Group interviews are being used today as a way to quickly meet a few hundred candidates in a short period. There are companies hiring today who will have two sessions, one in the morning, the other in the afternoon. Each session will last for two hours and consist of over 200 potential candidates.
The bad news for you as a candidate, it’s challenging to be successful in a graduate job interview as there are just so many potential candidates for each job. Competition is rife with only the strongest, the most intelligent and the most prepared, surviving.
Graduate Group Interviews
Preparation is the key to success. If you fail to prepare, you need to prepare yourself for failure. Group Interviews are especially tough as it’s likely there will be more than one interviewer in the same room, and they are all actively looking for reasons to send candidates home.
Below are eight tips to help you be successful in your next graduate group interview. Most are pretty obvious or should be obvious, but you will be amazed at how many graduates don’t even get the basic’s correct.
- Watch Your Presentation – Nice suit, white shirt (its neutral), plain tie (for men) and clean black shoes. Watch out for wearing loud, 80’s style pin-stripped suits, pictured ties that you think will show of your personality, but the interviewer could easily mistake this for a sign of immaturity or the latest Justin Bieber haircut that might look great on the dance floor, but will unlikely do you any favors in the interview room. It’s easy to get your presentation right and look professional. It’s also easy to spot the candidates that have not followed this advice, they’re the ones looking out of place in the interview room.
- Watch Your Presentation – Shave, use deodorant, watch out for that cologne and generally ensure that you look your best. If you smoke, make sure that you’ve chewed chewing gum for at least 15 minutes before you walk into an interview room otherwise the stench of smoke can quickly put the interviewer off.
- Your General Presentation Skills – Interviews will pay attention to how you present yourself. Did you stand up as they walked into the room? Do you have a good handshake? Do you make eye contact when you speak the interviewers? This is all part of your first impression. Over the last 20 years in HR, I have met thousands of hiring managers that will openly admit they decide on whether they’re going to hire you in the first two minutes of your interview. If you have a terrible first impression, it’s still possible to recover, but you have an upwards task ahead.
- Your Communication Skills – Watch out that you do not sound boring when you speak. Nobody likes to work with a dull employee so make sure you show off your personality. Speaking is essential, but make sure you demonstrate your ability to listen, follow instructions and get your point across to the rest of the group. It’s also essential that you make an effort to engage everyone in the group.
- What Do You Know About The Company? – This is a question that will come up in every graduate interview. Every candidate will have an answer, with the majority knowing more than just the basic facts. If you want to separate yourself from the crowd, you need to focus on the details. In my last graduate group interview, I asked the question, “What’s the name of our CEO”? Only one person could give me his name – he was also the only candidate we chose for the second round. I would assume that he did the most amount of preparation and it showed in his interview.
- Focus On Your Strengths – we all have different strengths and weaknesses that combine to form the strength of the team. Focus your strengths and admit when you’re not sure of the answer. Recently I led a group interview where the task was to build a basic presentation. I chose the group leader, however, my choice immediately stood up, explain that he had no interest in being a leader given his skills were firmly in technology and he would prefer to add value building the presentation online.
- Your Interest Levels – If you ask a graduate candidate whether they’re interested in joining the company, 99.9% will say yes. If everyone is telling the hiring manager they’re interested in the role, how do you stand out from the crowd? You make sure you’re interested and engaged from start to finish. If you don’t, it will be noticed, and you will not get through.
- Thank You – Make an effort to thank everyone who has interviewed you and see if you can remember names and title so that you can follow up later after the interview has finished. Almost no-one can remember people names in a group interview and therefore when I have completed a group interview, rarely do I get any thank you letters.