Have you ever attended a job interview only to discover that 50 others have arrived to be interviewed AT THE SAME TIME!!! Whether you are forewarned or surprised, a group interview can be very confronting and very intimidating. So one must be prepared. However it is not enough to simply roll with the scouts motto, you must also find a way to stand out.
Standing out in a one-on-one interview is not so difficult. You are not competing for attention and can sell your wares unimpeded. In a group scenario however you have the added pressure of knowing that you are being compared and judged with the person immediately to your right…and your left. It’s enough to rattle the most composed candidate. Yet therein lays the trick. Be poised, be confident and be ready for anything. Even if you are shaking on the inside, put on a poker face.
There is no time to be shy when one finds themselves in the midst of a group interview, yet in this moment confidence can be difficult to project. But the room is full of nervous candidates. A firm handshake, a smile and eye contact can lead the charge to leaving a lasting impression. Follow through by speaking with purpose and knowledge and asking insightful and well prepared questions. And keep in mind too that one does not have to be an extrovert to leave an imprint.
Part of being prepared for a group assessment is knowing the job role and the hiring company inside out. Understand the skills and abilities the job demands and how you can demonstrate these. For instance, if they’re after someone with ambition highlight the extra study and volunteer positions you’ve undertaken to grow your knowledge. There will be opportunities for you to emphasise your unique selling points, you just have to be clever enough to recognise these when they arise.
One of the first moments you will have to make yourself known is when you are asked to introduce yourself. Or someone else. Don’t enter reception, take a seat and suddenly become a mute. Interact with the other candidates, demonstrate your social skills and tell an interesting story about yourself. If someone is asked to introduce you in the early stages of the interviewing process, your competition may just write you a free ticket to Standoutsville. Oh and FYI, they are watching you, from the moment you enter the building! Don’t be fooled into thinking the interview begins when the formalities do. Imagine if the role centred on customer service, why would they not observe you in the pre-stages? In the event that you are actually asked to give a spiel about yourself, have your pitch ready – about three minutes. You may want to cover some basics such as your experience and education, your aspirations and achievements. Be engaging though, not boisterous, unless of course this is a natural part of who you are. And that certainly is key, be who you are. You may not think you are a particularly intriguing individual, but a little thought in the preparation stage does give you time to not only plan and practice your speech, but determine how you can package your bio in a manner that is memorable. Maybe your story reads a little like a Queen’s song list…I want to break free… Another one bites the dust…Under pressure…I want it all…Don’t stop me now…with a Queen ‘best of’ in hand, your bio could be unforgettable!
Of course no good group assessment can take place without a little role playing. This may take some practice with friends if you’re not confident. Generally these activities are designed to test your teamwork and problem solving skills and the potential of your leadership qualities. Don’t be surprised if the exercises are designed to generate some heated debates. Keep your poise, respect others ideas and opinions, listen and don’t speak over people, and most of all, be genuine. Oh and don’t be a sheep and follow consensus if you don’t agree. A logically stated objection demonstrates confidence and the ability to remain calm and perform in a pressured environment. It may rate particularly well if they are looking for creative thinkers and leaders. Other challenges may incorporate mathematics, psychometric or English tests. A little harder to prepare for, but nonetheless there are some online tests that one can undertake.
While it is not every day that you find yourself walking into a group interview, don’t believe that you will never have to prepare for such an occasion. Every interview you attend is potentially a golden opportunity. Why would you not want to give yourself the best chance of succeeding? Avoid being caught off guard by determining why you are the best fit for the role, and how you can demonstrate this in a unique and impressive way that leaves your name etched into the memory of the interviewers. Avoid becoming a distant blur by asking yourself, how’re you going to rise above the crowd?