How to Stand Out in a Group Interview

group interview

Group interviews, often described as a very specific form of torture, have risen in popularity over the years.

Interviews in which several candidates for the same job met with one or more interviewers at the same time can be very difficult to navigate.

With an increased importance on office dynamics, they’re probably not going away anytime soon. Usually, but not always, you will know if your interview is in a group format. Here are few tips to get ready:

Introduce Yourself. A lot of times interviewees will be in the room together before the official interview begins. Resist the urge to check your phone and instead introduce yourself to the other candidates. It can definitely put you more at ease once you realize the others are ‘real people, too’ and when the interviewers come in and see you facilitating the conversation, they’ll see you’re not afraid of networking, meeting people and being assertive—all good things in the workplace.

Let go of, “What if he says what I was gonna say?” If you’re all there for similar positions, there are going to be threads of similarity in the answers. It’s gonna happen, so you might as well let go of the idea that all of your answers will be completely original. However, there are ways to come off as an original thinker, even if the content of your answer is not…

Use Plenty of Examples.  This is one seemingly obvious way to sound original, but surprisingly, not one many people take advantage of. If an interviewer asks you about your short and long-term career goals, someone who goes ahead of you may have a similar answer. It’s important to acknowledge that person (involving the others in the room through this and the aforementioned ‘introduce yourself’ tip shows confidence, that you can easily build rapport and relationships and that you give credit where credit is due). Once that acknowledgement occurs, you can build upon what was already said with your own examples of why those are your goals and what you have done and plan to do to achieve them.

Prepare for Common Questions: It’s a group interview, so there are going to be common questions. And specific fields will have questions specific to those fields. Make sure you do a Google search for some common types of questions per your field. Generally speaking, these are questions like:

What are your short-term and long-term career goals?
What’s your biggest weakness?
Describe a time where you had a conflict with a co-worker. How did you handle it?
Tell us what you know about us and why you want to work here.
Tell us about yourself.
Why are you the right applicant for this position?

Be Yourself: When I used be in my corporate role and would interview people, the biggest mistake I saw was when people would literally read me their resume when I asked them to about themselves. Granted, that is a vague question, but in the reality of the interviewing world, not one that is going away anytime soon. Talk instead about your passion for the type of work, what led you to this path, and why this industry/role is important to you. I could rarely recall the details about a person who told me in deep detail where he went to school and his summa cum laude credentials, but could always recall the candidate who told stories about how his passion for the work compelled him worked another job exploring a new field part-time or on a volunteer basis. Find ways to get your passion to come out.

About the Author

Jill Ozovek is a certified career coach in New York City. Her practice focuses on helping Millennial and mid-career women find and develop careers that align with their passions. For more info on your own career change and Jill’s Career Change Kitchen course, click here.