What to expect in a group interview

If these people read this blog they'd know what to expect in a group interview.

My husband went to a group interview for a food and beverage attendant job recently. It was a new and weird experience for him.

He agreed to give me me the inside details about what went down as long as I respected his privacy and concealed his identity. So in this blog post I will call him Idris because, let’s be real, we both wish he looked like this:

Idris Elba's confidence would make him stand out in a group interview.

Why do employers choose group interviews?

Group interviews are time savers, especially if multiple positions need filling.

Employers also choose group interviews over other common job interview types to see how people interact with each other. You are more likely to end up in a group interview for jobs with a strong customer service focus like call centre and hospitality jobs. You need to put your personality on display, but remember:

  • be polite to everyone in the room
  • don’t talk over other interviewees
  • introduce yourself to other interviewees while you’re waiting
  • answer questions if you’re asked

Idris said one person refused to answer questions in his group interview and it was pretty awkward. Try to remember that everybody in the room is just as nervous as you. Take a breath and answer as best you can. Ask the interviewer to come back to you if you’re really struggling with an answer.

How many people get invited to a group interview?

Idris said there were 12 people at the first round of his group interview competing for four positions. At the second round he expected to see less people, but instead there was one extra person – 13 in total!

You never know how many people will be at your group interview

The number of people at a group interview depends on the type of job and how many positions are available. It could be two people or it could be 90, and you normally don’t find out how many other people are interviewing until you show up.

What do you actually do in a group interview?

This depends a lot on the type of job you are applying for. You could have to do activities to demonstrate your skill and speed for tasks specific to the job like data entry on a computer or preparing food and drinks.

A group interview can also be split into rounds of activities and questions, with people let go at each step. Kind of like talent shows on television.

Idris said his group interview was a question and answer format. First, the interviewers asked everybody to introduce themselves and then asked the group some standard interview questions. That was the most difficult part, according to Idris. Because the interviewers did not ask each person a question, he wasn’t sure if he should answer every question or let other people have a turn.

Try and stand out in and group interview

He also said sometimes a person would give the same answer he wanted to give, so he had to quickly think about how to answer the question in another way, or build upon the existing answer to make himself stand out. In the end, he said he answered about three quarters of the questions.

Top tips for a group interview

  1. Look fresh and clean. You will be directly compared to the other people in your group. Make sure your outfit is clean and ironed, you have deodorant on, your teeth are brushed and your hair is neat.
  2. Be prepared. If you know you will be asked to do tasks, practice them. Read this post about common interview questions and think up some answers before you go to your interview.
  3. Be on time. Don’t be the person who rushes in late.
  4. Be confident. Even if you’re super nervous, don’t show it. Not only will it impress your interviewers, you might also psych out your competition 😉

Oh, and in case your wondering…

Idris did not get the group interview job. He was pretty upset about it because he went through two interview rounds, put in a lot of effort and thought he was in with a good chance.

Don't be disappointed if you don't get a job from a group interview

But, he kept trying and ended up getting a different job as a casual food and beverage attendant a few weeks later. It’s a good reminder not to give up on your job search, even when you feel a bit defeated. The job that’s right for you could be the next job you apply for.

Images via Giphy