An interview with the board of directors is standard for the CEO, CFO, and nonprofit Executive Director hiring processes, but the group interview approach is becoming more common for many other positions. If you have a group interview in your future, it probably means that you are one of the top candidates for the job, but there are challenges that are specific to these sessions that can make them a tough hurdle to cross.
For one thing, group interviews are far less predictable than their individual counterparts. If you’re interviewing with one person, it’s relatively easy to develop a sense of comfort about what to expect from her; once you have many people in front of you it gets harder to know where they are all coming from and predict what they might ask. Furthermore, more people means that the session will feel more like an inquisition and less like an informal conversation. The dynamic between the interviewers can also present a challenge. There may be factions or disagreements among the interviewers that may play out in front of you. You should be prepared in case your interviewers compete for air time, interrupt each other–and you. Succeeding in this kind of dynamic setting requires preparation and some specific tactics during the session.
Do your own due diligence on the interviewers. If you’ve been working through a search firm, they will prepare you for the meeting, as will anyone who suggested you apply for the position. But do your own research as well: you will come up with actual personal information that you can use to help you break the ice or create affinity with individual interviewers. I’m the mother of twins, and you’d be surprised at the number of times I’ve used that fact to build rapport. If you have been referred to the role by someone in the group, find out from them what they dynamics of the group are: if there are different factions, and if so who is on each and what particularly volatile subjects might be.
Prepare a summary based on benefits. In individual interviews, you typically pick a specific interest area or two on which to focus for each interviewer. In a group interview, you need to round up all your important points and present them everyone at the same time. The best way to do this is to summarize the benefits you bring to the table. Make a list of the requirements that were expressed in the job description as well as any previous interviews you’ve had. Match those needs with your experience and attributes. Those are the benefits of hiring you. (Remember the sales training workshop you went to once that taught you to sell benefits, not features? Don’t just give them a quick history of your work life; those are your features.)
Once you are in the room:
Greet them individually. Don’t just sit right down in your chair and wait to be grilled. Walk around and introduce yourself to everyone individually and shake their hands. This helps to break up the inquisition dynamic. If your interviewers don’t have name cards, write down their names in the order in which they are sitting, so you can use their names when addressing them.
Build bridges. If you were referred for the position by a group member who represents a particular faction, don’t sit next to the person who referred you; instead, sit next to a leader of the opposition. Proximity always defuses conflict. Pay a lot of attention to her throughout the interview. It may be important to have a relationship with this person if you get the job. Start now.
Be friendly, but don’t be a wimp. The temptation in meetings like this one is to duck all controversy and make everyone happy at all times with your answers. This is more challenging the more people there are in the room, and moreover, it’s just not the right approach. Remember they are looking for a leader, so don’t hesitate to push back in your replies. You can always soften the pushback with a question, for example, “What do your clients say about your current marketing approach?” instead of, “It doesn’t look as if your current marketing approach is working.”
Manage the meeting. Think of yourself as the facilitator of the group. If one person can’t stop talking, it’s up to you to turn her off politely. If there is an interviewer who hasn’t had much to say, make a point of letting him into the conversation. Go around the room, if necessary, to make sure everyone has had a chance to be heard. They are likely looking for someone who will listen to everyone carefully and provide the structure for them all to move forward together, and this is your chance to show them you can do it.
Indeed, remember that you are evaluating whether you can be successful in this position if it is offered to you. The dynamic of this interview will continue to play itself out when you have the position and as such is an important indicator of whether you can get the organization aligned and moving in the same direction. On your way home, instead of focusing on how you did, think about how the group did and whether you feel that you can work well with them—that’s the key to your success.
Source of this article;