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Standing Out In A Group Interview: A Complete Guide

. 6 min read . Written by Shayri Bhattacharya
Standing Out In A Group Interview: A Complete Guide

‘Tis the season for interviews – for university admissions and jobs! And while we contemplate on one on one interviews, it’s time to turn our attention towards something that’s soon becoming the norm. Group interviews are increasingly becoming a go-to method for interviewers to assess a candidate’s interpersonal skills. So,  what is a group interview or a group exercise interview? How can you best  introduce yourself or stand out in a group interview? Well, you’ve come to the right place, for we are here to assuage your fears!

What Is A Group Interview?

First things first, it’s important to understand the meaning of a group interview.

Group interviews and group activities or exercises are methods used to assess a candidate’s team working and soft skills.

Usually, around 7 to 8 candidates are interviewed by one or two interviewers. They might provide you with a relevant topic (social or economic) to discuss. A few minutes are provided to collect your thoughts and jot down points before the discussion starts. 

In a group activity, all the candidates are expected to come together and perform a task. It could be a presentation, a pitch, or a skit. The idea is to critically evaluate a candidate’s comfort and willingness to work in a team and be contributing instead of unnecessarily competitive. 

How To Prepare For A Group Interview

a paper with the word research typesd out on in by a typewriter
Research the company well to tailor your answers accordingly.

So, before you go for one, you need to prepare yourself in a manner that is focused on group interviews. Here are a few things you can put in your checklist before you head out to ace that interview:

Be Calm, Friendly, And Confident: This is a sure-shot way to handle group interview questions. Group interviews are all about testing your personality and interpersonal skills. So, make sure you present yourself as someone they’d want to have in their team. It is a game of nerves. There might be moments when the discussion might not go as you planned. Try not to lose your calm and be a good listener for some extra brownie points. Eventually, put forth your points with  a positive attitude while welcoming any kind of contradictions. 

Practice group discussions with your friends to monitor your behaviour.

Remember that your approach and body language is super important in a group interview. 

Have An Introduction Prepared: How to introduce yourself in a group interview? It is very likely that the interviewer will ask each of the candidates to introduce themselves before the discussion begins. You need to have a suitable introduction prepared.

Highlight your skills and past achievements. It’s best to keep your introduction brief and concise.

Confused about what skills to include in the short span? This is where the next point comes in!

Research The Institution/Company: There is absolutely NO substitute for this. You need to know where you want to be. There’s no such  thing as too much research.

This will help you understand the company’s perspective. You can tailor your answers accordingly, but always be truthful. 

Bring Your Certificates: What to bring to a group interview? Well, proof! Whatever you mention about yourself in your introduction needs to be testified on paper. You should arrange your school and college certificates starting from the most recent to the oldest, and carry it in a professional file. You can carry samples of your extracurricular activities as well. If you’re applying for a creative job, do carry your portfolio along. For example, if you write poetry, you can carry some of your writings. You never know when it may come in handy ! 

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Group Discussion Topics For Interviews 

While it is impossible to know what topic you’d be getting in a group discussion, knowing about general current affairs will suffice. When figuring how to prepare for a group interview, know that, group discussion topics can be of 3 types:

Case-Based: A business case, a political strategy, or an ethical dilemma could be presented to you. You will have to decipher the case, understand the major points of contention, come up with logical solutions, and back them up with strong arguments.

A good way to prepare for this would be to read the newspaper daily and understand the core issue for each topic you read. Try to find plausible solutions and think about the arguments. 

Topical: These are the burning issues (national or international) around you. The key thing to remember here is – It is a discussion, NOT a debate!  

There’s no syllabus for this. Read a newspaper religiously every day and know your surroundings! 

Group Exercise: Your group interview might not be an interview at all! It could be a task an entire group is asked to prepare and perform within a stipulated time. There really aren’t any preparation techniques for this. Try to keep working on your sociability skills and think on your feet! 

Group Interview Tips – How To Stand Out In A Group Interview 

two women talking about how to prepare for a group interview
A little bit of pre interview networking might just help you crack the interview

Whetherit  is a group exercise or a group discussion interview, when you know who your competitors are, you know whom to outperform. But, balance is the key in such group activities. You should not come across as someone too eager to impress or someone who is a bad listener. This is imperetive to standing out in a group interview.

Listen, Process, And React: Listening is super important in a group interview. Be respectful and listen to the speaker. Never stop paying attention or react to their words. Nod your head in agreement or smile when someone is struggling to speak.

Showing support and respect should be your top priority.  

Take Notes: You’re usually provided with a pen and a notepad in a group discussion. Use them well. Make pointers while another candidate is speaking and to remember your rebuttals against it. Don’t try to keep all your pointers in your mind because, well, they wouldn’t stay there long! Use this tip even when you figure out how to prepare for a group interview.

Pre-Interview Networking: To prepare well for the group interview reach the venue 30 minutes prior to the interview and get to know the people around. This helps to build a basic level of comfort while talking to a person in the group discussion setting.

Be Aware Of Your Body Language: Fist thumping a desk or slouching are things one should avoid in a group interview. It’s best to keep your hands to yourself and minimise any hand movements. If you’re someone who uses their hands a lot while talking, you might want to do some practice to avoid the same. Excessive hand movements often make the interviewer sense a lack of depth in your content or content delivery. Don’t keep your arms folded. Be comfortable and look approachable for standing out in a group interview. 

If you follow these little tips, be assured that your hard work will bear fruits. We understand that interviews are bound to make you anxious, but believe in yourself. You deserve the best and you shouldn’t be afraid to go out and geddit! 

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