Group interviews: Do’s and Don’ts

Group interviews can be very scary, particularly if you’re shy or introverted. It can also be hard to get the balance right between talking too much or too little.

The hard truth is that group interviews aren’t going anywhere. This is because they work so well not only to test your teamwork and communication skills, but also your problem-solving skills.

Most likely, you’ll be given a problem or a task and will be asked to work as a team to solve the issue.

The important thing for you to know is how to stand out  and come across as a confident team player, without seeming overly competitive. That’s why we’ve put together this list of do’s and don’ts for group interviews to make sure you smash it.


DON’T Hug the walls and ignore everyone

If you have pre-interview nerves, you may be tempted to ignore everyone and everything around you and focus on your own headspace. Don’t fool for this. You may not know it, but the interview has started as soon as you walk in the door.

Interviewers are likely to be watching. They will be looking out for the people sitting in silence, failing to communicate with other people. They will notice the confident person who is initiating conversation. That’s the person they will be interested in, as they’ve already started proving they can work confidently with other people and are likeable.

Don’t be the nervous person who’s too afraid or can’t be bothered to speak to anyone. It will put you on the lower hand from before you even get started.


DO Make a great first impression

To show you’re a cut above the rest, you need to immediately stand out. Make sure you’re dressed appropriately. Walk in with a confident smile and be polite. The first thing you should do is introduce yourself to the other candidates. Ask them their names and tell them yours. Take a genuine interest in what you ask them and what they say to you.

This can all happen before the official interview has even started. By the time it has started, the interviewers will have already worked out you’re confident, work well with others and are likeable. Then all you need to do is make sure they don’t change their mind about you during the interview.


DON’T View everyone as competition

This sounds silly, because of course the other candidates are your competition. But if you focus on this too much, you’re only going to appear aggressive and rude.

You need to use the other candidates to show you are a good team player and can correctly interact with people. Don’t talk over them, shut them down or even look as if you’re sizing them up. Working with them instead of against them will work far better in your favour.


DO Work with people

Remember at the beginning when we said to ask people their names? It would be great if you can remember them. That way, you can stand out from the rest by showing your ability to work really well with other people. And that’s the ultimate test of the group interview.

If you’re asked a question, you can respond with something like: “I was discussing this earlier with Sarah, and Sarah made a really good point”. This way, you’re not only showing you’ve made an effort to get to know other people, but that you’ve listened to what they’ve said.

Also, by being the person to introduce other people into the conversation, you’re showing yourself to be an effective leader.

Help other people in order to help yourself. Build on other candidates ideas, suggest how you would change them slightly to make them better. All of this will show fantastic communication, leadership and interaction skills.


DON’T interrupt people

In an interview it’s easy to get stressed, nervous and over excited. This will tempt you to behave in ways you wouldn’t normally. In group interviews, you will find a lot of people cutting in, interrupting others and talking over each other.

Is that how you’d behave in a normal social situation? Then don’t behave like that in a group interview. It will come across exactly how it always does: Rude, disrespectful, and unable to listen to anyone. Definitely not character traits any interviewer is looking for.


DO Listen

Of course being able to share your ideas and opinions and talk confidently in a room full of people are important skills to have. But people often forget the importance and attractiveness of a listener as well.

Whatever job you’re going for, you will need to have good listening skills. Whether that’s listening to instructions so you can perform a task correctly, listening to customers, or listening to feedback and advice from your manager.

In a group interview, you should take the time to show your good listening skills. This doesn’t just mean sit back in silence. Be an active listener. Lean in and look at the person who is making a point. Nod your head at them in agreement or encouragement. Make eye contact with them to show your confidence.

This will not go unnoticed and will make sure you tick another box on the observer’s list.


DON’T Waffle

If you’re a shy person, you’re more likely to do this. You’ll be super aware that maybe you’re being too quiet and will jump in and start talking just to show that you’re able to.

Don’t do this. If you’re going to say something, make sure it has a purpose. Don’t say something if you are just saying it for the sake of it. Make sure when you open your mouth and join in with what’s being said it’s because you have a valid point to make. Not because you’re scared you’ve not said enough.


DO Be yourself

And most important of all, like with any type of interview, just be yourself. Try to relax and remember you’re there so the interviewer can find out more about you and your personality.

Give them the true version of yourself, and you will come across as genuine and likeable.

Good luck with the interview!


Rosie Fitzgerald is a freelance journalist, who studied English Literature and Creative Writing at UEA and has previously been published by The Tab, Babe and The Guardian.

Inspiring Interns is a recruitment agency specialising in all the internships and graduate jobs London has to offer.