Group interviews – part two

How to prepare
When you are contacted about your selection for a group interview, Ms Whyatt advises candidates to ask for a job description. CareerOne would add that you should pose any other questions you want answered regarding what is going to happen and what you should bring.Some CareerOne readers have reported that companies were unhelpful when they asked such questions. Just remember that there is nothing wrong with asking and that the more information you gain, the better prepared you will be.
CareerOne would also advise candidates to spend some time researching the company they will be interviewing with. Visit their website at the very least, scan the business pages of the newspaper for stories about them – or better yet, visit a reference library and search the newspaper archives. Candidates might also be able to pick up brochures or an annual report from the company’s office.

Prepare a short piece about yourself. Even if you are never asked to speak about yourself, doing this exercise will help you focus on what skills and attributes you possess and how these will relate to the job or jobs on offer.
Rehearse with a family member or friend. Use your short piece about yourself and do some role-playing using the angry customer and problem-solving staff member as characters. It doesn’t matter that the scenarios will differ when you do the real thing on the day. Rehearsal gets you thinking and helps you practice skills that will make you stand out such as speaking clearly, maintaining good eye contact and remaining calm no matter how angry a customer gets.
Ms Whyatt advises candidates to practice a firm handshake, good eye contact, listening skills and speaking clearly and loudly enough for a group to hear.

She says to also give some thought to body language and what slouching, standing with arms firmly crossed, fidgeting or playing with hands or hair might convey to the recruiters.
CareerOne advises candidates to consider a websearch by an search engine like Google. Place phrases like “dealing with customers” or “group interviews” in the search box and get the low down from experts all over the world. CareerOne did this and found plenty of expert advice on both subjects.

For example, when role-playing with an “angry customer”, never mirror or copy that person’s behaviour. Stay calm, be sympathetic and take ownership of the problem even if you eventually have to say something like: “I want to consult my supervisor to get their input on the best way to assist you …”

April 6, 2004

Group interviews – part 2 (Contd)

It’s important you make a contribution to the group. Even if another member of the group is the first to provide an answer to a question, if you agree with that answer, then express your support. However, be genuine as you might be asked to explain why you agree with a particular answer.What to wear
A couple of candidates contacting CareerOne about group interviews have described the outfit they have chosen for the day as casual – sometimes really casual such as tank tops, cargo pants and jeans. All the research CareerOne carried out on this topic screamed a huge “NO” to casual attire.
Jacqui Whyatt advises corporate dress, which means a suit or at least pants and jacket or skirt and jacket and she counsels women to try and avoid open toed shoes.The other rules about interview dressing also apply. For women, minimal make up, hair off the face either worn out or tied back, minimal jewellery and nothing that jingles, clean nails with no chipped polish, clean, ironed clothes and no overpowering perfume.
For guys, clean nails, hair and well-ironed clothes, polished shoes, no overpowering aftershave and good personal hygiene.Last word
Ms Whyatt says the group interview is an opportunity for candidates to market themselves.
“Market yourself like you were a product. Pay attention to your personal presentation, know your strengths and make sure you have spent some time researching the company,” she says.
Jacqui Whyatt was interviewed by the editor of, Kate Southam.

Story by Kate Southam, editor of CareerOne. Go to for more career related articles. Send job hunting and workplace questions to

April 6, 2004