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Group Interview

A group interview, sometimes called a panel interview, is more stressful and challenging than a one-on-one job interview.

Once we examine the reasons for this interview format, your jitters should quickly subside. I'll share with you some excellent panel interview techniques that have paid dividends for many job seekers.

Two fundamental reasons why some employers prefer a group interview setting:

  1. Saves time
  2. Injects some stress into the interviewing process

Let's examine each of these reasons more closely. A hiring decision is always a group decision. No one person--regardless of their title--is the one and only decision maker.


Basically because no one wants to hire a turkey.

Bringing someone into the fold is a big's an emotional decision. People hire people they like. Whenever our emotions are involved in a decision, we can easily get into trouble simply because we are less objective.

The same principle applies to you sitting in the interview hot seat.

I wish I had a dollar for every job seeker who told me after their interview: I would enjoy working there because I really like the manager.

A group interview is efficient for you and the employer. Here's why:

  • Eliminates duplicate interview questions
  • All of the decision makers hear your answers at the same time
  • It's easier to ask you follow up questions to clarify information
  • They see first hand how you present yourself in a group setting
  • They can stay together after your panel interview to pass judgment and prepare feedback for you
  • Your interview takes 45-60 minutes vs 4-5 hours
  • Often leads to a timely second job interview

What about the stress part?

Some employers look beyond the convenience of a group interview and see it as an opportunity to put you under some stress. The way they do this is by asking you tough interview questions in the form of situational interview questions and behavioral interview questions.

If you don't know what's coming, you're going to look like a deer in the headlights. If you prepare well, you'll do just fine in your job interview.

Five Solid Group Interview Tips

  1. Always find out beforehand what types of interview the company will be conducting.
  2. It's important to get a written interview schedule so you know how many people will be on your panel interview, and their names and titles. This helps you with your research on the people who will be interviewing you, and will be valuable to you after your interview.
  3. Follow my all of my guidelines on preparing for a job interview. This covers topics of paramount importance like job interview attire, interview etiquette, and other key job interview tips. All of these tips and wisdom come from my 19 years of experience as an executive recruiter watching people take quantum leaps in their careers, and sadly, watching others crash and burn.
  4. Make brief eye contact with everyone on the panel as you are answering a question, regardless if some panel members just sit there and are passive throughout your entire interview.

    True Story: In my role as an executive recruiter, one of my candidates interviewed with an Automotive Tier 1 supplier. The interview format was a small group of 3 people.

    One of the managers just sat their stone-faced the entire interview.

    He never asked one question, never smiled....not even a grunt.

    My candidate even considered taking the manager's pulse just to make sure he hadn't died during their interview.

    Despite Mr Flintstone's lifeless demeanor, this job seeker politely answered all the of the interview questions and occasionally made eye contact with Fred.

    As it turns out, this courtesy didn't go unnoticed and my candidate was offered the position. You see, Mr Flintstone was actually an executive from their world headquarters who just wanted to sit in on the interview.

    Even though this job seeker wouldn't be interfacing with him thereafter, Fred had veto power over the hiring manager's decision...a good reason not to prejudge an opportunity until you have all the facts.

  5. Relax, breathe deeply and slowly, and don't talk too much. Look at your group interview just like you would if you were giving a speech in front of a small audience. Good preparation is the key to staying calm, cool, and collected...and keeping those butterflies flying in formation.

If you can't pass my my job interview skills quiz you simply are not ready for your interview.

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