Does the thought of having a group interview make you shudder, or do you see it as a chance to shine? However you feel about group interviews right now, it might be time you got prepared for this interview format since it’s an interview format that companies use, especially when there are lots of candidates to select from, as well as for roles where strong interpersonal skills are highly valued. The good news is, even if you’ve never had a group interview before, you can still ace it on the day. To help you do this, here are 15 ways to stand out in a group interview, whatever your personality type. Because it’s not all about being the loudest.
1. Be Vocal and Say Your Piece
Let’s start with the most obvious and important point, speaking up. One of the worst things that can happen in a group interview is not speaking up. You could be the perfect person for the job, but if you don’t let the interview panel know what you’re about and what you’ve got to offer then you won’t stand out, or you’ll stand out for the wrong reason.
Of course, it can be hard to speak up in a group setting, especially if you find yourself with a group that seems more confident and outspoken than you. I say seems here, because the truth is that you never really know how people are feeling inside. While someone may appear confident to you because they’re chatting away, this could also be their response to nerves.
Remember that you have every right to be there and to be heard. You have been invited to the interview for a reason. They want to know more about you, they’ve seen your resume and they liked what they saw, now is your chance to show them even more. Keep this at the forefront of your mind.
If you struggle with nerves then be sure to start working on your mindset ahead of time.
- Start to speak up in situations where you would normally stay quiet
- Practice mirror talk, using relevant affirmations to embed the right thoughts ahead of time
- Make a list of all your qualities and why you’re suited to the position, and look at it every day on the lead up to the interview
- Practice breathing exercises and your confidence pose
By doing all of these things, by the time the interview comes around, you’ll be ready.
2. Listen To Others
While it’s important to speak up and be heard, remember that listening is just as important. I’ve seen many people make the mistake of not listening, talking rudely over others, cutting people off, and generally demonstrating an inability to listen.
Listening skills are a key part of effective communication and companies need to know that you can also collaborate and work well with others, part of this involves listening.
This doesn’t mean you need to be a wallflower, it simply means that you communicate in a way that’s respectful and collaborative.
What’s more, listening on a deep level can give you an edge, if you’re the candidate who picks up on the finer points and digs deeper into things as a result. This will definitely make you stand out from the crowd in a group interview, especially in a world where it can sometimes feel like it’s all about being the loudest person in the room.
3. Ask Questions
If you want to stand out in a group interview, never be afraid to ask questions for fear of looking stupid. Better to ask and be certain than to press ahead having misunderstood what’s being asked of you. Asking questions to gain more clarity is a sign of someone who wants to ensure that things are done right, which is no bad thing.
There’s more than likely someone else in the room who’s wondering the same thing that you are, only they’re afraid to ask. As the one who asks the question, this shows confidence and also demonstrates that you’re the kind of person who isn’t above being wrong or not knowing things.
Whether you’re asking for the interviewer to repeat a question or you’re checking that you’ve understood an instruction correctly, questions can help you to stand out in a group interview.
4. Ask Follow-up Questions
A powerful way that questions can help you to stand out in a group interview is by asking insightful follow-up questions. This is where your listening skills will prove valuable.
You can ask follow-up questions to the rest of the group as well as to the interviewers.
Follow-up questions show that you’re listening, you understand, and you’re fully engaged in the process.
5. Expand On and Add To Others Points
If someone has said something that you were going to say, this doesn’t mean the door is closed to you. Another great way to stand out in a group interview is to add to and expand on the points of others. Like, using follow-up questions, this technique will also demonstrate to the interview panel that you’re a deep listener, better yet, it will show that you have even more to offer.
To use this approach, pick a point that you agree on, and let them know why you agree, then add another one or two points to boot for example.
6. Collaborate and Engage
I’ve already touched on the importance of collaborating, instead of only competing, as well as showing that you’re fully engaged in the process.
Collaborating shows that you’re a team player and not purely out for yourself. And the fact that you can collaborate with different people you’ve never worked with before shows that you’re quick to adapt and build rapport.
If this seems daunting, try picking a couple of people whose styles complement yours in different ways, add to their points, agree with them and bounce off each other if possible.
This may help if the thought of collaborating or engaging with a particularly large group feels daunting.
Don’t forget, engaging with the group can also mean asking questions of the quieter people in the group during group exercises and making sure that everyone is involved and heard.
Of course, the caveat to this is to keep the company culture in mind and strike the appropriate balance.
7. Don’t Be Rude
Don’t confuse being rude with confidence. If there’s a group discussion, it’s critical to get your points across and to have your say. However, don’t be the person who is shutting people down and overriding at every opportunity. Have your say, but also listen to what others have to say, who knows something they say might come in handy later.
What’s more, constantly shutting people down and overriding can easily make you come across as arrogant, rude, and not a team player. Remember while you might go far alone, companies go further together.
8. Be a Leader
One of the best ways that you can stand out in a group interview is to be a leader. In practice this looks like this:
- Listening to others
- Taking the lead on tasks; coordinating tasks, and taking a project management role
- Encouraging and including quieter members of the group
- Bringing people back to the task at hand
- Encouraging group cohesion and facilitating better collaboration
9. Keep People On Task
As I mentioned above bringing people back to a task is a great leadership skill. The great news is that if you’re one of the quieter members of a team, yet you’re fully engaged and on point, you can be the first to spot when things start to slip and go off-topic.
Bringing people back to task can therefore be a great way to stand out, and get noticed, while also supporting the group.
10. Express The Unpopular Opinion
Another thing that will make you stand out in a group interview, as well as show you’re a leader, is having the courage to express an unpopular opinion.
You can do this in one of two ways. If you genuinely hold a differing opinion to the majority of the group, voicing it will show that you’re confident and courageous and that you have integrity.
But there may also be the opportunity to play devil’s advocate by challenging group thinking. In this scenario, you can challenge the consensus and ask questions that encourage the group to think differently.
This second approach is powerful but can be risky since you don’t want to come across as simply a naysayer or someone difficult to work with or challenging for the sake of it.
Explain the reason behind your questioning and challenge and also highlight the risk of not considering other perspectives. This way you’ll stand out to the interviewers and the rest of the group, showing that you’re not afraid to challenge, something which many companies value.
11. Show Your Personality
Group interviews are daunting and can feel extremely uncomfortable. That’s why showing your personality can help you to stand out in a group interview setting.
With all the nerves, it’s easy to forget that everyone is human and likely to be feeling just as nervous as you are, if not more.
With this in mind, showing who you are beyond the nerves and the interview discomfort will help others to relax which will, in turn, help you to relax more, making the whole experience better for everyone.
If you’re typically someone who makes jokes then making one here and there can go a long way to disarming people, if you’re curious then ask interesting questions.
Don’t be afraid to give a little glimpse of who you are.
12. Build Rapport
If you haven’t already guessed it, many of the ways that you will stand out in a group interview setting revolve around interpersonal skills and how you relate to and communicate with the interview panel as well as the other members of the group.
To do this well, you need to be able to build rapport. The better you are at building rapport, the more comfortable you’ll feel.
Make sure you build rapport with the interview panel. Good rapport involves good eye contact, smiling, and active listening.
Don’t underestimate the power of smiling! Some of the most powerful benefits of smiling, in a group interview scenario, are:
- Smiling lowers your blood pressure
- It makes you more attractive
- Smiling is contagious
- Research shows that smiling suggests success
And while being more attractive should never be the basis for any hiring decision, research has shown that those who are perceived to be attractive have an advantage. So while we can’t all be Beyonce, Charlize Theron, or some other recognized brand of attractive, nothing is stopping us from putting our best foot ( or face) forward. And that means smiling.
14. Show Up Early
I left showing up early till the end because it should be a given. Of course, there’s no need to take it too far. I once had a candidate turn up a whole day early, he definitely left an impression!
But, however obvious this point might be, it’s still worth noting some of the potential benefits.
By showing up early, you may have a chance to meet some of the interview panel before things get going and start some of the rapport building. If not, you most likely will meet the receptionist or coordinator, another great person to build rapport with.
At the very least, if you end up simply sitting in a waiting area, you could have a chance to see the passing people who work at the company, and generally get a sense of the “vibe” of the place. You’ll see how people interact. Are people smiling, how are people dressed? all of which is great intel!
Finally, as an early arriver, you’re in a prime position to build rapport with the rest of the group as they arrive, in a more comfortable manner than showing up last minute or being the last to arrive and feeling out of place.
You can own the place! Or at least own the seating area.
15. Dress The Part
And last but not least, if you want to stand out you need to feel great about yourself, and part of this is about dressing the part. No need for shoulder pads, or a 3 piece suit, unless it’s your style of course, and makes you feel super confident.
Whatever you wear, make sure it’s suitable for the company and setting, comfortable, and most importantly, it’s an outfit that gives you interview confidence!
Here are more good reads to help you prepare for your next interview