I’ll never forget my first group interview. I was shocked when I was led into a room and there sat five people – two “bosses” and three support staff.
As if a one-on-one interview isn’t intimidating enough. Group interviews are a positively worse – if you aren’t sure how to handle them.
As an interviewer I like them because you can see how the prospect will react to different people and questions. As an interviewee they are intimidating but there are some really simple techniques you can use come out the winner on them.
This week we’re going to share five ways to do just that.
1. Irrigation Technique
Think of your eyes/head as a gear-driven sprinkler that is hitting an open field in front of you. You want to make sure you are watering each area systematically. Begin by focusing on the person asking the question then, sequentially, acknowledge (with eye contact) everyone in your response and then go back in reverse order and rest on the person who asked the question. Sometimes if it’s a lengthier response you can go through a couple times, but just make sure everyone can see you are making contact with them as you go through. Be sure to pace each run through differently – pause for different lengths of time as you are moving through the group so you don’t look robotic (practice it).
2. Positive Affirmation
If someone asks an interesting or good question, say it. Before you begin a response say something like “Good question” or “Interesting question” or “I’m glad you asked that” then answer it. Those little statements are a huge way to score points because you are acknowledging it in front of that person’s peers. Everyone likes praise. But everyone LOVES praise in front of peers.
3. Win-Over the Group Leader
Every group interview has a person that is the spokesperson, or dominant personality. Honestly, that’s the main person you want to win over the most. The good thing is you can often tell who that person is in under a minute, so you can key in and make sure you are connecting with them. Give them a little extra eye contact/attention. This will flatter them (subconsciously) that you are viewing them as the “leader” and they be more likely to favor you.
After interviews, groups talk about candidates. They talk about what they liked (or maybe didn’t like) or how that person might work well (or not work as well). Lots of people are simply content to defer to the group leader on this discussion and often times it is that person’s opinion that carries the most weight.
I’ve been in group interview situations (as an interviewer) where I was not the dominant person, and was swayed by who that person connected the most with. I expressed my opinion about who we should hire, but in the end, the dominant one was more convincing to the rest of the group and their choice got the job.
4. Turn the Interview into a Discussion
One of the cool ways you can move a group interview in your favor is to gently guide it into a discussion, as opposed to a simple Q & A. At certain points (maybe 2-3 times during the interview), respond to their question with a question of your own.
For example, someone asks a question about servicing difficult patients. You give a great response with a specific example and then you ask, “How does YOUR office handle them?” or “Have you ever had an experience like mine?” This should draw them out into a discussion about the question and this will give you a chance to build common ground with them.
Sometimes group members are seeking a certain answer or response to a question and it’s not always apparent what they want to hear. A back-and-forth discussion allows for both sides to merge together on a single view point become better connected.
5. Memorize Names
The single most important word everyone likes to hear is their own name. Memorizing names in larger groups can present a challenge, but I’ve found that for most dental offices it’s just a small group (say two or three).
A great way to do this is to say them out-loud two or three times while meeting with them – beginning, middle, and end of the interview. The more you say a name out-loud the more likely you are to remember it. And one more tip – address the dentist by their title and last name, unless they tell you otherwise. See these examples:
Beginning: “Nice to meet your Sydnee, that’s such a pretty name” or “Karen! Oh my best friend from hygiene school is named Karen.”
Middle: “That’s a good question, Dr. Haden, because…” or “Cheryl, how does this office handle no-show patients?”
End: “Thank you, Sara – it was great to meet you.” Or “Dr. Miller, thank you for inviting me here to discuss my qualifications…”