My first group interview in a nutshell

In my life I’ve had a fair amount of side jobs, every application was the same. I’d hand in my resumé, I’d be invited for an interview, we would talk through the details, and eventually I would hear if I was hired or not. Never did I have any experience with other settings of interviews.

Until one day I was placed in a group interview setting. That made me quite nervous: instead of speaking one on one with a recruiter, I’d be competing with multiple applicants.

Prepping for the day
My biggest surprise was when I was told we would be having an interview with multiple people at once. I immediately started preparing for the day, found out what they do, wrote a pitch for myself and tried to find a good motivation for why they should pick me. One of my concerns was what would the benefit of a group interview be as opposed to an individual talk. I never even heard of an interview being done in such a way before. The only reason I could think of was that it would save time, and therefore money. Little did I know, it also served a whole different purpose.

My experience
On the day itself I was asked to come to the location of the interview. I wasn’t asked to bring anything, but only show up on time. I always try to be really early at a job interview in case anything goes wrong and I’m delayed. Within 10 minutes of being in the waiting room, four other applicants came in. First hint: we would be five in the game. After being taken to a room, we were seated next to each other and opposed from us the interviewers. Our task was to solve a series of cases, to see how we would respond to different situations presented. After each case we were asked to present our answer and motivate why we would choose such an approach. In my eyes my fellow applicants were highly competent and had answers of which I would never think of. Consequently, I gradually got a little less confident. 
At the end we were asked to solve a group case. While doing this, some of the applicants took a dominant role and took charge and therefore were the ones having the most input.

Why me?
After I left the interview I wasn’t so sure I would get the job, the other applicants impressed me. The assignments went well, but in my eyes I was definitely not the most competent applicant. I went home and I let it rest for a while. A few weeks later I got a call from an unknown number. Latest news: I was offered the job! I was thrilled. Nonetheless, I couldn’t help but keep on asking myself: “Why me?”.

So what is wisdom?
Much later in the job I learned that the interviewers didn’t solely look at how well we did in the assignments, or who was the fastest or the sharpest. They didn’t even look at who was the best at presenting themselves. Of course, all of it was relevant, but what actually mattered in the end was who would be the best fit in personality and the best team player. If you ask me for some final piece of advice in a group interview, from my own experience I would say do not dominate the whole interview, let other people have their say, and show that you are a good team player that fits in with their mission and vision.

This blog was written by Jesse Kuindersma.
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