Grace Under Fire: Preparing for a Successful Group Interview

You’re understandably pleased that you’ve been invited in for a job interview, but you’re worried that the prospective employer also mentioned you'll be interviewed in a group along with several other candidates. Don’t panic. Group interviews can be tough, but with some solid interview preparation you’ll be ready to ace them.

Here are five pieces of interview preparation advice to help you knock your next group interview out of the park.

1. Know what you’re getting into.

Companies hold group interviews to save themselves time and resources by examining many candidates at once. They also use them to put potential hires through a trial by fire and see who comes out unburned. Be aware that while your interviewers may be trying to get through numerous applicants at once, they will probably also be watching you closely to see how you handle the challenge.

2. Remember it’s an interview like any other.

Even if you’re not the only one being interviewed, follow standard hiring advice and interview preparation. Thoroughly research the company ahead of time. Arrive early, dressed professionally. Greet everyone cordially. Bring multiple copies of your resume and a portfolio of your best work. Be ready to tell your stories and ask good questions. Avoid blunders . Follow up promptly with a thank-you note, and remind the interviewers of one of your great insights or connections with them. You get the idea: Everything you’d do to ace a solo job interview , bring to the table in a group job interview.

3. Be an individual — but also a team player.

In group situations, interviewers have a unique opportunity to evaluate your interpersonal skill set and how well you work with others. Be assertive when you have something to say, but don’t ride roughshod over the other candidates to say it. If they behave competitively, flip the script and try being collaborative by agreeing with — and then adding to — their points. You’ll stand out both for your insights and for your selflessness. (Tip: Prepare several answers to standard interview questions so you have something unique to say, even if you’re not the first to answer a question.)

4. Be ready to think on your feet.

In this type of job interview, you might be placed in a team with several other candidates and asked to solve a problem. You may be asked to give a short presentation to everyone in the room. You might be tasked with role playing a business situation with another candidate or one of the interviewers. You might also be told to do something your interview preparation didn’t cover. Be ready to improvise a bit. You’ll almost certainly need to.

5. Enjoy the experience.

Group interviews can be stressful — as noted, often they’re actually designed to turn up the heat and see who can stand it. If everyone around you is sweating, how great will you look if you’re the one candidate who’s smiling, engaging with everyone around you, and generally enjoying yourself? This may seem impossible, but it isn’t. Take a few deep breaths. Smile at your interviewers and fellow candidates — it’ll help you feel happier. If you make a mistake, practice laughing at yourself. Remember that no matter how stressful this job interview is, it’s only for an hour or two, and you’ll be remembered as “the happy candidate!”

What hiring advice has helped you ace a group interview? Share your interview preparation tips in comments below.