Any interview is scary enough, without being interviewed in a group. But these days, many companies are turning to group interviews as a time- and cost-effective way of using their own human resource managers’ time and filling more than one post at once.
How to stand out from the other interviewees in a group interview so that you are the one chosen for the job is a challenge. Here are a few dos and don’ts:
Arrive in good time
Punctuality in an employee is highly desirable. Leave home early enough to be absolutely sure you get to the interview on time. Arriving late will make you stand out – but in the wrong way.
Another advantage of arriving early is that you can meet the other candidates, and get a sense of the competition. When chatting to them, you may learn something useful about the job.
And a final advantage is if you did not know that you were going to be interviewed in a group beforehand. Arriving early will give you the time you need to calm down and collect your thoughts.
Remember to prepare something to say about yourself
Usually in these group situations, the interviewer will ask everyone to introduce themselves. This may be by way of an icebreaker, but it could also just be going around the table. Prepare in advance how you are going to present yourself.
This is a good opportunity to make a good impression. You could achieve this by saying something funny, but you should test out what you are going to say before to make sure it really is funny and not offensive in any way.
You could also mention a hobby or something that will make you memorable to the interviewer – ask friends or family is it is appropriate to mention that particular hobby.
Pay attention to how you look
Don’t dress up in work clothes you would not normally wear. Look presentable and appropriately dressed for the kind of company to which you’re applying.
Make sure your hair and nails are presentable too.
Pay attention to good manners
- Be courteous to the other candidates and the interviewer.
- It is better to use neutral language. For example, don’t refer to another candidate as “mate” or “dude”.
- Never swear, or say something that could offend any one’s race, culture, sexual orientation or religion. Do not give your political views.
- Sit up straight. Don’t slouch, or sit in the chair as if you were at a friend’s home.
- Switch off your cell phone, and don’t check it at all during the interview.
- Don’t let your mind wander.
Interviewers remember people who are inappropriate, or racist, or who use vulgar language – for the wrong reasons. Make sure you do not stand out in that way.
Be prepared to answer questions about the company and the job
The fact that you did homework for the interview by researching the company and the job will in itself make you stand out. It shows that you really want the job and were prepared to spend time educating yourself about it. You can research the company by reading newspapers or going online.
Also, it’s important to have read the job description thoroughly and have a good understanding of what the specific job you’re applying for entails.
In this way, you’ll be able to answer any questions about why you want this job; what you think you can bring to it; why you think you are the best candidate, what you know about the company culture, among other questions.
Listen to the interviewer and to the other candidates
- Be alert. Although you’re there to be interviewed, you need to be able to show that you are able to listen to information and instructions.
- Make eye contact with the speaker, whether it is the interviewer or another candidate.
- Take a note pad and a pen, and take notes, if appropriate.
- Don’t interrupt while someone is speaking, and don’t speak over anyone.
- When other interviewees speak, listen intently to what they say. That way you won’t repeat what they say, and if someone says something you agree with you, you can say so. If someone says something you disagree with, you can politely say: “I have a different take on that…”
You will stand out if you ask appropriate questions at the appropriate time. Here are some tips to asking questions:
- Have your list of questions prepared before you go. If they are asked by someone else, don’t ask the same question.
- Only ask questions if the interviewer invites you to.
- Don’t interrupt the speaker. Only ask a question if the speaker invites you to.
As much as you may desire a job, there is no guarantee that you will get it. But being prepared, listening, asking thoughtful questions and displaying a good attitude will all help you stand out in a group interview.