How should I prepare for group interviews?



HaveSHRM President and CEO Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, answers questions from HR as part of a series for USA today.

Do you have an HR or professional question that you would like him to answer? Submit it here.

While looking for a job, I recently had to pass my very first group interview. It was very uncomfortable and I did not do well. Do you have any tips for participating in group interviews? -Bob

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.: Interviewing for a new role can be a nerve-racking experience for even the most seasoned professional, and group interviews add an extra level of complexity. However, if you’re well prepared, the complexity doesn’t have to lead to overwhelming anxiety. Congratulations on finding some tips to use the next time you find yourself in a similar situation.

As with any type of interview, it helps to prepare with plenty of organizational research. Compile some relevant examples from your experience, skills and education. Be prepared to point out how you overcame adversity in other positions. And practice for group interviews with others who can provide honest feedback. Preparation gives you confidence in your answers.

Demonstrate your networking skills and friendliness. Make sure to introduce yourself to group members before the interview begins, if possible. It helps build rapport with interviewers and alleviate any initial anxiety you might be feeling. Often companies use group interviews when teamwork and communication skills are the cornerstones of the job. Showing your willingness to dive in and bond can give the interviewer insight into how you will perform in the job if you are selected.

Involve the group in your answers by making connections with the answers of other participants or, when it makes sense, by agreeing with their answers. This can help you avoid simply repeating another participant’s point and will enhance your active listening skills. If you are well prepared in advance and stay engaged throughout, your group interviews will improve dramatically. Knowing yourself and your audience is the basis of a successful interview.

In recruitment, we are seeing more and more applicants inquiring about childcare benefits. Does it make sense to organize some kind of on-site childcare or help with childcare? —Reena

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.: Yes! It is a good idea to increase child care benefits for your employees. When the COVID-19 pandemic canceled in-person school and most child care services, more than a third of the U.S. workforce struggled to work from home, looking after their children and helping them with their homework. Providing child care benefits is one way to communicate your support to your employees and to help them balance all of their priorities during and even after the pandemic. Employer-provided child care benefits also help recruit and retain employees, which is no small feat when post-pandemic surveys show the Great Resignation may lead to staff turnover rates. by 30%.

There are several ways to provide child care benefits; it doesn’t have to be one size. Work with a reputable agency to provide on-site childcare services, offer back-up childcare options, subsidize childcare benefits, or simply increase flexibility to allow employees to work from home when ‘they need to take care of a sick child. Some employers even offer less traditional benefits such as tutoring services for their employees’ children at a reduced rate. Providing child care benefits not only helps your employees, it’s good business too. By providing child care benefits, your business will relieve at least some of the stress on your employees, giving them the freedom and bandwidth to focus on their jobs, which benefits everyone.

Your business could also receive financial benefits. Employers can reduce payroll taxes by depositing money, pre-tax, into an employee’s flexible spending account. And employers who provide child care subsidies can take advantage of an annual tax credit if the subsidies are used for qualifying child care facilities and services.

All in all, offering child care benefits is a smart move to attract and retain the best applicants while securing key tax benefits. I see it as a victory all around.


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