home »

dear headhunter columns »

career insider columns »

syndicated newspapers »

internet/on-line readership »

the buzz about George »

biography/references »

order advice/order book »

send email »


This type of interview can be the most intimidating. Sitting in front of two or more senior managers can feel like you are the incredible shrinking person. Companies like this type of interview when there is more than one department involved in the hiring decision. The reasons for group interviews are:

    This is a stress interview. Even if the interviewers try to calm you by saying it is just a standard interview, it is a test to see how you can handle pressure. The best thing to do is remain calm and focused by understanding you are a finalist. Many candidates have submitted resumes and did not get an interview.
    Really listen to the questions. Answer them directly. Avoid long and looping answers. Most importantly, maintain eye contact with the person who has asked the question. Avoid the feeling that you are watching a tennis match. Do not interrupt the questioner.
    Grouping the interviewers to meet with a candidate will save the company money by eliminating duplicate questions. You only have to answer, "Tell me about your strengths" one time. When the interview is at the home office and it requires the candidate to fly in or stay overnight, the cost represents a significant savings rather than multiple trips.

The interviewers can confer immediately to decide is the candidate should be hired. Like witnesses to an accident, interviewers often give different accounts of what happened. When two or more interviewers see different skills and also confirm doubts and concerns or see the same red flag, that can be enough to eliminate you.

Accept the fact that this type of interview will be more stressful. You can handle the stress by maintaining eye contact with each questioner. Answer their questions with direct answers and avoid prolonged never-ending answers. A smile coupled with eye contact will dissipate your stress level.

The next step is to follow-up a Thank You note. Your follow-up starts before the interview ends. Start the follow-up process by asking for a business card. Do not leave the interview without a business card! If no card is available, ask the interviewer to write down the number or address. Before you leave, ask for a sense of timing. "Ms. Employer, when do you expect to make a decision?" When you know the timing, no news may not be bad news. If you expect to hear quickly, you will be anxious and assume you did not do well. When you know the hiring decision will be in thirty days, it enables you to be patient and not expect prompt feedback.
It is a must to send your thank-you note no later than twenty-four hours after your interview. Any time delay before sending a thank-you diminishes its impact. If your thank you note arrives days late, it may be interpreted as low interest in the job.


Dear Headhunter,
Everything that I read about resumes, interviews, etc. continually stress the "degree." I do not have a degree; I have been working for 30 years, learning as I go. I have always been either clerical support, or accounting support, or many times both combined. I have also read and been told that you should not put more than 10 years of experience on a resume because it isn't relevant to today’s work environment.

Can you address advice to those that do not have a "degree" just valuable experience, reliability, and hands on knowledge? I am positive that I am not the only one out there in this position.

Thank you, Pat

Dear Pat,
Part one answer is thirty years of outstanding experience can override a degree but it is an uphill struggle and will always be that way. Employers seek the best talent and a degree is an indication this person has more to offer both in skills and promotability. When interviewing, be open about your education and sell reasons why you should be hired based on experience. Letters of recommendations will greatly help create that reason to hire you. Part two answer is that a resume is assumed to contain all work experience. If you leave out early jobs it will appear your are not being honest. A resume not listing all employment will most likely be trashed.

Wishing you the best. -George

PLEASE NOTE: emails received become the property of "Dear Headhunter" and may be published unless otherwise requested. Questions may be edited for content and length. All questions will be reviewed, some without a reply.

George Gurney has been a leader in the employment industry since 1976. He founded an executive search firm that conducts domestic and international assignments.  He has won numerous awards for recruiting excellence.  He has been a guest speaker at national conventions and seminars.