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How to Stand Out In a Group Interview

September 2010 (SmartPros) Upon learning that they've landed a job interview, most people envision -- and prepare for -- a one-on-one meeting with a hiring manager. While this traditional interview format remains the most common, be aware that there are other types of interviews you might encounter.

There are two kinds of group interviews, for instance. In a panel group interview you’ll be asked questions by, as the name implies, a panel of two or more hiring managers. In a candidate group interview, which is the focus of this particular article, you’ll be interviewed along with several other applicants.

Interviewing multiple candidates simultaneously gives employers the opportunity to observe applicants’ interpersonal and teamwork abilities. Being stuck in a room with the competition might sound nerve-racking, but it also gives you an excellent opportunity to showcase your strong leadership and communication abilities. Following are tips to help you stand out:

Assert yourself — respectfully. If the interview is structured as an open dialogue, make your voice heard, but never at the expense of interrupting others. Even if you interject with brilliant comments, you’ll likely be regarded as rude for cutting others off. When you do have the floor, keep your comments concise to avoid dominating the discussion.

Think on your feet. The interviewer asks a question and you formulate a fantastic answer in your head as you wait your turn to respond. But what happens when somebody steals your thunder by making that same point before you get the chance? Stay on your toes and be ready with Plan B. Rather than simply saying, “I agree with what Kate just said,” offer a comment that expands upon the issue and goes more in-depth.

Turn the tables. Not all candidates in the room will have done their homework. Set yourself apart by asking the interviewer highly informed questions that underscore the fact you’ve done significant research. Prior to the interview, study the job description and closely read the company’s website, marketing materials and recent annual reports.

Play up your people skills. The interviewer may split the group into smaller teams and assign a hypothetical problem to resolve. While some of your fellow interviewees might attempt to sabotage or undermine others, rise above the fray and act like a leader. Be a gracious team player, strive to build consensus, offer praise when you hear a good idea, and try to involve quieter members in the conversation. 

Accountemps is the world’s first and largest temporary staffing service specializing in the placement of accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. The company has more than 360 offices throughout North America, South America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, and offers online job search services at

2010 SmartPros Ltd. All rights reserved.

Source: Accountemps

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