Group interviews are rare in the engineering sector, but should they happen, it’s good to be prepared. Group interviews have a different dynamic to what most of us are used to and they can feel more daunting than a typical one-to-one interview. There are more people around you, listening to your answers and ultimately, fighting for the same job. You should take the same approach to group interviews, that you would to any other. You will be asked questions and be expected to have an answer ready. Basic interview structure will be pretty much the same as any other but be ready to make conversation. You need to be able to create conversation from what someone else has said.
We have a number of tips that can be used to help you prepare for and smash group interviews, keep reading to find out more.
You don’t want to be there an hour early, but 5 or 10 minutes is good enough. This will give you time to supress your nerves and have a little pre-interview conversation with the other candidates. This time can really help you scope out the competition and introduce yourself in a less formal way.
You definitely do not want to be late to any sort of interview, especially a group interview where you will be being compared to the other candidates in the room. In some cases, being late may affect the other candidates, so the interviewer may not allow you to attend. Make sure you don’t let punctuality get in the way of your job goals.
If you’re interview is happening virtually, make sure that all of your equipment is set up with plenty of time spare. Have the apps you need open and the relevant notes around you. You might not get to introduce yourself beforehand in a virtual meetup, but you can be punctual, professional, and ready for anything that may come your way.
Greet both the interviewer and candidates
It’s important to make yourself known to the person conducting the interview, this is common knowledge. But introduce yourself to the other candidates, be polite at all times and maintain good interview etiquette. The same way you would in a one-to-one interview. Group interviews are a good way of finding out how you act around other people, a good way to show the employer that you would be a good fit for their team.
This is common courtesy and also shows you are a team player, even though you are being judged against these candidates, you are being polite and respectful towards them. A trait many employers look for.
After you have greeted everyone, and they have settled down, it can be a crucial part of the interview to give yourself a little introduction. This can often be initiated by the person conducting the interview, or you can take it upon yourself to introduce yourself when you answer your first question. It gives everyone in the room a little bit of context about you and your background and shows that you have confidence in yourself. It doesn’t have to be a long statement, just your name, current job title, where you work etc. Things you would usually say in the ‘Tell me a bit about yourself’ interview question.
Don’t talk over people
When another candidate is answering a question, it is important to let them finish. Even if you feel like you have a great answer or statement that would converse well with their point, don’t be rude and inconsiderate. It’s easy to get carried away when in an interview, after all, you want the interviewer to see you as the top candidate, but you will have your time to shine.
However, it is also important to not get lost in the group. Make your voice heard, you can do both. Let people have their say, listen to them and then have yours. You can get caught up in listening to everyone else and forget to answer your own questions. Try not to get shy.
It can be a little harder to do this in virtual interviews. There may be a time lag and you could accidently interrupt, or you may start talking when someone else does. This is because you can’t see someone’s body language, you almost don’t know when someone is going to start a sentence. If this happens, simply apologise, and let them speak. It can’t be helped but you can be courteous.
Answer first every now and then
Even though you want to include everyone and be sure not to interrupt, it can be good to answer a question first. There is a fine line between confidence and hogging the spotlight, but answering first every now and then, shows you have done your research and you’re ready for the question. It can represent that you have your own opinions and are confident in yourself and your ability.
Do your research
Just like any other interview, you must do your research beforehand. Make sure you are reading the job description before attending the interview, doing background research on the company and begin planning answers to potential questions. You are setting yourself up for success and making sure you are one step ahead of the other candidates. In group interviews the atmosphere can be a little different. There is a sense of competition in the air.
Group interviews can be difficult for multiple reasons, and everyone may have their own opinion on them. Be courteous of the interviewer and the people around you, make sure you are prepared and put yourself out there. If you are hiding at the back and not talking much, you will not be noticed. You need to make sure you have something to make sure you stand out. Your passion for the job and industry will not be ignored. Be true to yourself and make sure everyone can see it. You are there to make yourself stand out. These things will get easier in time.