How to stand out in a group interview (with definition)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 4 November 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Group interviews allow an organisation to simultaneously consider and compare multiple candidates for a job. In a group interview setting, one of your primary goals is to stand out from the other candidates. If you're preparing for a group interview that has multiple other candidates, then knowing how to stand out can improve your chances of getting the job you want. In this article, we explain what group interviews are and discuss how to stand out in a group interview.

What are group interviews?

There are broadly two types of group interviews. One is where there are multiple candidates and the other has a panel of interviewers. This article focuses on how to stand out in a group interview that has multiple candidates. In some cases, a combination of the two might exist, whereby multiple interviewers assess a group of candidates at the same time. Organisations may choose to use a group format because it allows for easier comparison of multiple candidates. This could indicate that you're part of a group of candidates who appeared to be very qualified for the role.

Another reason might be to save time if the organisation has a large number of candidates that it wants to interview. The interviewer or panel might direct specific questions to particular individuals or allow candidates to respond at will to open questions. They may employ a combination of these approaches to see who's capable of thinking and responding quickly, while also giving everyone a fair chance of answering a question. These interviews might be in-person or online using video conferencing software.

Related: Common types of interview formats and styles (with tips)

How to stand out in a group interview

Knowing how to stand out in a group interview can increase the chances that you're going to pass and subsequently get the job you want. This can often include a follow-up interview that's just you and the interviewer or panel. Here are some steps and best practises to consider for standing out:

1. Research the interviewer

Even before the interview itself, you can start to plan how to stand out. A good way of doing this is to conduct some research on the interviewer or panel in question. You're often going to get information about who they're going to be in advance. If you don't, consider sending an email to enquire. Check the organisation's website to learn who these people are, what their responsibilities are and if there are any projects they recently completed.

Many interviewees may omit this step, allowing you to stand out throughout the interview by referring to the information you have about the interviewer or panel. For instance, an interviewer might ask you about a task you completed in a previous job. If there's some similarity to a recent project of the interviewer, you could make the comparison to demonstrate your diligence in researching them.

Related: 7 example group interview questions (plus sample answers)

2. Be punctual

A good way to immediately make a good impression is to be punctual to the interview. This applies to both in-person and online interview settings. Try to aim to be the first one there, or at the very least avoid being the last. Avoid becoming the individual who holds up the interview because they're late. In some cases, arriving early might mean you get a chance to chat briefly with the interviewers while you wait for everyone to arrive, offering you an early opportunity to make a good first impression.

Related: What is time management? (Importance and how to improve it)

3. Go first

In many cases, the interviewer may ask if someone would like to volunteer to go first. This could be to introduce yourself or to answer a question. Wherever possible, it's a good idea to volunteer to go first. Many interviewers might even ask this question specifically to see who volunteers, as this can reflect positively on that individual. Going first demonstrates confidence and initiative, which is a very appealing attribute in a potential employee. Even if someone else volunteers and goes before you, the interviewer is going to notice that you volunteered too.

Related: How to answer interview questions on initiative (6 examples)

4. Consider your body language

Even when you're not speaking, you can stand out from other candidates by having the right body language. Your body language can communicate to interviewers that you're confident, comfortable and attentive. Sitting up straight is helpful, though avoid appearing too rigid as this can make you appear nervous. Avoid crossing your arms and smile when appropriate. Make moderate use of hand gestures when you speak and make eye contact when you address someone.

In the case of a panel of interviewers, think of them as an audience and look at all of them in turn as you speak. If the interview is online, look directly into the webcam as a substitute for eye contact. Maintain good posture to display confidence instead of learning in towards the camera.

Related: Body language in an interview: importance and tips

5. Be polite

The other candidates in the interview are competitors for the same position, but avoid treating them as such. Competitiveness can be an appealing trait, but how you demonstrate it matters. There are broadly two types of competitiveness. One involves undermining others to stand out, while the other involves promoting yourself to achieve the same. The latter is always preferable to the former as it shows confidence, strong ethics and leadership.

Be polite to the other candidates and even friendly if possible. Avoid interrupting them if you can and be attentive when they speak. Use the same positive body language like smiling and eye contact when you interact with them. Try to remember their names and refer to them if one of your answers is similar to theirs.

Related: What is professional behaviour at work? (With examples)

6. Demonstrate leadership

Certain types of group interviews may offer opportunities to demonstrate your leadership skills. For example, some of these interviews might require you to complete some sort of group task. In this case, try to be a positive influence on the group and guide them to the successful completion of the task. This involves including and listening to everyone. For instance, if there are quieter members of the group, try to actively include them. If there are group members who are more assertive or domineering, adopt a firm yet diplomatic approach.

Related: Psychology of leadership: 12 tips for improving as a leader

7. Prepare questions

Like any interview, you're likely to get the opportunity to ask the interviewer or panel some questions of your own. Interviewers typically like to see this because it indicates that you're genuinely interested in the job and organisation, especially if you can ask an incisive question. Additionally, other candidates might not have prepared questions for the interviewer, and by asking your own you're more likely to stand out from the others.

Related: Unique interview questions to ask an employer (with tips)

8. Avoid blending in

Although avoiding blending in is your main goal for standing out, there are some factors to consider. Make a conscious effort to avoid sounding or presenting yourself like the other candidates while also being yourself. For example, another candidate might answer a question before you do and they give the answer you were considering. Even though it was your initial answer, try to think of a different way of presenting your answer while you wait for your turn. Incorporating some knowledge you have of the hiring organisation can be useful for this.

Another example is the general mood or attitude of the group. You may find yourself in a group of highly competitive individuals, each of whom is trying to assert themselves as the leader and thereby stand out. Instead of exhibiting the same behaviour in a situation like this, attempt to become the diplomat of the group. Finding ways of calming the competitive atmosphere while remaining firm yourself can make you stand out positively in such a scenario.

Related:

  • What Is an Interview Panel?


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