Role-plays. Hypothetical scenarios. Lego? It must be a group interview…
Although the specific questions and tasks will vary depending on the employer, the general purpose of a group interview remains the same: to assess your ability to work in a team and show initiative, and find out how you are at solving problems and working under pressure.
We’ve already covered some group interview dos and don’ts, but here are a few common group interview questions that could come up, and how to handle them:
‘Find out three facts about the person sitting next to you, and share with the group’
AKA the obligatory icebreaker.
This question could come in many different forms, but will usually involve group introductions and casual chats about who you are, what you’re like, and what you’re looking for.
It’s designed to test a few things: your interpersonal skills, your ability to listen and gather information quickly, and your individuality and creativity.
To really stand out, always prepare beforehand. Think of a few fun (interview-friendly) facts about yourself guaranteed to be different to others, practice sharing a short introduction about who you are, and do your company research.
Then, you can fully concentrate on getting the best out of the person next to you – and delivering it to the group.
‘If you could invite two famous people to your dinner party, who would you choose?’
This question (also known as the ‘hot air balloon question’) may come across as a light-hearted game that you’d probably play at home with your friends and family – but there’s more to it than that.
Although your answer may at first be asked individually, it’s common for interviewers to put a limit on the number of ‘guests’ – leaving the group to decide on which celebrities make the cut.
As a result, this task will require good listening skills, the ability to negotiate, and to fight your case with convincing reasons as to why your celebrity should make it.
Think wisely about your choice beforehand, and keep it unique. You may be tempted to invite Beyoncé to your house (just because), but will she really stand a chance against a Bear Grylls (the guy who can find and catch food if disaster strikes)?
But a word of warning: there’s nothing wrong with opting for someone else’s choice. Teamwork doesn’t have to be a dirty word…
‘Sell me this X’
Although the product or service you have to sell will differ from interview to interview, the core purpose remains the same – to assess your sales skills, and encourage candidates to be resourceful, persuasive, and a good team player.
Some organisations will use their own merchandise as examples, but a more common approach is to challenge candidates by using products that are either impractical (e.g. a chocolate teapot), or don’t have any distinctive features to base your sale on (e.g. a pen).
Usually, your answer is provided as part of a group pitch, so be prepared to work as a team to assess the key features and benefits of the product.
And, as the interviewer will often question you after you present, it’s equally important to have understood the cons beforehand, and to prepare suitable comebacks to any concerns ‘the buyer’ may have about its functionality, appearance, or cost.
‘Use the fewest possible bricks to build the highest free-standing structure’
OK, so playing with Lego sounds simple enough. But there’s a catch.
These could include only using one piece of tape to hold the entire tower, giving bricks that aren’t easy to work with, or setting a short time limit to pile on the pressure.
The best candidates will work as a team to assess the situation and think of a logical method before starting the task, and remain calm and focused throughout – no matter what happens. Your ability to deal with problems (e.g. the tower collapsing), and overcome them is another thing you’ll be being assessed on.
And remember: achieving the goal isn’t the only factor to be taken into consideration. Interviewers will concentrate on the actions you took to get there, rather than the end result alone.
This section of the group interview will usually take place towards the end of a task, and will require everyone to assess how they worked together as a group to achieve the goal.
Common questions will normally include:
- What made your team work successfully?
- What stopped your team from achieving the objective?
- How did you deal with problems during the group activity?
- If you could redo the activity, what would you change?
Your answers will show the interviewer that you understand the reasons for your successes and failures, and can acknowledge how each member of the team contributed – so make sure you’re staying focused throughout each task, and can report back on how it was done (or wasn’t done).
And always recognise the contributions of others. If you’re not a team player, you’re only ever setting yourself up to fail when it comes to the big day.
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