The group interview or assessment is perhaps the most difficult stage to pass as it requires candidates to demonstrate many skills sets in a set time. A common task is that the group is given a scenario to read. This presents a problem from which they have to find the best solution from the few options provided.
The skills that employers specifically look for during this stage are a candidate’s ability to:
- Communicate and present their thoughts coherently
- Listen to the ideas of their peers
- Engage their team members in the discussion
In a nutshell, the group interview stage is used by many employers to assess whether candidates have the skills to collaborate effectively as a team.
Having experienced quite a few of these types of interviews, I thought I would share my reflections on some easy tips to remember so you can stand out during this process.
I have tried to put the tips in a specific order to reflect how you can generally use them. However, of course, there is no official sequence as there are some tips you can use more than once. So here goes…
Before the group discussion
Write the strengths and weaknesses
When there is a set time given to read through the information presented, it can be easy to forget how to structure your notes and what to look out for.
So, one of the best things to do is to jot down the strengths and weaknesses of each option given that you must choose from. This will make it easy to relay feedback once you begin speaking and coming to a decision with your team.
During the group discussion
Be the first to speak
A lot of the time many people are afraid to be the first to break the silence in case they say something wrong or inappropriate. In many cases, there is a 5-10 second waiting gap to see who will be the first to speak.
So, the first thing you say doesn’t necessarily have to be addressing the task at hand, but it could even be that you are the first to introduce yourself to the group. This will show that you are confident to open up a discussion and make you psychologically more confident to naturally bring forth your ideas as your voice has been heard and you do not have to worry about forcing yourself to speak later.
If you don’t get a chance to speak first, no worries but make sure you still say something at the start of the task – remember first impressions!
Ensure everyone is on the same page
Sometimes the task at hand may not always be the clearest. Some of the information could have been forgotten or the written task was not read in the time given. A quick recap at the beginning of the task is always helpful to everyone to consolidate the information provided.
So, before you begin discussing the task, make sure to ask if everyone has understood the information or if there needs to be any clarification. You don’t necessarily have to be the one to simplify the information if you are unsure yourself, but you can allow someone else to jump in to do so.
By doing the latter, not only do you present yourself as an attentive leader but also demonstrate that you can bring in other people’s voices rather than just dictate information yourself.
If there are no roles given, the team can lose track of time and information, speak over each other, or be left feeling confused.
So, allocating certain roles to each individual will help the team be clear on their responsibilities during the task. Some easy roles to offer to assume or assign include the timekeeper, scribe, and presenter/s (who will present back the team’s decision to the interviewer/panel). This presents you as a good leader who can manage a team effectively.
Address others by their name
It can be hard to recall names of those you just met, even more so if you are meeting under time pressure. It also may seem quite insignificant to remember to call someone by their name however, it goes a long way when building a bond between you and your peers.
So, use the easy tip of simply addressing a person by their name when speaking to them. This indicates that you value your peers as you have taken the effort to remember (and pronounce correctly!) their names and are invested in building a relationship. This also makes someone feel valued and feel comfortable working with you.
Don’t speak over others
It can be tempting to have your points accepted and championed by your team. However, being the only one who speaks will paint you more in a negative than positive light as you fail to prove yourself as a team player. You will come across as someone who is self-involved and conceited – traits that never go well in a workplace.
So, ensure that you are letting others have their turn to express their opinion and display a genuine effort to listen and take into consideration their ideas. This validates that you are a team player who is not afraid to use and navigate other people’s ideas to add to your own and improve your understanding.
Bring others into the conversation
The team you are part of may come with its fair share of different personalities. Usually, there is a quiet individual who rarely speaks.
So, not to come across as using the quiet person but include them into the conversation by addressing them by their name and asking their opinion. This demonstrates your self-awareness and team-building skills while hopefully making the individual more comfortable in the group setting.
Everyone enjoys being told they are doing the right thing. It can boost someone’s confidence and draw towards your character.
So, when your peer says a point that stands out to you, then share a compliment. Don’t think that shining the light on them means taking away from your strengths. Ironically, highlighting someone else’s strengths communicates that you are secure and confident in yourself which then makes you look better in the employer’s eyes. This will definitely highlight you as a team player.
Justify your points
Although it is important to listen to and engage with other people’s opinions, don’t let yourself then feel intimidated that your ideas are not worthy enough.
So, if you have an idea or suggestion that you think will genuinely be supportive then explain your reasoning. It could even be that you change the mind of your peers which demonstrates your persuasion skills – a skill highly valued in any work environment. Even if others end up disagreeing the fact that you can explain your point of view illustrates that you can think outside the box and demonstrates your courage in giving your opinion even if it goes against the majority.
I hope these tips will gain your confidence going into group interviews and that you succeed in reaching the next stage!