Tips for Group Interviews for Jobs in Mental Health

Don’t be surprised if your search for jobs in mental health lands you in one of the now-popular group job interviews at some point.  Once unheard of, these are now becoming more common-place as another hurdle that you have to jump in the application process due to the volume of applicants for each open position.  While mental health jobs are in demand compared to some other industries, don’t think that you are safe from one of these exercises, particularly if you live in a large metropolitan area where there will be a larger pool of applicants for each job.   These can be a bit nerve-wracking because, in essence, you are sitting right next to your competition.  Here are some tips to help you survive the group job interview:

Group Job Interview Survival Tips

  • Understand the purpose.  First and foremost, understand why you are being thrown into a group setting.  It is generally not to see jobs in mental healthwho can “one up” the other candidates or answer a question the best.  Many times it is to see how well you react to the situation, how you deal with pressure, how well you work with others and are able to solve problems and answer questions with an audience.
  • Stay calm.  If this is a surprise to you, don’t let it show.  Don’t size up the competition or try to stare them down.  Don’t ignore the other candidates either.  The best strategy is to introduce yourself to the other candidates, if you have time, and ask questions of them.  Even if the interviewers are not in the room yet, don’t assume that you are not being observed.
  • Be inclusive.  When you do answer questions that are put to you, include the other candidates if you are able.  You may be asked to perform a task or project as a group and you can take this opportunity to engage the others and involve everyone, without being overbearing.  Praise others ideas and answers, and take the opportunity to build on what others say if you have something valuable to add.
  • Listen.  This is so hard to do when you are constantly trying to formulate your next masterpiece response, but you are wasting your time if you are not listening to what others, including the interviewers, are saying and staying engaged.  Those who only listen to the sound of their own voice learn nothing, and that includes names and important details that you will need to stay engaged in this fast-moving interview/conversation.  Resist the temptation to overthink things and pay attention.

A Few Group Interview Don’ts

A few things that you should avoid in a group job interview:

  • Interrupt – Seriously, don’t do this.  Interrupting people and talking louder to get your point across is not a sign of good teamwork. It’s obnoxious and won’t win you any points.
  • Get Pushed Aside – Wait, didn’t we just say not to be pushy?  Well, yes but if someone else is being “pushy”, you’re going to need to stand up for your rights here and the interviewers will be able to see that this is what you are doing if done properly and with respect.
  • Be too informal – This is still a job interview even though it may turn into a group conversation at times and become a bit more relaxed.  Don’t think for a minute that your every move is still not being scrutinized.  That being said, no swearing, calling the interviewer “buddy” or referring to what you did last Friday night if you wouldn’t tell your mother.

As always, with any interview, be sure to follow up with thank you notes within 24 hours of an interview.  It’s always a nice touch to list some key points covered in the discussion and provide reminders and evidence as to why you would be a great fit for their position.  Jobs in mental health are plentiful these days but that does not preclude the group interview so be prepared with our tips.

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