Interview Types: Group Interviews

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Interview Types: Group Interviews

By: Elizabeth Moffat
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There’s no shortage of interview formats or styles that can throw even the most experienced interviewee off their game, but if you familiarize yourself with as many of these as possible, you’ll be less likely to show up unprepared. Which is why this series is here, so you can become familiar with the multitude of interview styles you could face.

Group Interviews

These types of interviews are not very common, and when they are used it is often in conjunction with an information session or as a screening session. Some interviews will feature rounds of questions, while others will require candidates to work together on problem solving tasks. It can be weird to be working with the competition, but be careful not to be too competitive or domineering; the employer is likely looking for team work skills.

The Good

  • You will usually have more time to think out your answers.
  • When working in a group assess the team dynamics and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses.
  • You can use ideas brought forward, but not elaborated on by other candidates to make or support your point.

The Bad

  • If you’re not assertive enough you may have trouble standing out.
  • Competing directly with other candidates can be intimidating and stressful.
  • If you are one of the last to answer a question you may need to change your typical response to avoid being repetitive.

The Helpful

  • Treat everyone with respect, and try to introduce yourself before the interview formally starts, you’re likely being evaluated on your social and teamwork skills.
  • Come prepared with a short introduction in mind, but don’t memorize it like a script.
  • Avoid power plays. While it may be tempting to take complete control of the situation, you’re likely to come across negatively.
  • Listening can be your most important skill here.
  • Be persuasive.
  • Take advantage of the extra time to think of answers, but don't tune out other participants.
  • While you don’t need to control everything, recognize opportunities to take a leadership role.

Potential Questions

Rather than asking questions, many group interviews focus on team based work simulation exercises. You may be asked to:

  • Form a discussion group to work out a creative pitch or solve a problem.
  • Solve hypothetical problems, such as “How would you assign yourselves roles and organize the evacuation of a sinking ship?”
  • Use paper or other art supplies to make a large bridge, tower, plane ect.

Prepare with more practice questions by visiting the Interview Question Database.

Continue reading our full series of interview type tips or visit the All About Interviews section of the OLC.

Posted on April 23, 2012