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tinyfaery's avatar

Help with a group interview?

Asked by tinyfaery (42910points) September 9th, 2008

I have a second interview for a great new job. Since I will be working with a team, my interview will be with the 4 others I could be working with. I can’t help but feel this will be more of a popularity contest than a search to find the best candidate.

I know personality and the ability to mesh with the group is an important part of the job. The problem is, I am not a shmoozer. I’ve never had a that “group mentality”, I’m not good at small talk, and many times people are put off by me when they first meet me. I get a lot of “I thought you didn’t like me when we first met.” I’m a bit shy, and this often comes off as arrogant. But I do work well in a group. I’m very outgoing, and fun when I get to know people. I’m also extremely organized, which is always an asset.

I don’t know how to approach this. Any ideas, suggestions, help? I’m very nervous. And, as some of you might know, I desperately want and need a new job.

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39 Answers

augustlan's avatar

Why not be as honest about your disposition as you are above? Explain that you’re a bit shy at first, and nervous as well, but that you really enjoy working as part of a team and have done quite well in that environment. You’ll do fine, so try to relax :)

Bri_L's avatar

I usually try and feed off their group dynamic. Usually their will be a competition on their behalf to show pony for your sake to.

Also, they will still have questions for you. The increase in number may just mean more chance for more questions which will help avoid the opportunity for long silence.

Maybe you could even say “I’m a bit shy at first but working in a team environment really helps me open up”.

Also, any chance you get to ask a question about something one of them says out of interset, do so. A it shows interest in the position and b. sets them up for mingling and banter.

Good luck and let us know how it goes.

shadling21's avatar

I like the suggestions above. If you are honest about yourself, they will respect you more. And don’t sound self-depricating (don’t apologize for your personality), but show how your more introverted personality can fit in with the group. Being rather shy myself, I usually will quietly make suggestions and encourage the ideas of others by smiling and nodding.

Paying attention to your body language can help too.

poofandmook's avatar

@tinyfaery: I have been there more than once. I’m very shy, and job interviews are hell for me because of it. I just try to make myself.. sort of… temporarily believe that I don’t need the job. Combine that with an outfit you know you look stunning in, and it’ll boost your personality a bit out of the shy zone.

JackAdams's avatar

If I may, I’ll share a bit of a job interview I had, several years ago, conducted by 3 people who were formerly employed by those fun folks who brought you, The Spanish Inquisition

During the course of this interview (where I sweated 3 gallons of blood, with every question asked), one questioner queried, “What would you say is your greatest asset, that you can bring to our company?”

I casually replied, “That I am, respectfully, the LAZIEST individual you’ll ever have on your payroll.”

After much silence, one of the 3 asked, “And why, if we may inquire, would we desire someone like that, in our employ?”

Leaning slightly forward, I replied, “Because it was a very lazy person, who invented the elevator.”

The person who asked that question also leaned forward slightly and asked, “Can you start work on Monday?”

Bri_L's avatar

JackAdams – I was the guy who instructed him to do it.

Just kidding. EXCELLENT example.

JackAdams's avatar

I believe you, Bri_L.

I’ve read your résumé at the Post Office.

LOL! Just joking!

whatthefluther's avatar

@tinyfaery…All good suggestions, above. Bri_L is right on about competition among the interviewing group. They will each be trying to look good for their collective boss, if present, and/or you. Just recognize this, avoid getting in the middle of a dispute, do be honest about your shyness (but make it clear that you do not lack self confidence either in words or how you present yourself) and always be prepared to discuss why you want this job, how and why you feel you meet the requirements for it and where you hope this job will lead in the future.

wildflower's avatar

When you walk in, make sure you acknowledge each of the interviewers. Most likely there will be 1 or 2 leading the interview, the others will take notes and jump in if they have clarifying questions, or additional ones at the end.

I wouldn’t see it as a popularity contest as much as a chance for you to give one consistent impression – the alternative could be that each of them interviewed you separately and then they compare notes – which would be much worse!

Best advice I can give you is to treat it as a business meeting where you hold the information to be shared and all the other participants are eager to receive.

When you answer questions, make sure you first turn to the asker, but if you notice one of the others looking up and taking an interest, look to them as you’re speaking, as well.

Also, you can turn this around; this is a chance for you to evaluate the work environment better, because you’ll be exposed to several of the colleagues in this one meeting and you’ll have 5 times as many opportunities to impress as you would in a 1×1 interview :)

Bri_L's avatar

@JA hehe

My other advice was to punch out the biggest one.

ht1979's avatar

One thing I would add is that you should make sure to smile, especially at the beginning and end. It’s fine to look pensive or thoughtful while crafting your answers, but I think many people draw their initial conclusions about people they’re “judging” based upon how their demeanor comes across. The expression on your face is a huge part of this. I have a good friend who is completely down-to-earth, laid-back, friendly, funny, fun, etc, but she has a bad reputation, I think, b/c her “at rest” facial expression is one that doesn’t come across as friendly/warm.

shilolo's avatar

I’m a little confused. Is this a group interview where there will be several interviewers, or, one in which multiple interviewees will be placed together during an interview. I have dealt with both, and never really liked the later. That certainly felt like a competition and/or popularity contest. As for the group interview with multiple interviewers, I would treat it like any other interview. Look each person in the eye when you speak, paying particular attention to the person asking the question.

As a naive, impressionable 21 year old, I had to face a group interview for medical school with more than 20 people in the room, all interviewing me. It was a daunting proposition. I knew it was my one shot to impress, so I tried to put my best foot forward. At one point, one the interviewers focused on a summer internship I had done at a pharmaceutical company and asked me, “How would you design this drug so as to make it successful?” I was thinking, “How the hell would I know, I was a peon?”, but I answered, in jest “I don’t know. BUT, if I did, I wouldn’t be hear interviewing today, and someone would be paying me a lot of money right now.” The whole room burst into laughter. As I left, another interviewee who was waiting outside asked incredulously “What did you say to them?”

I was worried that the questioner would think I embarrassed him, but in the end, I was accepted (though I didn’t end up going there). So, my point is to be yourself, relax, and focus on giving the best answers you can.

tinyfaery's avatar

Thanks to all of you. My interview is on Friday, so I have plenty of time to prepare. I used to be involved in interviewing people, so I know the basics; unfortunately, I also know that sometimes decisions are made on petty, irrelevant issues.

I like the idea of maybe finding a commonality or a question that can incite a more intimate discussion.

I’ll give ya’ll an update.—This could be a little embarrassing if I don’t get the job, since the topic is out in public, so to speak.

marinelife's avatar

Good luck on the interview, tinyfaery. Feel positive that you jumped the first hurdle and made it to the second interview. There is a lot of good advice above. The only thing I would add is to maybe work on re-framing for yourself the upcoming experience in a positive light.

I don’t think you should consider it a popularity contest. Often, companies use this technique to let secondary stakeholders (not the final decisionmaker, but people whose input is desired) interact with the candidates, but not take too much time out of the day for either side. Try to think of this as an opportunity for you to get to meet and engage more people than a normal interview process allows, and to see some of the group dynamics at work. That way, you may go into it feeling better and that may come across in your demeanor.

As a manager, I once got feedback years ago that I was too terse when giving instructions. It was a very fast-moving work environment, and I just expected that people would ask for clarification if they needed it. But when I got the feedback, I made an effort to change my approach. I tried to stop and focus fully on the person I was talking to. I made an effort to smile (no matter how badly my day was going), and I made it a habit to ask if everything was clear before they left and if they had any additional questions. The feedback next time around was much more positive.

Maybe you could get a friend you trust to give you more detailed feedback regarding the kind of first impression you make. Is it that you don’t smile, is it that you cross your arms (or other body language)? Consciously think about what might be causing you to be perceived as arrogant. Sadly, interviewees don’t get second chances or “time to get to be known” so any preparation you can do to avoid leaving that impression is helpful.

Knock ‘em dead!

JackAdams's avatar

Please don’t “Knock ‘em dead,” unless you DON’T get hired.

Knotmyday's avatar

I’m not naturally gregarious, but I have to interact with the public daily. So, I have to mentally remind myself to smile, shake hands, make eye-contact etc. It helps to find a quit spot just before a meeting or interview and give yourself a reassuring pep-talk, jump up and down, breathe innnnn…..breathe ooooooout.

Hang on. Sorry, I’m back. There was a stick in my granola bar, and I choked on it just now. Weird, never had that happen before, yuck.

Anyway, the point is, mentally prepare yourself, and relax. During the course of the interview, you will discover whether you even like your potential co-workers; essentially, you are interviewing them at the same time. You’ll find out on the day- so go with the flow. Best of luck!

webmasterwilliam's avatar

I recommend that one of the most important aspects of the interview is your body language. Don’t fidget and squirm, don’t tap a pencil, don’t twiddle your fingers. Most importantly, MAKE CONSTANT EYE CONTACT. When you shake people’s hands, look them in the eye when you do it. Look them in the eye when you answer their questions. Remember, the eyes are the windows to the soul, and your willingness to look at them shows volumes about who you are.

JackAdams's avatar

That look them in the eye advice, is probably the best interview advice, anyone can be given.

I suggest everyone mark that as a great answer, and then do whatever you can, to help that nice person pay off his mortgage.

shadling21's avatar

By “constant eye contact”, I suspect that webmasterwilliam means that you politely look them in the eyes while conversing. Or should you stare at them intently and run around the room to stay within their gaze? It’s up to you, really…

scamp's avatar

@ Tiny, I have nothing to add except to say Good Luck Girl!! Let us know how it goes.

augustlan's avatar

Good luck tomorrow!

nina's avatar

Pretend to yourself that you are interviewing those people. Ask them a lot of interested question, particularly like, ‘What do YOU personally think about…?’, listen to the answers attentively and ask follow on questions. By the end of the interview – you will know them… and they will love you.

shadling21's avatar

General questions are usually the most tough. A simple, “Tell me about yourself” can be the hardest to answer – how do you sum up your entire being with a couple of sentences? Plan your answers, but allow yourself to improvise enough to keep things smooth.

Good luck!

scamp's avatar

How did it go???

Bri_L's avatar

Talk talk talk!

augustlan's avatar

C’mon Tiny, spill!

tinyfaery's avatar

Well, the interview went well, but I didn’t get the job. They did say I was one of two candidates they were considering, but they ultimately went with the person with more experience. They said they would keep me in mind, and that if things didn’t work out with the person they hired I would be next on their list. I feel good about it though. I was applying for a job that would be a step up in my career (Program Director), and the fact that they considered me has given me hope. I will have a new and better job by the end of the year.

Thank you all! I used your advice. i even made them laugh a few times. I told you I can be fun when I relax.

augustlan's avatar

Good job tiny! Take that confidence with you the next time!

scamp's avatar

Damn! That sukcs.
Sorry you didn’t get it, but now you have group interview experience, so you will wow them next time.

whatthefluther's avatar

Tiny…Good show…you should be proud and I love your well-deserved confidence. Obviously you impressed them significantly throughout the entire process, so much so they kept you in serious consideration competing against someone with more experience for whom this position may have been a lateral or even step down as opposed to being a step up for you. They know you are right for the position…your added confidence will cement the next opportunity! Bravo!

Bri_L's avatar

Nicely done Tiny!!! Way to be!

Hold your head up high.

tinyfaery's avatar

Thanks for your good wishes. I’m giving you GAs because you have made me feel good about myself.

shadling21's avatar

Rock on dood. A Program Director of what, if you don’t mind me asking?

marinelife's avatar

Next time will go even better, TF. You deserve a better job!

deaddolly's avatar

All of the above offers great advice. When I interview someone, I look for someone who smiles easily and had a good personality (while being fully qualified). A nice firm, not SWEATY, handshake helps too. And eye contact is important. But, above all else, be honest and friendly.

Spargett's avatar

Have a stiff drink before the interview.

Judi's avatar

Did you get the job?

tinyfaery's avatar

Not this job, but I did get another one that did not have a group interview. :)

Judi's avatar

I hope it’s a job you love :-)

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