Employers love using group interviews to assess school leaver candidates. They’re a bit less intense than traditional one-on-one interviews and they can also help recruiters assess things like teamwork skills.
There are many different types of group interview. Each candidate might be asked the same question or asked to give a short impromptu presentation. Alternatively, the group might be given a topic to debate or an exercise to complete. We’ve put together ten general tips to help you knock ‘em dead at your group interview...
1. Think about what the company is looking for
Most companies will have a list of the skills they are looking for in their ideal candidate. It’s your job to show that you have the required attributes during the group interview. You can usually get an idea of these from the company website and any literature on the school leaver programme. Otherwise, the kind of attributes on their wish list might include: teamwork; communication skills; confidence; negotiation skills; ability to give and take criticism; or leadership skills.
2. Speak up
Group interviews are definitely not the place to take a backseat. You don’t want to be a shy wallflower; instead get into the thick of the action and make sure you make a favourable impression on the recruiter.
3. Don’t shout others down
It’s a tricky thing to get right. On the one hand, you want to appear confident and assertive; on the other hand, you don’t want to appear overly dominating. Don’t interrupt others or shout to be heard. It’s the quality of what you contribute in the group interview, not the quantity of what you say. Positive language and behaviour is the way to go.
4. Pay attention
The spotlight isn’t only on you when you’re talking - your actions when others are talking will also come under scrutiny. If you’re disinterestedly staring at your nails or looking bored, you probably won’t impress the recruiter. You should try and look involved and interested, even if you’re insides are curling up with boredom. You don’t want to seem like you’ve got an “attitude problem”.
5. Take the lead
Some companies will use group interviews to assess the leadership qualities of candidates. You might be given a group task to complete or you might be asked to stage a debate. The secret of leadership is not shouting louder than the others, but managing people and engaging everyone in the group. If you feel like someone is being overly domineering, then invite someone who hasn’t said much into the conversation.
6. It’s not dog-eat-dog
School leaver programme candidates shouldn’t act anything like the contestants on The Apprentice. The likelihood is that the employer won’t rush to employ anyone who spent the whole group interview focusing on showing up the others. Be polite to the other candidates and make sure you introduce yourself to everyone before the interview begins.
Like with any interview, you should do your preparation. This includes the logical - checking the time and date, organising your transport, planning your outfit - as well as taking steps so that you're as informed as you can be. Do you research and come armed with questions - it's not going to look good if you only find out what the company actually does at your interview!
8. Don’t get over-heated
A group interview is still a professional environment. Even if you’re invited to debate on a topic, don’t get over-heated. It’s great to show passion and interest, but don’t go overboard. Try and keep your cool. Using humour or even just smiling to diffuse a situation is a good tactic.
9. Be confident
A group interview might put you in a situation that you aren’t used to. In these situations, you’ll just have to try and quash those nerves and project an aura of confidence. Pretty much everyone gets nervous in a job interview, but some people are better at hiding it than others. If the idea of standing up in front of people and speaking freaks you out, then why not embark on some confidence-building exercises before the interview. Have a go at doing ten things which put you out of your comfort zone: whether that’s going up and speaking to someone you haven’t spoken to before or doing something you wouldn’t normally do by yourself.
10. Showcase your communication skills
One of the key things employers will be looking for in school leaver candidates is good communication skills. By this, we mean how you express yourself and interact with others. Simple things like speaking clearly and looking others in the eye can make a world of difference.