These are often used by larger companies with a number of positions to fill. They usually consist of a presentation about the company, its culture, employee benefits, an overview of where they rank in the market place and their key goals. This is sometimes followed by a Q&A session.
After this there are a number of ways the interview can proceed. Some sit down and speak briefly with each candidate whilst others break into smaller groups. You will most likely be asked the same series of questions so that candidates are assessed against the same criteria.
If you are broken into smaller groups you will usually be asked to conduct work related assessments. For instance, you could be given a task to complete and then present your work to the larger group. These tasks are set to observe you ability to work in a team, as well as assess your interpersonal skills, leadership abilities, etc.
Sometimes candidates let their guard down in group interviews because they don’t feel as though they are being as scrutinised as in an individual interview. Don’t fall into this trap. You will be watched from the minute you enter the room – your body language, interaction with other candidates and communication skills will be assessed.
A pitfall for many people in group interviews is a lack of preparation. Even though it is not a one-on-one situation, you will be given questions and tasks related to the main criteria of the job. Review the job description and make yourself familiar with the key competencies. Review your background and think about your achievements and areas where you meet those competencies.
Be prepared to stand up and introduce yourself to the group. I have actually seen candidates get up and leave the room and never return when this happens! Don’t be scared – we’re all people and you’re not about to be eaten alive! Put a big smile on your face, stand tall and speak in a clear, confident voice so that others can hear. This is a big test of your confidence and ability to handle stress.
Be polite, professional and friendly. Introduce yourself to those around you when you sit down.
During Q&A time make sure you ask a relevant question. In group interviews many people become shy about speaking in front of others. Make yourself stand out for the right reasons.
In group activities:
Listen attentively and contribute to the discussion without overriding others.
If someone makes a point you wanted to raise, don’t say something like “I was going to say the same as Bob”. Say, “I agree with Bob’s point” and then add and expand on it.
Don’t get into power struggles or personality clashes. You don’t have to spend your life with these people. You have been put with them for an assessment. That being said, you are being watched intently to see how you cope in these situations, so put your game face on and your best foot forward.
Be prepared for role-play activities e.g. good customer/bad customer scenarios. I’ve yet to meet a person who actually likes these activities. However, they are a part of the selection process and your ability to contribute will be noted.