Increasingly, those hiring are conducting group interviews. Not only is that efficient for them. After all, they can present the facts about the job or assignment only once. In addition, they can compare the applicants in the same context, in real time.
Group interviews are not new. Several years ago, a colleague who packed in journalism after two decades had to go through one as part of her application to nursing school. She was placed in a group of four. The school only accepted one out of four applicants.
From the get-go, she understood that job-number-one was to smoothly demonstrate that she was a better fit than the other three for the cognitive, emotional and social challenges of completing nursing school and serving in the nursing profession. She won a seat in the school.
She understood how to comport herself because, in college, she had studied game theory. Yes, that's the erudite discipline John Nash made famous. A basic of game theory is that you never approach a competitive arena in isolation. You don't plan and implement your moves in a self-referential manner.
Instead you observe or figure out what the competition is doing or might do. Only then do you unleash your strategy and tactics.
For example, a client participated in a group interview for the communications account of an assisted living facility. Beforehand he had scripted in his head how to best the competition on their approaches and outcomes. He researched their shops. In addition, given the setting, he understood that he had to demonstrate compassion for those requiring assistance. Therefore, he would soften his usually strident tone. Also, he had begun doing pro bono assignments for a family with a disabled child.
During the performance art of the group interview he would respond to what the competition said respectfully. But he would make it his business to position and package his own answer with more specifics. If X indicated it had done assignments for four assisted living facilities, the client expanded that to go beyond that context to other kinds of medical centers and rehabs.
Yes, he won the account.
Takeaway: To succeed in a group interview for work, research the organization, figure out what the competition's strategy and tactics might be, play a better game in real time and be respectful.
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