Owning the Group Interview: Tips, Sample Questions, & Answers

group interview tips
Created by CakeResume

Group interviews are increasingly common when employers need to hire many people at once or need to fill their positions quickly. During a group interview, a single person will interview numerous applicants at once, which is a fast way to narrow their pool of applicants. 

Group interviews present specific challenges, the biggest of which is standing out. You are answering questions alongside your peers, which could be several or even dozens. You might therefore struggle to make an impact and get noticed.

 A group interview can also be stressful, since you are being watched not only by the interviewer, but also by your competition. 

Although group interviews pose unique obstacles, they can also be fun! The best way to excel in a group interview is to practice and prepare fully.

What is a Group Interview?

By definition, a group interview involves one or more hiring managers interviewing multiple people at once. You could attend a group interview with several people or many, and each candidate will take turns responding to questions or offering solutions. 

The meaning of a group interview is different from a panel interview. During a panel interview, a single applicant will be interviewed by a team of people. The panel could be hiring managers as well as other pertinent team members. Panel interviews help the company get different perspectives on a single candidate. 

A group panel interview could also combine both elements, in that a team of hiring managers might interview several candidates at once. This allows the company to decide as a team about the best candidates. Whether your group interview involves a panel or a single interviewer, it is a unique experience, different from a one-on-one interview. 

Why Employers Use Group Interviews

Although group job interviews can seem daunting for the applicants, they offer different benefits to the employer and might be used for different reasons. 

🔎 They can compare candidates side by side. 

One advantage of a group interview is that the employer can compare interviewees in real time and their suitability can be easily contrasted. 

🔎 They can assess applicants’ teamwork skills. 

Group interviews can involve some problem solving as a team or a group discussion in the interview. A group interview is a good way to judge skills like leadership and communication. Someone with strong teamwork skills will be visible in a group interview, as will someone who doesn’t listen well or help others.

🔎 They don’t have time to interview each candidate. 

Sometimes a company will perform a group interview if they are pressed to find a candidate quickly. Rather than hosting multiple one-on-one interviews and assessing each candidate separately, a process which could take months, an employer can interview everyone at once. A group job interview will streamline their hiring process and help them narrow down their pool of applicants more quickly. 

Tips for Succeeding in a Group Interview

Preparing for a group interview can be overwhelming, but a little groundwork goes a long way. Here are some group interview tips to help you get the position you want. 

💡 Research the company and the role thoroughly.

Someone who understands the company goals, history, and culture will stand out in a group interview. Get clear about the tasks involved in the role and what the company is looking for. 

You can do research online to find out more about the organization or speak to someone in a similar role. The knowledge you gain will give you an advantage in a group interview. 

💡 Be respectful and polite.

It goes without saying that a respectful and positive attitude will go a long way in any interview. Remember that in a group interview there are many qualified candidates who are just as driven as you are, so be professional and respectful toward other candidates. 

💡 Prepare a good self-introduction.

Likely, you’ll be asked during the group interview to tell everyone about yourself. A quick introduction to highlight your skills and background will help you get noticed in a group interview. 

Pick some of the skills you think are relevant to the role or some notable achievements you can touch on in the group interview. Deliver your pitch with confidence to get the interviewer’s attention. 

💡 Help others.

A group interview can be stressful, and it’s often hard to answer group interview questions so publicly. Be gracious and kind to your fellow interviewees. 

If you see an opportunity to help someone during group interview activities, don’t hesitate. A helping attitude also displays your professionalism and your teamwork skills.   

💡 Actively listen to others.

It’s best not to tune out when other interviewees are answering group interview questions. Their group interview questions and answers can help you with your own responses. 

What they say may also come up later, or you can refer to their points when you speak to show you were listening.  

💡 Don’t be afraid to be the first to answer a question.

Although going first in a group interview could leave you feeling vulnerable, if you feel you have a good answer to a particular group interview question, don’t hesitate. 

Being the first could make your answer more memorable during the group interview, and it makes you seem confident. 

💡 Prepare good questions to ask.

It’s common to ask questions during any interview, to show the employer that you are invested in the role, and that you’ve done some research. 

Prepare a few thoughtful questions to ask in a group interview, to help you get noticed. 

Common Group Interview Questions

Although every role is different, there are some common group interview questions that are likely to come up. Review some of these questions and think of your answers to help you better prepare for your group interview. 

❓ Tell me about yourself. 

This is a staple in any interview, and it’s likely to come up in a group job interview. It’s a good chance to highlight your relevant skills and experience. Be brief and direct. 

Answer: I received my diploma in hospitality management 4 years ago, before getting a job at Fine Foods restaurant. I used the customer service skills I acquired in college to help me climb the ladder from server to front of house manager. Since becoming manager, our guest satisfaction has improved 21% on customer surveys. 

❓ Why do you think you’d be a good fit here?

This question is a good way to put your company research to use. When answering this group interview question, make sure you describe how your values and goals align with the company’s. 

Answer: Your posting caught my attention because I’ve always wanted to work for Really Great Diner. Your location has a dedicated following, and I’ve personally always enjoyed the customer experience whenever I have dined here. I understand the environment you want to create, and I feel my hospitality experience could contribute to your goals. 

❓ What is your biggest weakness and what steps have you taken to overcome it?

This question could come up in a group interview to assess your self-awareness. This group interview question is a good chance to talk about your growth or how you’ve turned a shortcoming into something positive. Make sure you emphasize your progress!

Answer: I sometimes struggle with delegating tasks when I think I can finish them myself. I found out quickly after becoming a manager that delegation was necessary in a busy restaurant. I discovered that I felt more comfortable assigning tasks if I was able to give the staff member a timeline and ask that they follow up with me when they finish. 

❓ Thinking back to your previous roles, what does a good leader look like to you?

There are likely to be some group interview questions about your previous work history. This group interview question allows the interviewer to assess what you are looking for in a boss.  

Answer: At my first restaurant job, I had an excellent manager who really made me feel valued at work. She was kind and approachable but had high expectations, and it made me want to perform better and learn more. I think a good leader is someone who pushes and supports you at the same time. 

❓ Describe a time when a co-worker or supervisor made a decision you disagreed with. How did you resolve the situation?

This group interview question is about your ability to work as a team and be assertive while still respecting people’s differences. Let the interviewer know that you won’t be disagreeable in these situations. 

Answer: I recall that I had a co-worker who had a different idea of how to close the restaurant at the end of the day. He was adamant that his idea was the best way to do things. We ended up discussing our different views and I asked him if he would be willing to try my approach for a few nights, and he agreed. We both had good ideas, so we ended up meeting in the middle. 

❓ What was the hardest part of this task?

It’s possible that your group interview will involve some team exercises and activities. When answering this group interview question, talk about how you overcame the challenge of the task. 

Answer: The hardest part of the task for me was working as a team with people I don’t yet know well. I saw we all had different approaches and I wasn’t sure how we would all work together. I felt like our team rose to this challenge by using direct and honest communication, and I think we performed well because of it. 

❓ What would you have done differently?

This is another question that might come after group interview activities. Reflect on what could have gone better during the task. Being honest during this group interview question will make you seem direct. 

Answer: If I could do the task again, I would have focused less on the time we had left and more on doing the job well. I’ve found that guests in restaurants are more than willing to wait a little longer if the experience is excellent. So, in this exercise I would have liked to focus more on the guest experience and not the clock.

Questions to Ask in a Group Interview

It’s best practice to have some questions for the interviewer. They could be specific to the role or about the company. Preparing some questions to ask in a group interview will help you stand out and make you appear engaged. 

The big difference between asking questions in a group interview compared to a solo interview is that the other candidates will likely have questions as well. Make sure you listen carefully so as not to repeat what anyone else has asked. 

Examples of questions you could ask in your group job interview: 

  • How long have you worked at the company and what do you like about working here?
  • What qualities do you look for in your candidate?
  • What are your success metrics for this position?
  • What do you hope your candidate will accomplish in their first three months?
  • What is the biggest challenge in this role?

🔑 Key Takeaways:

Although a group interview can present special challenges, it can also be a fun experience and a good opportunity. A group interview is unique from a solo interview in that you will answer questions alongside your peers, so listening carefully and being respectful is crucial. 

Your biggest goal in a group interview is to stand out, so practice your answers to some common group interview questions to sound polished. Preparation is the best way to help your personality and experience get noticed in a group interview.

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--- Originally written by Tiffany Quinn ---

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