A Career Expert’s Guide to Rocking a Group Interview
Searching for a new job can be an emotional (and sometimes exhausting!) experience. First, you need to design a highly original resume and submit a mistake-free cover letter that totally conveys why you’re perfect for your dream job. You might even have to ace a phone interview before being asked to meet some of the team IRL. While doing all of that can feel like jumping through hoops, being asked to a GROUP interview adds a whole new set of obstacles to the lengthy interview process. We reached out to Avery Roth, the CEO of the Startup Consulting Group and a strategist who specializes in innovation and organizational development, for some tips and tricks on shining during a group interview. Read on for her four best straightforward suggestions that will have you standing out among fierce competition.
1. Share the spotlight. Group interviews can be super challenging, because you’re being judged on your ability to interact with a group, in addition to confidently holding your own. Eep! Avery tells us, “Continually calling for focus on you will make you seem like you AREN’T a team player and could cause you to appear self-centered, which obviously isn’t good. Because most hiring managers want to work with likable colleagues, your ability to share the spotlight is just as important as your smarts or skills.” ‘Cause you won’t be doing yourself any favors if you take a me-me-me approach, make a solid effort to share the spotlight and chime in when it seems natural or you have something really valuable to offer.
2. Show, don’t tell. In a one-on-one interview setting, you get an opportunity to dish the deets on your career to date, personal journey and passions — in addition to talking about WHY the role you’re interviewing for is totally perfect for you. In a group setting, you don’t get this luxury — and, as Avery says, “Talking too much about how great you are in a group setting can quickly come across as cocky or totally tone deaf.” Instead, she says to think about which of your attributes are most valuable and to find the right places in the convo to sneak them in. For example, she says, “If you’re interviewing for a management position, raise a strategic topic, ask the interviewer about it and weigh in with your opinions.” This way, you can demonstrate your knowledge and capabilities in a mature way that completely rises above the fray. Yas girl!
3. Adopt a moderator mentality. Avery reminds us that it’s no secret that being able to involve your peers in discussion while drawing on their strengths is a hallmark of leadership. So how to use it in a group interview? Avery suggests, “If you know who you’ll be interviewing with in advance, scope them out online and make notes about any info you might be able to pull them into the group discussion.”
She also wisely notes that you definitely shouldn’t be afraid to highlight something amazing about another candidate because you think it will take away from your own skills or experience — it’ll do the opposite. “You’ll demonstrate maturity, and an ability to recognize others’ strengths and draw upon them to solve problems.” In addition, Avery says to do your research about the company and drop your new knowledge when it’s relevant. You’ll prove you’re confident and focused on outcomes, rather than distracted by the competition in the room.
4. Let your stories showcase how real you are. You’ve made it in for an interview, so the hiring manager already likes something about your professional cred enough to meet in person. What he or she doesn’t know about you is how you developed your interests, passion and experience. Avery says it’s okay to occasionally share personal stories and tidbits about yourself in careful doses. “You can do this by recounting a success story in a relaxed, casual way and being careful to relate it to the bigger context at hand.” Letting your humanness come through should be a huge complement to the value you can add to the company.
Have you interviewed in a group lately? How’d it go? Tweet us the deets @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)