The dynamic nature of modern job-seeking continues to present challenges to both employers and applicants. As a result, a group interview has emerged as a unique way of efficiently assessing multiple candidates’ multifaceted skills, hard and soft ones alike.

Because of their effectiveness and interactive nature, group interviews have become a practice in many organizations from different industries.

However, while they’re beneficial for employers, group interviews can also pose some challenges for job seekers. Fortunately, with a few simple group interview tips, you can learn how to complete them all on your way to your dream job, so let’s dive in.

Key Takeaways

  • Group interviews, or collective interviews, are interactive job interviews where multiple candidates’ are screened simultaneously.
  • Unlike standard group interviews with multiple candidates, the more common group type, a panel interview, involves multiple interviewers assessing one candidate.
  • Benefits of group interviews include efficiency, both time- and money-wise, diversity, and interactivity.
  • Group interviews can pose challenges, such as deindividuation, dominant candidates overshadowing others, and groupthink.
  • Common group interview activities include problem-solving tasks and role-playing exercises, which offer insight into candidates’ skill sets and teamwork aptitude.

What is a Group Interview?

A group interview definition states that it is an interactive type of job interview in which multiple candidates are present, forming a group, hence the name. It’s an efficient and cost-effective way to evaluate multiple candidates’ communication skills and teamwork aptitude simultaneously so that the hiring company can choose a well-rounded professional for their team.

Moreover, while one-on-one interviews can create a blurred image of different faces, names, and backgrounds, group interviews allow the job interviewer to compare and contrast applicants on the spot, painting a clearer picture.

During a group interview, candidates may be required to answer questions individually or give a presentation showcasing their experience and expertise. However, they can also be given problem-solving tasks and role-playing exercises simulating possible work scenarios.

Panel Interview vs. Group Interview

If we place all the interviews that don’t have the standard one-on-one form in one category, we get the umbrella term “group interview.” However, there are different types of group interviews; the distinction is mainly between collective interviews we’ve just discussed and panel interviews.

Funnily enough, while a subtype, panel interviews are more common than standard group interviews.

A typical panel group interview example is a standard question-and-answer session. However, the more important distinction is that panel interviews involve two or more interviewers, typically in different positions in the organization (hiring managers, relevant team members, and HR specialists), interviewing one candidate.

Each of those panel members assesses a specific set of skills and asks questions relevant to their perspective, and it’s worth noting that panel interviews are usually conducted for senior or management roles.

3 Prominent Advantages of Group Interviews

Group interviews have several advantages, including the following:

#1. Efficiency

The most prominent benefit of group interviews is their efficiency. Instead of meeting each candidate one by one in a one-day range, for example, the interviewer can screen them all in a single session and identify the most qualified ones, whom they can later compare and contrast.

#2. Diversity

A group interview can gather a very diverse pool of candidates. And though artificially fostering diversity in the workplace has been somewhat disputed by highly reputable sources such as Harvard Business Review, everyone can agree that having diversity in hiring options and the ability to compare them side by side in an interview is a good thing.

Group interviews allow the interviewer to identify applicants with different experiences, expertise, and backgrounds and see how their unique approaches can benefit the team. Additionally, it offers insight into candidates’ people skills, which are essential in organizations cultivating diversity and inclusion.

#3. Interactivity

Group interviews are interactive, so they allow interviewers to see how diverse applicants interact with one another. This showcases their soft skills and job-related ones alike, especially if they’re given a group task to complete.

By observing the candidates’ interactions, the interviewer can see how each works as part of a team. For instance, they can assess their flexibility by determining whether they’re capable of handling different personalities and opinions.

3 Challenges of Group Interviews

Photo of a staircase

Although group interviews have many benefits and can be useful in many contexts, they can also present some challenges, such as the following:

#1. Deindividuation

Assessing candidates as a group can create difficulties in evaluating each person’s individual skills. Namely, some candidates in a group setting may not demonstrate their expertise as well as they would in a one-on-one interview. The reason behind this may be introversion—these applicants generally feel uncomfortable “stealing the spotlight.”

Interviewers can overcome this challenge if they tailor the group interview to different personalities by including individual assessment methods, such as skill tests and writing samples.

#2. Overshadowing

Another challenge that can stem from differences in candidates’ personalities is that some candidates, especially extroverted, competitive individuals, may overshadow others. They can end up dominating the conversation, which can be especially problematic if they lack the expertise and skills the job requires.

Employers can avoid this issue if they encourage all candidates to speak by asking each of them specific questions or offering them a chance to share their thoughts on a certain subject.

#3. Groupthink

Candidates in a group interview should steer clear of groupthink, which happens when they base a decision on consensus rather than individual opinion. As a result, they can agree with one another without thoroughly processing their own thoughts and ideas on the matter.

The key to solving this problem is encouraging applicants to think independently and critically. To achieve this, the interviewer can ask each candidate to share their perspective on a topic or provide an example of how they may have solved a similar problem in the past.

11+ Group Interview Questions

This guide would be incomplete without sharing some common group interview questions and offering the best answers to them.

So, let’s dive in and simulate an actual group interview.

#1. Tell me about yourself.

The one thing we all expect in an interview, whether it’s a one-on-one session or a group interview, is to be asked to say something about ourselves. This is where you should emphasize the knowledge and skills you have that can contribute to the organization.

Extra tip: To make your answer more personal, conclude it with a personal detail, such as an anecdote or an interest.

#2. What skills do you think are essential for this role?

This is where you can demonstrate your knowledge about the position and the company. Having a list of skills relevant to the role in mind can help you come across as genuinely interested in the job.

Extra tip: You can tailor your answer to the interviewing company by mentioning something you’ve learned about it during your research.

#3. Tell us about your greatest accomplishment.

This request is a chance for you to paint yourself in a good light and stand out from other candidates. Think of a work-related challenge you’ve successfully overcome or how you’ve contributed to your previous employer’s success.

Extra tip: Take this opportunity to highlight your problem-solving skills and adaptability.

#4. How do you handle and prioritize managing multiple tasks at once?

The interviewer wants to know your time-management skills by asking this question. Begin by ranking the tasks according to their due dates.

Extra tip: If the job requires using workflow automation tools, mention which ones you’ve used in the past and how.

#5. Tell me about a time when you were dealing with a conflict with your manager.

Employers know conflicts in the workplace are sometimes unavoidable. However, they want to see whether you’re confrontational or constructive in such situations.

Extra tip: Take this chance to showcase your soft skills, such as communication and interpersonal relationship skills.

#6. How would your colleagues describe you?

Group interview question: How would your colleagues describe you?

Everyone can sing praises to their own name, but what really matters is how you’re perceived as a coworker. When you’re asked this question, think of the impact you’ve had on your former coworkers and how you’ve collaborated with them.

Extra tip: Include specific positive feedback you’ve received from someone you’ve worked with, whether it be a superior or a colleague.

#7. Why do you want this job?

This question is tricky if you don’t know the interviewer’s agenda. The truth is, they want to know whether you’re familiar with the company’s practices and values and if your personality and working style align with them.

Extra tip: Conclude your answer by briefly stating why you’d be the perfect fit for the role.

#8. What are your strengths?

The purpose of this question is to assess the soft skills you possess that make you a valuable team member. In addition to communication and interpersonal skills, your strengths can include your leadership skills and ability to work under pressure.

Extra tip: Share a workplace story that demonstrates your greatest strength, such as flexibility, creativity, or learning potential.

#9. Name your weaknesses.

This is where you should be honest and realistic. The interviewer is well aware that everyone has weaknesses and wants to assess your level of self-awareness.

Extra tip: Don’t be too hard on yourself, but share something you’ve acknowledged as a weakness and point out that you’re willing to work on it.

#10. How do you manage stress?

Depending on the role, the job may involve working under pressure, such as meeting short deadlines. Share some healthy and constructive ways of dealing with stress you’ve adopted.

Extra tip: Share a concrete story that showcases your stress-management skills.

#11. Based on our conversation today, who in this room would you hire?

This question aims to assess your listening skills. The interviewer wants to know whether you’ve been actively engaged in the conversation.

Extra tip: Mention one or two candidates’ strengths before naturally pivoting to why you’d be the best fit for the role.

#12. Do you have any questions for me?

This is another opportunity to showcase your interest in working for that particular company. You can stand out by asking insightful questions that demonstrate your knowledge of the company.

Extra tip: Do thorough research on the company beforehand so that you have questions prepared.

5+ Tips & Best Practices for Succeeding at a Group Interview

Starting before the interview takes place and ending when it concludes, let us offer some advice and practices to help you stand out from the crowd in any group interview.

#1. Prepared Thoroughly

Preparing in advance is the key to a successful group interview. Proper preparation includes researching the company and thinking about the questions you’ll be asked and how to answer them.

It’s noteworthy that in a group interview, you may also get a chance to showcase your presentation skills. Therefore, work on a brief presentation beforehand and use it to expand on your CV and cover letter.

#2. Don’t Overpower the Conversation

Make sure not to overpower the conversation in an attempt to showcase your knowledge and experience. Use your 15 minutes of fame, but don’t steal the spotlight from others.

Remember that the purpose of a group interview is to assess the candidates’ soft skills as well as their hard skills. Those skills include communication, problem-solving, adaptability, and, most importantly, teamwork skills.

#3. Read the Room

You need to know your audience, so read the room. Choose the right moment to say something or ask a question to demonstrate your self-awareness and emotional intelligence.

This is especially important when you’re given a group task. Instead of imposing your ideas on others, assess the situation and find a way to give your input while actively listening to others and validating their opinions.

#4. Pay Attention to Your Body Language

Pay Attention to Your Body Language

Your goal is to present yourself in the best light, so be mindful of your body language. You want to be perceived as interested and engaged, so make sure your posture and movements convey the message.

Sitting or standing up straight with your arms uncrossed signals confidence and openness. Additionally, if you face someone with your full body and look them in the eyes while listening to them, you’ll come across as an active participant in the conversation.

#5. Listen Carefully

Speaking of listening to someone speak, make sure that you pay close attention to everything that’s happening, including other candidates’ answers to the interviewer’s questions.

If you come across as an engaged and active listener, you’ll leave the best impression on your potential employer. Moreover, by listening to others, you’ll be able to do your own assessment and answer teamwork questions more thoroughly when it’s your turn to speak.

#6. Seize the Spotlight Strategically

Truthfully, a group interview is a competition, so you’ll need to seize the spotlight occasionally to present yourself in the best light.

However, you need to know how to do it strategically so as not to come across as imposing. For example, you can politely volunteer to answer a question but don’t do it excessively. The rule of thumb is to do this every four questions or so. That way, you’ll assert yourself without appearing overbearing.

#7. Cultivate Respectful Disagreements

Don’t be afraid to disagree, but do it respectfully. Embracing healthy debates in the event of contrasting opinions can showcase your critical thinking skills and constructive ways of tackling disagreements.

This goes both ways, so make sure not to get defensive but rather accept constructive criticism with poise.

Final Thoughts

A group interview can be stressful, especially if you’re an introverted, “let my work speak for me” type of person. However, instead of seeing it as stress-inducing, try to look at it as an opportunity to showcase a wider range of skills than you could in a standard one-on-one job interview.

Start your preparation by researching the company and the hiring manager. From there, you can tailor your answers and seek to highlight the skills necessary for the job. Finally, make sure to assert yourself respectfully and seize the spotlight strategically. The end result could be your dream job, so take your chance to shine!

Group Interview FAQ

#1. Are group interviews a red flag?

No, a group interview isn’t a red flag by itself. However, if there are too many candidates, that can indicate that the employer isn’t interested in learning extensively about each individual.

#2. How to introduce yourself at a group interview?

You should introduce yourself confidently and concisely at a group interview. Start by greeting everyone, then state your name, background, and any relevant skills you have that fit the job description.

#3. Are group interviews hard?

Group interviews aren’t necessarily hard. However, they can be more challenging for non-competitive people and introverts who aren’t used to drawing attention to themselves.

#4. How can HR effectively evaluate candidates at a group interview?

HR can effectively evaluate candidates at a group interview by taking notes about each one. Those notes should include everyone’s individual skills and expertise.

#5. Are group interviews better than individual interviews?

Group interviews aren’t necessarily better or worse than individual interviews. They have both advantages (efficiency, diversity, and interactivity) and disadvantages (deindividuation, overshadowing, and groupthink).