Group interviews – Do’s and Dont’s (PART 2)

Group interviews … to companies they are an effective way to identify promising candidates and begin the screening process is in a group interview.

To candidates… they evoke either your flight or fight response depending on your previous experiences and believe me, I’ve heard some tales. But on the whole, they are a good way to compare and contrast candidates also demonstrate how each individual works as part of a team, and how they perform under pressure.

Here in a TWO-PART series…

The Do’s (inception horn)

And the Don’ts (inception horn)

Now that you have taken heed of the previous Do’s blog, it seems only right we give you some essential don’ts so that you can become the master of Group interviews…


Be fake

It may be a cliché, but sometimes the best advice is just to be yourself. Chances are your interviewers will be experienced in group situations, and therefore adept in detecting when someone’s overdoing it.

Trying too hard to stand out is not going to make you many friends, especially amongst your assessors, so always try to be as genuine as possible. See also: laughter. Unless you’re going for a job as a pantomime villain, leave your over-exuberant chuckles and guffaws at the door.

Talk over people

This is one of the most common mistakes of the group interview try-hard. When the competitive nature of the interview kicks in, it can be tempting to increase the volume to get your point across. However, whatever role you’re applying for, you should never underestimate the importance of teamwork.

Remember: the wisest people don’t always speak the loudest, but they always make their voices heard.

Get lost in the group

There is a fine balance between this point and the last. It’s highly likely that, whether genuine or not, one or two people in the group will try and take control. If and when this happens, don’t let yourself be intimidated or overwhelmed. Instead, use them to your advantage.

If you don’t agree with their points, feel free to be controversial and offer your own opinion, then open up the discussion to the group.

Become too informal

As in any other interview situation, there’s a certain etiquette for group interviews which should always be adhered to. It’s fine to appear comfortable and relaxed in some instances. For example, taking your coat/scarf/hand-knitted woolly mittens off is perfectly acceptable (and indeed can be a particular bugbear for some recruiters if left on).

Do not, however, use this as an excuse to leave your manners at the door.

  1. don’t refer to your interviewers or co-interviewees as ‘mate’. Your interviewers are not your friends.
  1. never swear. Being controversial is ok, as long as you have a well-articulated, polite and appropriate argument. Being rude, vulgar or offensive, however, is definitely not.
  2. avoid discussing any excesses you might enjoy in your own time (obvious topics include gambling and drinking etc, but we’re sure you get the picture). Perhaps save that particular tale for another day/week/lifetime – it’s unlikely to impress

Lose concentration

Finally, it’s essential to maintain concentration at all times. Take notes, keep eye contact at an acceptable (and socially acceptable) level, smile, nod, and generally try and look enthusiastic and engaged throughout.

Avoid spending your time staring off into space, or worse, checking your phone during proceedings. The same also applies to doodling. If you can’t listen to the introductory presentation without practicing your inner Picasso, you probably won’t be invited back any time soon.

Other things not to do: Make too much eye contact, insult the other interviewees, insult the interviewers, cry.

Now that you have become a Group interview master, check out our current vacancies to see if anything takes your fancy?

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