group interviewFor many of us, job interviews are nerve wracking enough without having to sit in a room full of other candidates gunning for the same job. However, group interviews are becoming more common for employers to use as an initial screening tool, so it is important for job seekers to understand how they can best leverage the situation. First, take a moment to understand the purpose of a group setting and then figure out how you can use it to your advantage.

Consider the benefits of a group interview from the mindset of the employer. Bringing candidates in in groups is a huge timesaver. The employer can observe multiple candidates at the same time, so he or she can quickly eliminate those not up to par, helping identify the most suitable candidate faster. In a group setting, employers can easily observe those skills not necessarily found on a resume: leadership, communication, and preparedness. In addition, an employer will use this opportunity to assess your personality and diplomacy skills to see how well you react to the competition.

So, knowing the employer’s agenda, consider the following suggestions for your own agenda, and you will make a great impression, stand out as a leader, showcase your relevant skills, and convey that you are the right fit for the organization.

Without taking over the meeting, take the initiative to contribute appropriately to the discussions.

Be one of the first to offer answers when questions are posed to the group, but refrain from always being the first to speak to allow others equal opportunity.

Be a team player. If the interview turns into a conversation, you will want to give credit to the other candidates if you have added to any of their comments.

Pay attention to the information presented to you and formulate your questions from there.

Show enthusiasm and let your professional personality shine.

Some people thrive at the thought of competing within a group, but for most of us – not so much. If you have been called for an interview, it is a safe bet that you have met the minimum requirements on paper. Use that knowledge and focus on your agenda, using the suggestions above, to find your confidence and convey a professional presence that will make you stand out in the crowd.

By Rowe Leathers, Career Coach at American Public University

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