a Panel of Interviewers
- Since you don’t know who the decision-maker is, spend some time making sure you make eye contact and respond to everyone in the room. In some companies, the receptionist is the eyes and ears for the company so don’t dismiss anyone.
- Making sure you have checked your appearance is a smart tip for any interview but with more eyes on you, you need to make sure you have checked out the company dress code in advance and dress for the interview.
- Practice for the interview in advance, role playing potential questions with a friend or family member or employ a professional to help you work through interview question jitters.
- Don’t look bored or annoyed. With attitude being a top decision maker for many companies, you need to drop any feelings you have about the process so that you can focus on your answers and making the best presentation.
Tips for follow-up
What happens after the interview can be as critical as what happens in the interview.
- Even if you think you blew the interview, send a follow-up or thank you letter. The word follow-up is critical because often we think only short thank you. This is the time you need to detail the value you bring to the position. Point out what you learned in the interview and point out what you bring to help reach the company goals or solve the current problem. Put this in writing. E-mail if you think the decision will be made quickly but don’t discount the value of a hand-written note in this busy world of ours.
- Call to follow up. But don’t do it too quickly. This is why your first contact should be in writing. When a company is interviewing multiple candidates, they don’t want to be buried in phone calls. At the same time, being quiet and not contacting could show lack of interest.
- Use the 7-10 day rule. If you space your contacts to the company to show interest, you let them know you are interested without annoying them.
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