If you're a job hunter, you have to remember that job interviews are not all the same. Some job interviews not only require you to answer somewhat stressful questions directly from your interviewer, but they can also require you to face a group of co-interviewees and (technically) compete with them by practically standing out among the crowd.
When I was President of the Virginia Education Association (2008-2012), I often sat on the side of the table with individuals who were responsible for bringing new people into our organization. We took that responsibility very seriously. Making the wrong choice is expensive not to mention heart-wrenching for all parties concerned. We couldn’t always avoid making mistakes, but there were certain attributes and characteristics that made some candidates stand out and shine compared to their counterparts convincing us to take a chance on them.
1. Answer questions.Preparing for regular interviews is highly advised, but when it comes to group interviews, you HAVE to prepare. You have to think about every possible question you could be asked, and you have to be able to pull relevant stories that provide details and examples. Do your homework. Get a list of questions that could be asked. Work on body language, and facial expressions. Write out answers. Give quantifiable answers, where you PROVE what you’re saying about yourself.
2. Ask for input.You want this to almost turn into a dynamic group discussion. You want them to have a chance to engage in the conversation. Don’t be afraid to say something ask the panel something back. You could ask things like:
- “Has something similar to this happened here?”
- “What’s been your experience with this?”
3. Articulate what you hear.Reframe the question. You could say, for example, “So, if I hear you correctly, what you mean is….” When you paraphrase what you’ve been asked/what they’ve shared, it demonstrates that you’re a good listener and that you understand them.
4. Apply what you hear.Incorporate what they’ve told you into your answers. Make them feel like you already ‘get’ them, and that you’re already apart of the team. Mention names. For example, you could say,“Bill, you talked about this earlier…” This will really allow you to connect with the panel. This is a group interview, and if you don’t change the dynamic, you’re going to feel very uncomfortable. Make it feel more like an interactive discussion that you would have as if you already had the job. It just flows and feels more natural for everyone.
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Had a call for a group or panel interview recently? While you might be thrilled to make it to this stage of the hiring process, the mere thought of fielding not one, but a whole team of interviewers can be enough to put your stomach in knots. Watch: 4 A’s For Acing The Group Interview However, the reason most employers conduct panel interviews isn’t to intimidate you; rather, it’s a time-saving way to meet with people that will likely interact with you in the new job, and gather their impressions all at once. So, when you stride into that group interview, remember that the team is there to learn about you and your value-add, NOT to interrogate you or make you uncomfortable.