Interviewing

5 Group Interview Activities (With Question Ideas and Examples)

January 3, 2020

Group interviews are an efficient way for employers to evaluate multiple candidates for the same position. While this interviewing technique saves time for the employer, it also brings new and different challenges for applicants. Succeeding in a group interview typically involves having the right skills and knowing what to expect. In this article, we will explain what to expect from a group interview and provide examples of activities you can expect. 

What is a group interview?

A group interview is a recruiting technique that involves evaluating multiple candidates at the same time for the same position or for similar ones. It is a practice that many organizations use, with the main advantage being that it saves time compared to traditional individual interviews. This is especially valuable for start-up companies or for established businesses opening a new division or department, as it allows them to fill many positions all at once.

There are also other common uses for group interviews. They’re also used when selecting the right people for jobs that have high stress levels and a fast-paced environment, positions that require a lot of teamwork and roles that involve constant customer interaction. Hiring managers can see how candidates interact with one another in a group interview and how they could fit into their work culture.

Read more: How to Succeed at a Group Interview

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Examples of group interview activities

Because group interviews typically require more structure and planning beforehand, they tend to be more rigid than one-on-one interviews. Here are the most common activities that occur during a group interview:

  • General interview questions
  • Case studies
  • Practical tasks
  • Role-playing exercises
  • Group presentations

General interview questions

A common way of conducting a group interview is for the interviewer to ask each candidate individual questions. This can cause the group interview being a series of many brief individual interviews. Given this possibility, you should be prepared to answer common interview questions, as other candidates may add to the challenge of formulating unique answers.

Examples:

  • Why do you want this position?
  • What makes you interested in our company?
  • Tell us about yourself.
  • What makes you stand out?
  • What motivates you? 
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What are your long-term plans?
  • Why should we hire you?

Case studies

Another common activity that takes place during group interviews is all applicants taking part in a case study. The hiring managers outline a scenario involving a situation is likely to occur for an employee working in the position you are applying for.

You may receive a document that contains all the relevant information you need, such as the whole context in which the situation takes place and the problems you need to solve along with the other applicants. The main purpose of the case study is to observe how applicants work together as a team toward a common goal.

The main element in succeeding at this test is to treat the other applicants as teammates, although technically they are your competitors. You also need to find the balance between standing out and developing a collaborative approach. Solving the actual issue may be easier if you research the company before the interview, as you’ll be more familiar with likely scenarios. However, always remember that the goal is not only showing your problem-solving skills but also proving your teamwork and leadership skills.

Example: The sales division of the company has been constantly underperforming in the past three years. Our research suggests that the quality of the sold products is not the reason. Identify three reasons for the decline in sales. Work as a team to develop a strategy for the restructuring of the entire sales division.

Practical tasks

Group interviews commonly involve the participants receiving a practical task that requires them working together to solve a particular issue. The task itself may not relate to the actual job but is instead more oriented toward testing the applicants’ logic and teamwork. Just like the case study activity, solving the task is not the only relevant factor, as the interviewers also focus on the steps you took to get there and how well you collaborated with other applicants.

The best way to approach this task is by taking the time to properly evaluate all available information before taking any action. After you do that, you can share your ideas with your teammates and also learn from their perspective. The task is likely designed in a way that additional problems may arise during the process, so being prepared for this situation can help you successfully overcome it.

Example: The interviewer gives you __a certain number of toy building blocks and the task is to figure out how to build the tallest possible structure by using all the pieces available. During the exercise, you discover that some building blocks are harder to work with than others. Interviewers evaluate you for the way you assessed the situation, how you communicated with your teammates in search of a solution and how you reacted to setbacks along the way.

Role-playing exercises

Role-playing exercises are among the most popular group interview activities and some most challenging ones for many candidates. Group interviews are the ideal setting for role-playing exercises, as they involve more than one candidate and evaluate important skills, such as communication, leadership, customer service, problem-solving, critical thinking and skills specific to the job you are applying for.

The role-playing exercise typically consists of placing candidates in a set scenario that resembles a typical workplace situation for the open role. This can involve managing a team as they attempt to work with a certain issue or face an unsatisfied customer and resolving their complaints.

Successfully completing a role-playing exercise in a group interview typically requires the ability to concentrate and calmly evaluate the situation. Interviewers also use group interviewers to assess demeanor and confidence.

Example: You and a few other applicants are the customer support staff of a retail company. An interviewer plays the role of a customer unsatisfied with a product they bought from the store that did not meet their needs. You will need to assess the whole situation, discuss potential ways of handling it with your teammates and satisfy the unhappy customer.

Group presentations

Presentation exercises can occur in both individual and group interviews. They are common in interviews for roles that imply constant customer interaction, like sales, consulting or finance. The candidates receive a specific context and work together to create a presentation for a fictional customer. They typically have a set time to process the information and create the presentation.

This group interview activity is similar to a case study activity and involves similar skills, such as teamwork, problem-solving and leadership. It also involves communication skills, public speaking ability and confidence to remain calm and persuasive while presenting.

Example: You are applying for a financial consultant position and the group presentation exercise involves working with other applicants to create and hold a presentation for a potential customer. You receive all the required information on the company, the financial market and the particular situation of that customer.

Group interview tips

If you’re preparing for a group interview, you can follow these tips to feel more confident:

  • Research the company and interviewers. Before the interview, it’s helpful to review the company website and see if you can gather any relevant information. If you know the names of the interviewers, look for a bio on the company website or search for their professional networking profiles. Learning as much as you can about the business and hiring managers can help you prepare for different scenarios and connect with the interviewers. 

  • Greet everyone. While waiting for the interview to start, either in the reception area or interview room, try to greet each candidate. Introducing yourself to other applicants and shaking hands can show your professionalism. Engaging in small conversations can help you learn more about each candidate, giving you the ability to collaborate more easily during group interview activities. 

  • Listen to all responses. Active listening is an important skill for many roles. Listening to all responses during an interview, even if you’re not involved, can help you form your own answers. When an interviewer asks you a question, you can refer back to another applicant’s response to show you’re listening carefully. 

  • Be **respectful. **Many group interviews involve questions open to all candidates. When an interviewer asks several open questions, you can show respect by letting others respond first. Allow other applicants to finish their answers before you offer a response. Make sure your responses are confident and friendly.