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Group or panel interviews have become increasingly common and necessary for companies trying to evaluate whether job candidates will make a good fit for the team and culture. While you can use some techniques from one-on-one interviews to make a good impression in front of a panel, several points are specifically important to group interview success.
Engage the Group
A major reason companies use group interviews is to gauge your ability to interact comfortably within the group. Along with assessing your basic group or teamwork attitude, the panel often includes potential colleagues who want to see how well you fit into their team. Make eye contact with each panelist to engage with them. Address them individually and as a group to show your ability to communicate on more than one level.
Learn Their Names
If possible, learn the names of the panelists ahead of time. If you can't get their names ahead of time, pay close attention to each of their names during introductions. Commit their names to memory, using whatever memory tricks work best for you. Using each person's name as you receive and respond to questions helps you establish a personal connection and will impress the panel.
Watch the Dynamics
In a group interview, the panelists might be colleagues of equal job status or managers and subordinates in a given department. Although you want to interact with each member, you should also watch for the dominant voices by observing and monitoring verbal and nonverbal communication. If you find a dominant voice, make sure you give him extra emphasis and attention. When the group deliberates, the dominant voices can often pull more weight in the final decision.
Questions and Thank Yous
You have a couple opportunities toward the end of the interview to make a final, effective impression on each group member. One thing you can do is ask specific questions of each group member, perhaps referencing something from one of their earlier questions. Additionally, when you thank the interviewers, express your appreciation, reiterate your interest in the job and acknowledge each panelist with a handshake and personal goodbye.
Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.
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