Large employers who get lots of applications for sales jobs or are recruiting for a group of individuals, may use group interviews to whittle the pool of talent down to a small list of candidates who are suitable for the job.

Group interviews are frequently used by sales firms when selecting a new intake of trainee sales executives, graduate recruits and telesales professionals.

These group interviews may be part of a wider assessment day. Employers say they’re a good way to compare and contrast candidates, spot shy, and more introverted individuals, and those who dominate a discussion – all of which will help find the right people for the job and the company. Group interviews also demonstrate how each person works as part of a team, interacts with others and performs under pressure.

Below, we’ll take you through what you should expect from a group interview, and what you need to do to stand out.

 

Types of group interviews

There are two types of group interviews:

  • Group interviews and group activities: One interviewer questions multiple candidates, who each take it in turns to answer the same question. The goal of this process? To stand out from the crowd. They may also include group activities, where you have to work as a team to complete a task. In sales jobs, participants will likely be asked to create a presentation of the company’s products, which will be delivered back to the group. 
  • Panel interview: For this process, you will answer questions from multiple interviewers, which might consist of a HR representative, the person who’ll be managing you, and someone who works in the role already, and understands the ins and outs of it. Panel interviews tend to feel rather invasive because of the amount of follow up questions you’re likely to get from one base question. 

 

Tips and preparation

Some of us are more comfortable than others in a group setting. Trying to stand out from the crowd when the competition is fierce, can invite alot of nerves in the run up to the interview. However, if you approach a group interview with the right attitude, it can be an effective way of demonstrating first hand your skills and personality.

It’s important to be able to use the group interview to sell your most important product – yourself. Bear this in mind when preparing and taking part in the group interview.

1. Make sure you know who is interviewing you

Regardless of the type of group interview, this is essential, Find out their name, position at the company, anything that can break the ice, and why they’re hiring. A key tip here is to listen carefully when the panel are introducing themselves. 

2. Meet and greets

The people around you could be co-workers in the very near future, so be friendly, and get to know everyone. This will help to ease the nerves if you’ve been introduced to everyone before the interview starts.Feeling more comfortable will allow you to speak your mind more confidently once the interviewers start firing questions towards you. 

3. Listen

Because the interviewer will be asking the same question to you and number of other people, listen intently to what whoever before you has said, and try to come up with different angles/ways of answering the question in play. Expand on their points, and add your own twist to it. This is a great way of showing you understand what’s been put to the table already, but that you’re thinking outside the box. 

4. Answer first

If your interviewer is asking questions and inviting you all to speak up in response, try to get your answer in first, just a few times. Speaking up displays a level of confidence and interest the interviewer might not see if you wait your turn. It’ll be much easier to stand out if you can set the tone for each topic.

5. Body language speaks loudly

Body language at a job interview is so much more important than you think. Keep your chin up, back relaxed, make eye contact, smile and use your hands when you are speaking – show the interviewer you are comfortable in this environment. You’ll easily stand out next to anyone looking at the floor, twiddling their thumbs and slouching. 

 

Do

Prepare to talk about yourself – The interviewer will be keen to get to know you as a person, so try to imagine all of the common interview questions coming your way like “Tell me about yourself”, or “Do you have any hobbies?” or “If you were stuck on an island what three things would you want with you?” 

Articulate – Sales interviewers are searching for individuals who excel at communication. Go in with clear ideas about what you think about big news events of the week, for example. A bit of humour might go down well too.

Grab the opportunity – Sometimes it’s hard to get a word in edgeways in group interviews, so make sure you have your say! The sooner you can make a point, the better. Sitting back and listening won’t get you anywhere in a sales interview, let alone the job.

 

Don’t

Argue – Group interviews can leave you exasperated, and the opportunity may arise for you to disagree with another individual, or vice versa. If this happens, be professional. Everyone has their own opinion, but the interviewer will be looking to identify whether you would be a good fit for their team. Stomp on the other person’s parade and you could be seen to be looking out for number one. Respect everyone’s views, but still make sure you get your thoughts across clearly.

Get tongue-tied – If you can’t think of anything to say, don’t open your mouth. Think before you speak to avoid any awkward silences.

Be false – Employers want to see the real you, not someone acting out how they think a sales executive would behave in a group discussion.

 

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