How to Master a Group Job Interview
In a group interview, you’ll find yourself center stage before a large crowd of perhaps 5 to 12 questioners. A group interview may also be called a panel, board, team, collective, or committee interview. Usually, these people are from the department where you would work, or they may come from various departments throughout the organization.
You wouldn’t be at this expensive meeting (think of all the salaries for the group’s time) if you hadn’t already been screened to be sure your qualifications are acceptable. These people are gathered to see whether they like you and whether you’ll fit into their operation.
Group interviews highlight your interpersonal skills, leadership, and ability to think on your feet and deal with issues in a stressful setting. The purpose of a group interview is not only to hear what you say, but to see what behaviors and skills you display within a group.
Following are some tips on how to master a group interview:
Greet each person, handing out a fresh copy of your resume. Appear confident. Make a quick seating chart to help you remember names.
Before you answer a question, smile, thank everyone for inviting you to meet with them, and then begin your answer, which will probably be “You asked me to tell you about myself. . . .”
Should you try to identify the leader and direct most of your remarks to that person? Not necessarily. The boss may be the quiet observer in the corner. Play it safe — maintain eye contact with all committee members. When your curtain goes up, play to a full house!
Ask questions. Periodically summarize important points to keep the group focused. Use a notebook to record several simultaneous questions, explaining that you don’t want to omit responding to anyone’s important concern.
When the interview is over, thank the group as though you just finished a speech. Following is a sample exit response:
Thank you for having me here today. I enjoyed being with you. This interview confirmed my research indicating that this company is a good place to work. I’ll look forward to hearing from you, and hopefully, joining you.