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What Does "Group Interview" Mean?

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Typically, when a person applies to a new job and the company is interested in that person's application, the applicant will then be called in for an interview. Aside from an in-person interview, there are many different types of one-on-one interviews. Sometimes, it can be done over the phone and other times, it can be done online.

But, in addition to one-on-one interviews, some HR departments will also conduct group interviews, which are important to understand and be open to. Group interviews can be less intimidating than one-on-one interviews, but may make it harder to make yourself stand out from the other candidates.

What is the Group Interview Meaning?

A group interview is typically conducted when an employer wants to hire several people in a short amount of time. Not only does this allow the employer to speed up the interviewing process, but it also gives interviewers the opportunity to see how the candidates fair in group settings.

Group interviews are common in industries like retail and hospitality and usually involve one interviewer (maybe two) and several job candidates in one setting. This is not to be confused with a panel interview, which involves several interviewers or people from the company interviewing just one candidate.

The Pros and Cons of a Group Interview

While a group interview may seem unusual if you have never experienced one before, they can be great for those who prefer not to have all the attention on them. One-on-one interviews can be rather anxiety-inducing, and interviewing with other people can have its benefits. Some pros of a group interview are:

  • Everyone is in the same situation.
  • If you make a mistake, it may not be as noticeable.
  • You'll have the opportunity to demonstrate your skills in different ways.
  • Interviewers aren't necessarily looking for the most talkative in the group.
  • If they like you, there's a good chance you'll be hired quickly.
  • You will get a chance to see if you enjoy interacting with your potential co-workers.

Participating in a group interview can be a great alternative for many people. But, for others, it can be more uncomfortable than a typical one-on-one interview, especially if you're an introverted person. There are some other downsides or cons to group interviews too:

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  • You'll have to talk in front of other candidates.
  • You have to make yourself stand out, without being too pompous.
  • You'll have to find a way to make your answers sound unique from the other answers in the room.
  • You may have to do interesting group and team-building activities that may be uncomfortable.

What to Expect in a Group Interview

There are many different types of group interviews, and the best way to prepare yourself is to simply ask your interviewer if there's anything specific you should know beforehand. But, in general, your interviewer will expect you to know what a group interview entails. Therefore, one way you can prepare yourself is by having an idea of what will happen when you walk in the room.

Generally, there could be anywhere from five to 20 people being interviewed at once. This is especially true for a retail business that needs to hire more people around the holiday season, or for restaurants who need a new wait staff. Usually, what will happen is you'll walk into a room with the other candidates. Perhaps you'll have to sign in, and then take a seat somewhere. The seats may be arranged in rows or in a circle.

Next, the interviewer might ask everyone to go around and introduce themselves. Next, the interviewer will present questions and will either have each candidate answer one by one or they will call on random candidates to answer. Lastly, there may be a group problem-solving exercise or group interview activities, in which you'll have to work together with the other candidates and then discuss it afterward.

Fun Group Interview Questions

Though group interviews are quite different from one-on-one interviews, they are similar in that you'll be required to answer what may be some difficult questions. While there's no way to know for sure the types of questions you'll be asked, there are usually some generic questions that are commonly used in group interviews. Many of these tend to be fun group interview questions, or at the very least, more interesting than questions you'll hear in one-on-one interviews:

  • What skills do you think are most important for succeeding in this role?
  • Can you talk about a time that you felt overwhelmed at work and how did you deal with it?
  • Based on what you know of the other candidates in this room, who would you hire and why?
  • How would your co-workers describe you?
  • What would you do if you caught one of your co-workers stealing?

Then, if you do group interview activities, you may get some debriefing questions afterward:

  • What made this team work together well? 
  • What were some of the flaws and ways to improve?
  • Who stood out in this group exercise and why?
  • What was your contribution to the activity?
  • What was the most stressful part of this group activity and how did you cope with the challenges?

How to Make Yourself Stand Out in a Group Interview

Now that you have an idea of what questions you might be asked in a group interview, you'll also want to make yourself stand out. Not only is the interviewer listening for what types of answers you'll give, but they'll also be looking at other attributes, like how you carry yourself or the level of your voice. To make yourself stand out in a group interview (without making yourself the center of attention), there are a few things that you can do:

  • Be friendly and cordial with your fellow candidates. The interviewer will be checking your attitude towards others because this will show how you'll interact with your co-workers when you're actually on the job. 
  • Be professional. Do not try to be funny or sarcastic or draw too much negative attention to yourself.
  • Listen to everyone in the room. Show that you are listening attentively by making eye contact and leaning towards the speaker.
  • Be willing to take the lead, but also, use gestures to indicate to others that they can take the lead if they want.
  • Use purpose in your voice, especially if you are a shy person. Do not start your answer with an apology, and keep your answers short and to the point.

Other Tips for Group Interviews

There are countless tips that you could read up on and study before participating in a group interview. But, at the end of the day, it's important to walk into that room and be yourself, while also showing that you are open to learning new things and you are looking forward to working with others. The majority of communication we make with others is non-verbal, so your interviewers will be looking at everything from your body language to how you've dressed. If you want to have a solid group interview, there are some other things you can do.

Introduce yourself to others casually or formally when you walk in, depending on the type of job you're interviewing for. Listen and pay attention to others when they are speaking, and do your best to remember names and use their names when appropriate. Always involve everyone in the conversation and try to avoid talking only about yourself. Lastly, make sure to follow-up with the interviewer after the group interview to say thank you and reiterate your interest in the position.

About the Author

Hana LaRock has been a content writer for more than five years. As part of her work as a contributor to numerous websites, Hana enjoys helping people find a new path in their lives, whether it involves editing a resume or providing information on finding work abroad.

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