What’s scarier than an in-person interview?
A group in-person interview. Not only do you have to impress your potential employer, but you also have to focus on differentiating yourself and your skill set from those around you—without coming off as rude. While it definitely takes a little bit more prep work, it’s possible to ace this part of the process. Really!
To find out what actual employers think, we asked members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) to share what they like to see candidates do in a group setting. Their best advice is below.
1. Be Yourself
Candidates should be genuine. The landscape of professionalism is changing across the country, and we want people who aren’t afraid to bring the positive attributes of their personality to the office. Stay loose, and let the real you shine through. If it doesn’t work out (i.e., you don’t get the job), there probably wasn’t much of a match, and you’re better off in the long run.
2. Provide Unique Examples and Accomplishments
In this setting, you likely will only have the opportunity to answer a couple of questions. So make these answers count. Highlight specific accomplishments not just with numbers, but with visual stories that are easily remembered. Also, ask questions of the interviewers that show you’re interested in them as people. This will help you and create a positive, real relationship.
3. Be Polite to Everyone
Focus on being polite and friendly with everyone—not just the hiring team. Along with skill set and qualifications, the hiring team’s also looking at your ability to behave under pressure, work with others, and demonstrate confidence. We look for candidates who treat everyone with respect and friendliness, not candidates who try to take power from other people.
4. Be Confident and Knowledgeable
Appearing comfortable in what can be an uncomfortable situation for some is impressive. I want to hire people who are smarter than I am in their fields. Prove to me you’re an expert and worth hiring. I want someone who is going to crush his job and make our company grow!
5. Show You Care About Teamwork
Group interviews are a great time to look into the team aspect of a company, for employees and employers alike. You should be asking questions about how you’ll fit in with the group, how the team works together, how you can help the team, and more. Employers will be impressed that you want to be part of their team dynamic and are more likely to say ‘you’re hired’ than if you focus on your individual abilities.
6. Point Out Problems and Their Solutions
If we’re hiring for a specific position—like HR or project management—I’d expect that candidate to come to the interview with specific solutions to problems we didn’t even know existed. By doing the homework on our business, it shows you care about the job. Nobody wants to hire someone he needs to spend more than a few weeks teaching. The best ideas always win.
7. Demonstrate Clarity of Thought
Demonstrate clarity of thought and a winning personality in response to unusual situations and questions. When we conduct job interviews, we ask, ‘When was the last time you made someone smile?’ The answer tells us a lot more about the candidate’s attributes than a resume, references, and traditional questions.
8. Prove You’re Curious
At Y Scouts, we often conduct group interviews with leadership candidates. There’s a direct correlation between a positive impression and the amount of research a candidate conducts going into the interview. They know who the people are in the room before walking through the door. They have prepared questions that fill in the blanks for the data they couldn’t uncover. In short, they’re curious.
9. Bring Up Side Projects
I love seeing side projects from potential candidates. Even if a person isn’t qualified, seeing his creativity and marketing skills is something that’s much more important to me. So I tend to look for someone who has done amazing projects on his own before.
10. Show Up Early
Make sure you’re the first one there. Chances are you will get some one-on-one face time with the interviewer so that you can hopefully start building rapport before everyone else shows up! And, even if you don’t get the opportunity to speak one-on-one, it’s likely that the hiring manager will remember your preparation and eager arrival.
11. Blend In
There’s nothing more important to us than our culture. We are diverse, yet maintain a certain energy and attitude that we hold dear. During a group interview, aptitude, competency, and answering questions properly are often less important than whether or not an individual is fitting in with the group. It is so vital to us that a candidate feel like a member of our team before she becomes part of it.
12. Make Us Remember You
Most important thing to do if you want to get the job? Tell us what you can do for us. An interview is a chance for a job applicant to share her talents, skills, and ideas; it’s her time to wow us. You need to make sure you’ve done your research and that you know everything you can about our company and clients. Stand out and make an impression that we can’t forget.
13. Share What You’re Passionate About
As part of the hiring process, we ask potential candidates to give a ‘passion presentation’ in which they share something they’re passionate about for a few minutes. One of the most impressive passion presentations involved an original song performed on guitar. That’s not to say everyone needs to be a musician, but we do notice people who surprise us with creativity.
14. Demonstrate That You’re a Team Player
Trying your hardest to steal the limelight and impress everyone won’t do the trick in a group interview setting. Engage in the conversation, be yourself, and show us that you can work and thrive as a team member. Prove to us that you will be a great addition not only because of your ability to produce great results, but also because of your ability to build relationships and work in a team.
15. Do Your Homework
The most impressed I’ve been in a group interview was with an applicant who printed out our website and brought it along for reference. From reviewing the staff page, she immediately knew everyone’s role in the room and each of our backstories and products. She didn’t need to say she was detail-oriented or would be a good learner. Instead, she demonstrated those things. That was huge.
16. Describe the Worst Job You’ve Ever Had
Show me you’ve been in the trenches. Show me you’re willing to do whatever it takes to get the job. Those are the people I want. Most entrepreneurial jobs nowadays start out being all about the spade work, or at least they should. If you’re not willing to put the time in and do the work most people do not want to do, then you’re simply not cut out for the job.