One way companies can save time during the hiring process is to conduct one or more group interviews with a candidate. In a group interview, employers place you in a room with several people at a time rather than having you meet company members individually. The tricky part to the group interview is that those “other people” can be either current company employees or other potential candidates.
Though it sounds a bit intimidating, committee interviews are becoming more and more common in the workplace, as they can save the company time. This is when a potential employee is asked to sit in a room with several senior-level employees and answer a whole slew of questions. Questions can come from anyone at any time, and each committee member will evaluate you.
Though the idea of being scrutinized by five or so people at a time can seem a bit daunting, think of it this way: You've got the power of a democracy on your side. Rather than having only one chance to charm one person, you are being given the opportunity to enchant various company members all at once.
If you are asked into a committee interview, be sure that you always address the person asking the question. If, for example, the woman on the right asks you a question, answer her directly; maintain strong eye contact, and pretend as if you were the only two in the room.
The key to succeeding in a committee interview is to remain focused. Don't let the number of people squeezed into the room frighten you. Treat each member of the committee with respect and kindness, and they will be sure to see what a great match you are for the job.
A joint interview takes the idea of a committee interview one step further. Rather than bring together a group of employees who have the ability to yea or nay your candidacy, the joint interview brings together the entire candidate pool and interviews them at one time. Though this certainly saves time for the interviewing committee, a joint interview can be a bit intimidating for a job seeker. In addition to being made fully aware that there are other candidates in the running, you are forced to socialize with them!
A joint interview consists of two or more potential candidates sitting in a room together and engaging in a discussion. The interviewer (there can be one or more) thinks about a topic and then introduces it to the candidates. He will begin a discussion and expect the candidates to join in. In addition to listening to your insights into a particular topic and gaining a bit more knowledge as to your experience, the joint interview allows the interviewer to see how well—or poorly—you are able to engage in discussion with your peers and whether you have trouble interacting with them.
Above all, a joint interview allows the interviewer to put your leadership skills to the test. The interviewer wants to see whether you have valid points and how skillfully you are able to persuade others of these convictions. Observing your behavior within this group of competitors is a great way for an interviewer to assess whether you might be a good candidate for a management position someday and whether you have the ability to act in a professional and pleasant manner—even with all this competition breathing down your neck. The best way to prepare for this type of interview is to spend as much time as you can sharpening your interpersonal skills.
Another way to conduct a group interview with an applicant is to place her in a room full of department or company coworkers. By gathering together several key members of a department or company and letting them interact with a candidate, hiring managers can observe how this person's personality and manner fits in with that of the department as a whole.
A departmental interview is not just about socializing, however. The candidate's peers will ask questions and discuss certain situations that are likely to arise to ascertain how the person would react.
“What would you do if an irate customer called you and …”—this is the type of hypothetical question you may be asked in a departmental interview. Again—fortunately—you are in the position to persuade several people, rather than just one, that you are the perfect person for the job.
Departmental interviews can benefit the candidate, also. These departmental heads can tell you, for sure, what a typical day is like. They can answer questions about how stressful the work becomes, the worst day they've ever had, and the best day they've ever had.
If you have been asked in for a departmental interview, you have probably already persuaded the personnel staff as well as the department manager of your skills and abilities. You should then try to build rapport with the other members of the department during this interview, as their say could be the final one, too.