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Andrew Arkley|May 19, 2023

What Are Group Interviews? Our Expert Tips On How To Succeed

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Here’s a common scenario – you apply for a job and the employer invites you to a group interview. What is a group interview, you wonder – and how do you prepare for it?

For many candidates, interviews are exciting yet anxious occasions – according to JDP, 93% experience anxiety related to job interviews.  Adding extra people to the mix can be even more daunting for some applicants. 

But if you’re well prepared, the group interview format may give you a greater chance to shine. So, what is a group interview?

Group interviews, as a term, often causes confusion. That’s because there are actually two very different types of group interviews!

They both have some things in common, though. They aim to more accurately present work scenarios at the company, or evaluate how you communicate with different people. 

In which case, what is a group interview, how do its two types differ and what’s the best way to prepare?

What is a group interview?

The two different formats are:

  1. Multi-candidate interviews: Often simply called ‘group interviews’ – these feature several interviewees
  2. Panel interviews: A panel interview features only one candidate and several interviewers, often from different teams or departments

It’s possible that you won’t know in advance that your interview will involve more than one interviewer, or candidate. Therefore, it’s best to always be prepared for a group interview, just in case.

Regardless of the type of interview you have, we recommend following up afterwards. Take a look at our blog for how to follow up after an interview and how this can leave a positive impression on your potential employer.

Why employers use group interviews

Running interviews with several candidates at the same time will benefit some employers because they can:

  • See how interviewees communicate with, or in front of, their peers
  • Assess multiple applicants quickly and efficiently when they have more than one role to fill e.g. in customer service-based industries, or for seasonal work
  • Judge their ability to work as part of a team, if the interviews set them an exercise

Meanwhile, panel interviews are popular with hiring managers because they help employers:

  • Get a broader perspective of the interviewee’s performance
  • See how a candidate would collaborate with, or report to, staff from other business units or with different personalities

You can use all our advice on how to make an impact at an interview – but you’ll also need to be aware of the unique skills needed for group and panel interviews.

Here’s our advice on how to take advantage of a group interview setting: 

Group interview tips

When there are other candidates in your interview, make sure that you:

  • Prepare an introduction in case you’re asked for one
  • Greet candidates beforehand, if you can – the more names you can remember, the more natural your conversation will be during the interview
  • Plan how you will contribute to the discussion from the outset – don’t fall into the trap of letting the group exercise pass you by without saying or doing anything!
  • Listen to others and where relevant, comment or follow up on what they say – when you agree with their point of view, say so, but also try to build on it
  • Ask relevant questions to other candidates
  • Don’t dominate the entire group discussion

The interviewer may also ask you questions about the other candidates – for example, “who else in this room would you hire and why?” This tests your listening and decision-making skills, so pay attention to their introductions and answers.

Panel group interview tips

In a panel interview, if you know in advance who your interviewers will be, take the time to do some research to learn more about their role. Use either LinkedIn or the company website to find out any useful details. 

If you’ve met one of the interviewers before, but not the others, greet them individually and make eye contact with them when you’re speaking.

They may ask you questions about how you tend to work with staff in other departments – but otherwise, prepare for a panel interview as you would for a standard one-to-one. The only real difference is that the panel will take it in turns to ask you questions.

Group interviews can cause even more post-interview anxiety than usual, as you’re comparing your performance to other candidates. But try to look at things objectively – see our guide on how to tell if an interview went well (or badly) for some help.

Summary: What is a group interview?

There are two types of group interviews – one with multiple candidates and one with multiple interviewers.

In other words, what is a group interview? It’s an interview that goes beyond the typical one-to-one format and involves several participants, either interviewing or being interviewed.

Aside from group interviews, there are some other formats you may come across – find out about them here.

You can also take a look at our new blog for tips on writing a marketing CV – and for support with any other part of your job search, whether you need a brand new CV, cover letter or LinkedIn profile, don’t hesitate to contact us!

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