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Group Interviews And Group Interview Questions Explained

On the first page of our Job Interviews Guide we said there were several types of job interview and explained the 'typical' interview.

Here we cover group interviews and the kind of group interview questions to expect.

Group Interviews

From time to time, employers will use group job interviews, particularly when they have a need to recruit a large number of employees at once (graduate or trainee schemes for example).

These interviews are typically conducted in the form of a large group of candidates being asked questions or being led in some sort of exercise by several interviewers.

You can't really predict what group interview questions you'll be asked or which exercises you'll be invited to participate in, making it difficult to prepare for the specifics. However, there are some things you can do to be better prepared for these situations in general.

The company looking to hire will already have picked what appear to be the most suitable candidates based on their resumes, CVs, job application forms and cover letters so you have something they want. But a group interview gives them the opportunity to weed out the less suitable candidates all at once. It takes far less time this way than it does interviewing each candidate individually.

The questions or exercises will typically be intended to mirror work dilemmas or situations. The group will often be split into teams and each team given a question to answer, problem to solve or goal to achieve. Each group is usually asked to present their answer, solution or result to the group.

There will sometimes be non-work related questions to answer, such as the famous example in which you are asked to tell the interviewers which 50 of 100 people should be saved from a sinking ship. These questions tend to spur heated discussion and the interviewers can learn a lot about a candidate's decision making process and negotiation skills.

The interviewers will usually make the rounds of the room and see how the groups are working as the exercise goes on. They may ask questions, will probably take notes and may even provide ideas or encouragement along the way.

While it is the group they are watching, they are really interested in the performance of individuals, so it is important to make a good impression on the interviewers.

Interviewers will take note of:

  • How well you interact with others
  • How good you are at influencing and persuading others on your team
  • Whether you work well in group settings
  • How effective a communicator you are
  • Whether you reach decisions based on logic or on emotion
  • If you have good listening skills
  • How well you cope with stress

Interviewers are also likely to be interested in seeing who emerges as group leaders and how well they delegate tasks to other group members. The way that others react to the leader is also something they will notice.

They will want to know if the leader:

  • Involves all team members, even those who do not speak up on their own
  • Can take feedback into account and change direction accordingly
  • Listens and asks questions
  • Gives praise where praise is due

As we said before, there's no way of knowing what group interview questions you'll be asked, so it's harder to prepare for a group interview than it is for an individual one.

job interview dressing

But there are some things you can do to make sure that you do well, whatever the group interview question or task, and if you download this Job Interview Guide we'll include tips on how to prepare for group interview questions.

Multiple Interviews

Sometimes, following typical individual interviews, a handful of candidates are invited back for a second interview.

Here's our advice if you are called for a second job interview or even a third or fourth!

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