A group interview involves more than two candidates. It offers a unique experience, different from traditional one-on-one interviews. Preparing for one can help you get the job you want. In this article, we explain the types of group interviews and provide popular group interview questions with example answers. We also provide helpful tips to succeed in a group interview.
Types of group interview
There are two types of group interviews:
1. Multiple-candidate group interview
A multiple-candidate group interview involves one interviewer and several candidates. This type of group interview is popular in industries such as hospitality, food service, retail and other jobs involving fast-paced work. Recruiters use multiple-candidate group interviews when they want to hire several people quickly. They also use it to determine which candidates would work well together.
2. Panel interview
A panel interview involves one candidate and multiple members of a hiring team. The interviewers are typically a human resources representative, supervisor and another key decision-maker. Companies use panel interviews to get more information about a candidate from different perspectives. It is also an opportunity to show how you interact with multiple people because each interviewer asks questions related to their field.
Read more: Panel Interviews: Definition and Advice
Candidate group interview questions (with answers)
In a multiple-candidate group interview, an interviewer can take one of two approaches. They either ask everyone to answer all the same questions or ask each candidate one question. Common group interview questions to prepare for include:
1. Based on what you know about other candidates, what do you think makes you stand out?
The goal of this question is to find out why you think you're the best fit for the role. It's an opportunity to share your qualifications that others don't have. Express what makes you unique and respect other candidates.
Example answer: "I think my sales manager experience of over seven years makes me stand out. I also believe my academic background in business administration and training from the Canadian Professional Sales Association would be valuable to your organization. I'm fluent in French and English, which allows me to communicate with more customers."
Read more: Interview Question: "What Makes You Unique?"
2. What skills do you think are the most important for this position?
Interviewers ask this to determine whether you understand the position you're applying for. They also want to know how you would apply your skills to succeed in this role.
Example answer: "I believe the most important skills to succeed as a financial planner are numeracy and data analysis skills. Numeracy helps in investing capital, creating budgets and making other decisions that involve calculations. Data analysis helps in analyzing financial data to make informed decisions. I'm confident I have both skills and am eager to apply them in your bank."
3. How would you grade your communication skills?
Interviewers ask this question to determine your self-awareness. They also want to know how you would overcome communication challenges. Use an example to express your communication skills.
Example answer: "I think I'm a great communicator and would grade myself nine out of 10. From my experience, the best way to communicate with people is to understand how they receive messages. In my previous brand ambassador role, I met with unique personalities. I found that face-to-face conversations at promotional events were more effective with middle-aged customers than having online discussions. I look forward to applying my well-developed communication skills in this role with your organization."
4. Describe your ability to work in a fast-paced environment
This question aims to find out whether your working style aligns with the company's culture. Express yourself clearly and describe your experience completing fast-paced work.
Example answer: "I thrive in fast-paced environments. I enjoy staying busy and attending to several customers that come into a pharmacy. My last role was just a few kilometres from the general hospital, so I had many customers to attend to during working hours. I'm happy to bring the same effort and dedication to your pharmacy."
Panel interview questions (with example answers)
Some common panel interview questions to prepare for include:
1. Tell us more about yourself and your work experience.
Interviewers ask this question to find out more about you and determine whether you're the right candidate for the job vacancy. Explain points on your resume and cover letter and focus on your recent accomplishments.
Example answer: "I'm a goal-oriented automation engineer with three years of work experience in the manufacturing sector. I love cars and making technological products work. Before I got my first automation engineering role, I earned a bachelor's degree in manufacturing automation and robotics from the University of British Columbia. I want to use my technical skills to contribute to your company's goal of produce safe self-driving cars."
2. Can you describe a situation when you worked with employees from another department to achieve an objective?
Interviewers ask this question to assess your ability to collaborate with other professionals to reach a shared goal.
Example answer: "At my last job as a marketing coordinator, I frequently worked with customer service representatives. We collaborated to come up with effective marketing strategies for the company's brand. I also collaborated with the technical team to understand what feedback customers left on our website. Working with employees in other departments helped me realize we didn't focus enough strategies on social media. That assessment made it easy to change that in the following quarter."
3. What would you say is your greatest strength?
The goal of this question is to find out whether a candidate knows their greatest asset and how to apply it to a role. Discuss how you can use your greatest strength to help the company reach its goals.
Example answer: "My greatest strength is my ability to create fully functional websites within strict deadlines. With three years of experience as a web developer, I am proficient in React, NodeJS, Figma and other technologies to design and build websites. I also have strong communication skills, which help me communicate my work to non-technical professionals. I'm confident I can make a difference in your software institute and lead a team of junior website developers to reach your software targets for the year."
4. Can you explain why you're interested in this position?
The goal of this question is to understand what attracted you to the job opportunity. Show your enthusiasm for the company when answering this question. You may also include how you intend to contribute to the organization if given the opportunity.
Example answer: "I want this position because I believe in your goal to make education accessible to everyone. Coming from a developing country, I struggled to get a good education. I think everyone should have the opportunity to educate themselves. My five-years of work experience on a similar project would be valuable to your organization. I'm also confident that working at your non-profit organization would provide me with relevant management experience."
Tips to succeed at a group interview
Follow these tips in your next group interview:
Your potential employer may let you in on the type of interview to expect. To ensure you succeed, prepare talking points about your skills, education, professional experience, and other qualifications. Be eager to share examples of your achievements and how you overcame challenges in your previous role. Consider practicing answers to behavioural questions with a friend, career coach or family member.
If you're going for a panel interview, research the panellists in advance. You may politely ask the contact person to send their names and find out about their roles and work experience. Also, come with enough business cards and copies of your resume to share with each panellist.
Related: How To Prepare for a Job Interview
Practice open-body language, such as making eye contact, sitting up straight and keeping your arms in front of your body. Project your voice when answering a question so everyone can hear you. Showing confidence tells an interviewer that you prepared and are excited about the job opportunity. You may also ask your interviewer questions at the end of the meeting.
Always treat interviewers and candidates with respect. Allow others the opportunity to speak and avoid dominating discussions. Engaging in conversations with interviewers and candidates shows that you have strong interpersonal skills, which are important for many positions.
When at a group interview, ensure you listen actively, even if the interviewer isn't addressing you. Refer back to another candidate or interviewer's comments whenever possible to show you're focused on the interview.