The group interview: not as nerve-wracking as you think!

I recently took part in my first ever group interview, and being the worrier that I am, I was extremely nervous for it.  I knew that it would revolve around a lot of scenario questions, and I was wondering how on earth I would come up with interesting ideas and show off some creativity, which comes so naturally to others.  I was also worried about clashes of opinions and personalities and how this might affect my performance.  But once I had gotten into the swing of things, I realised it was completely different and a lot less nerve-wracking than I had originally thought.  My prior misconceptions of the group interview had disappeared, and I now reflect on it with clarity and an open-mind, and what I managed to get out of it.

I was told the group interview would be two hours long, and instantly my mind wandered to the amount of things we would cover in that time.  In reality, we focused on a select few scenario questions, leaving time at the end for questions and reflections, as well as information about the role itself.  So, do not get put off at the lengthier period of time to undertake the interview – a lot of this time will give you the opportunity to see if the role is right for you, and ask important questions that could stand you out from the crowd.  Another tip would be to ask relevant questions that do not appear on the job description, so that the panel can be wowed by the additional research you have done.

Secondly, I found it really helpful to turn up 10-15 minutes before the start of the interview.  If others have done the same, it gives you a chance to chat to people before you go into formalities.  You might find something that you have in common with another interviewee, which can really put you at ease and make you realise that they’re not robots!  They are more than likely nervous as well, and making conversation will probably put them at ease too – even though they are up for the same role as you, it’s not worth getting competitive.  For me, interviewers preferred collaborative discussion, and if you’ve already spoken to people beforehand, you’re already used to making conversation!

The main thing I learnt from the group interview is that, even though providing your own ideas is excellent, facilitating discussion is even better.  If you have taken the time to listen to someone’s idea and show agreement or disagreement with it, it shows your capability for doing the same thing in the role you’re interviewing for.  Also, if discussion drops, or someone hasn’t had the opportunity to talk about something, focus the conversation around a particular person and ask them if they would like to contribute.  I feel like you would get extra marks just for showing your interest in someone.  Just to reiterate, in my opinion, collaboration is much more effective than competition.

I am definitely not an expert after one group interview, and every situation is different, but it’s allowed me to reflect on a number of things that I was once worried about beforehand.  Good luck if you have any type of interview coming up, and just remember to be yourself (it’s the best version of you, for sure!).

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