Oh the dreaded group interview!

Even more deodorant worthy than a traditional face to face meeting – these interviews have a tendency to strike fear into the hearts of even the most seasoned professional. But fear not! It is easy to overcome this challenge of all challenges.

Read on below to learn some specific techniques for harnessing those nerves.

Shake Hands

If you’re lucky, you know ahead of time that you will be meeting with a panel or group. Sometimes, however, companies can throw a curveball, and you won’t know you’re interviewing with a group until you step foot in the room and see six sets of eyes peering at you intently from around a large conference table.

If that happens to you, don’t worry. Take a deep breath, and know that a great way to gain some footing and establish yourself with confidence is to take a moment to truly greet each member of the group with a handshake and solid eye contact.

Do this immediately and the results are twofold – not only will you be establishing yourself as a professional not easily thrown by interview curveballs, you will also be exuding the kind of confidence and grace seasoned professionals do.

Remember the phrase, “Fake it ‘til you make it?” This counts. Just the act of pretending you “own” the room will infuse in you a sense of calm. The handshake also allows you to connect with each person individually. If you’re lucky they will say their name as they shake your hand – do what you can to remember these names so you can thank them later!

Make Eye Contact

It can be unnerving to feel as though you are in the spotlight. You are most likely sitting at a table in a position that may be uncomfortable (either at the head of a long rectangular table with three people on either side) or at a large round table, where it may be hard to see each person clearly.

Your challenge will be to include every person there with each question you answer. Just because one person asks the question doesn’t mean you should only interact with him/her.

Eye contact is key in this situation, but keep in mind it should be natural. Spend 3-5 seconds on each person, and don’t bob your head around wildly, but follow the flow of the conversation as best you can. The goal is for each person there to feel included in the conversation.

Be Yourself

Often times group interviews can feel like a firing squad. There is usually one person in the group more serious or formal than others, and most likely this person is present in the interview to challenge you. There may be a little bit of, “Let’s see how this person reacts under pressure….”

Of course if the entire interview feels that way, you may want to consider if the environment is the right cultural fit for you! The best thing that you can do in a group interview is to truly be yourself. Each person talking to you has been in your shoes before, and although the environment is set up to feel challenging, its purpose is simply to gather several people together to see if you are a fit for the job.

Being yourself ensures that they are evaluating “the real you” and not some overly stiff, formal version of yourself.

Acing a group interview doesn’t have to be hard. Walking into the experience with confidence, making eye contact and being your genuine self will ensure the situation feels seamlessly smooth!

Updated: 05/04/2017
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Erika is a career development professional with over 15 years of experience in both corporate and higher education settings. Her current role is Assistant Director of Career Education at a private university in Chicago, Illinois. She also works with individuals on strengths discovery, interviewing skills and networking. She can be reached at careerplayground (at) gmail.com

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