Prepping for a group interview
By Colleen Sabatino, The Intern Coach
Group interviews can be challenging. You want everyone to think you’re great, yet each person at the interview has different standards and opinions. Here are several techniques to make you everyone’s #1 choice for the internship:
- Do your homework. Find out the names and titles of those individuals who will be at the group interview. Review the company material to learn any interesting facts about them or their departments. Use social media or Google to get more information.
- Gather a few friends around your kitchen table and ask them to question you about why you want the internship. What are your skills? How do you see your career forming? And, where do you want to be in five years? And so on…Invite them to throw difficult questions at you, so you can practice appropriate responses.
- Dress carefully for the interview, choosing neutral colors and classic styles. Keep your jewelry to a minimum and avoid scents. Be conservative in your hairstyle. Practice your body language—sit up straight with your feet flat on the floor.
- You may want to arrive carrying a folder with company materials and a pen to take notes as a sign of your serious intent. Also, holding a pen gives you something to do. And a mint before your interview ensures that you have good breath. Do arrive early and don’t complain about getting lost or transportation difficulties. Interns should help solve problems, not bring them to work.
- Walk in the door with a brisk step and smile at the group. Exude positive energy. Appear confident and don’t admit to being nervous. Show respect by waiting to be directed to your seat. Even if people are introduced to you by first and last names, such as Joe Smith, address each person by his (Mr. Smith) or her last name unless directed otherwise.
- Look at the interviewer and also make eye contact with other members of the group when you’re answering questions. Be sure to give equal attention to each person since every individual’s evaluation is important. Don’t show favoritism.
- Articulate your answers clearly. Short sentences are easier to manage than long ones and easier for the group members to absorb, too. At the end of an answer, you may ask if you’ve answered the question to his/her satisfaction to demonstrate your willingness to please. If you don’t know the answer to a question, simply say you don’t know but will find out and then follow through.
- You will probably be asked if you have any questions, and the right answer is yes (to show your high level of interest). You can ask a simple question, such as: How long has the internship program been in existence or what is the next step?
- Thank the group members collectively at the beginning and end of the interview session for the opportunity to apply for the internship. Write a thank you note to each member of the group, restating your interest. The office secretary can give you the proper spelling of their names and titles.