How to pass a group interview

I’ve just emerged from the brutal heart of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. At least it feels that way. I’ve been immersed in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s brutally compelling wilderness of ‘The Revenant’ for the last two and a half hours. And yes, ‘Leo’ gives an Oscar worthy performance (yes Leo, I’m good friends with him ok!). It made me think of all the performances he’s given over the years (I’m thinking such epic physical performances as ‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape’, to that scene in ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’) but this is surely the least amount of lines he’s ever had to learn. As the old Hollywood saying goes ‘less is more’ and when applied to group interviews this couldn’t be more apt.

“You will be taking part in a group interview”… never has a phrase struck so much fear into so many students and job hunters. But fear not there is a skill to looking like you know what you’re doing and escaping without sounding a babbling idiot!

I have experienced many of these seemingly pointless exercises and they always seem to take one of two forms regardless of whether you’re applying to look after Penguins part time or lead breakthrough research in particle physics computer modelling.

Option one:

• You and your group are stranded on an (insert stupid place).

• You have the following (insert ten ridiculous items).

• You have to get to (insert another ridiculous place).

• Chose which items to keep and explain your reasons.

The golden rule to remember in these situations is to avoid physical confrontation and name calling and basically…that’s it.

Option two:

• You and your group have to suspend (insert small item completely unrelated to the job or course you’re applying for).

• 30 cm in the air (or a different completely arbitrary height in centimetres)

• For (insert arbitrary amount of time based on what time the next pointless task has been arranged for)

• Using only (whatever crap we’ve found in the storage cupboard).

Please refer to the previously outlined golden rule for how to pass this test.

In all seriousness and referring back to my man Leo. Remember ‘less is more’.

• Try and be succinct in your contribution.

• Make sure you do contribute but more importantly make sure everyone is being heard. If necessary, make this your contribution, it won’t go unnoticed.

• You don’t need to be loud to be effective in a group task. Pick your moment and make your point. If it is ignored or over ruled, that’s not your problem.

Oh yeah, and don’t be surprised if at some point you’re asked:

“If you were a… (insert food/drink/film/celebrity/chocolate).. what would you be?”

At this point rather than getting up and running for Iñárritu’s snow covered mountains because you realise you’ve walked into a complete madhouse, just take a deep breath, smile and say (insert something funny)… or not, you’ve probably already passed. Good luck!

Photo Credit: David Davies via Compfight cc

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Tom Mason

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