How to stand out at a startup group interview
Group interviews can be daunting. They are incredibly useful for startups as a time efficient way to get the interview process rolling. They are also the perfect opportunity to see how a candidate interacts with other people in a professional environment. Either way, you need to impress. With other potential employees standing right beside you, it is easy for the assessor to spot which are the better candidates. It is natural to feel intimidated when walking into a room full of prospective candidates, but being able to stand out from the crowd will ensure you are memorable (for the right reasons, hopefully).
Read on for our group interview tips.
The main thing to remember is that everyone feels nervous, so being friendly and confident from the word ‘go’ will help to ease the atmosphere. Startups are very small companies and employers like to hire based on personality aswell as skillset, to make sure their new employee fits in with the rest of the team. Introduce yourself to the other candidates and make a note of names – referring to others by name later on looks a lot more impressive than a vague hand gesture and sentence like: ‘as, um, my friend on the left said earlier…’.
Get there early. Being on time is a given, but arriving significantly early will give you a chance to relax into the space and take in your surroundings. As others arrive, strike up a conversation so that you aren’t all sitting there nervously, and take in what you can about the other candidates. You may also be able to get a feel for the company from any pin boards on the walls, so have a good scope of the room.
One of the very first things you are likely to be tasked with is an introduction. As this will be your first chance to speak it needs to make an impression. Startups are looking for people who think outside of the box – not those that are comfortable in a hundred-year-old company that has never changed its formula. Aim to say something about yourself that is unique and memorable, rather than more of the same buzzwords that the other candidates have just said.
Wear something distinctive to the interview. Most candidates tend to dress in darker colours in order to appear more conservative and professional in interviews, so adding a pop of colour will make you memorable. Startups, more often than not, are fun, eclectic places to work, so instead of opting for the same navy blue trousers as the person next to you, why not inject some personality into your outfit?
Answer first sometimes. But not every time. It pays to appear keen and show that you aren’t afraid of putting your ideas out there, but don’t neglect to listen to others and be attentive to new directions of discussion. This also plays into a point about ensuring that whatever you say is meaningful and thought out – don’t panic and start saying anything that comes into your heard just to get your voice heard.
Be sure to sit up straight and give your full attention to whomever is speaking throughout the interview. It is easy to let yourself slump slightly when your turn to speak is over, as the nerves and adrenaline ease slightly, but this will give the wrong impression. It is vital that you present yourself as fully engaged throughout, as employers will be watching your reactions and interactions with others as much as with them.
Encourage others to speak. If you notice another person in the group looking lost and quiet, then give them the opportunity to say their piece. This is a good indication to your prospective employers that you understand group dynamics and professionalism above your own need to be heard.
This last point is one that is important for any interview – prepare questions to ask. Absorb as much information as you can on the day, but go in there ready with genuine, thought-provoking questions about the company. The people behind startups are passionate about their companies and are very likely to appreciate an interest in their ideas. As you leave don’t forget to say thank you to your interviewers for the opportunity, and make sure your handshake is a good one!
If you feel ready to shine in an interview (group or not), then make an account with BrighterBox and apply to some of the available jobs today!