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Hey, HR Lady...

Question: I applied for a job and the HR Director informed me that I need to go through a “group” interview next week.  How do I prepare for this type of interview?  I only have experience with one-on-one interviews.  Is a “group” interview different from a “panel” interview?  I am very nervous, any advice?


~Shelley S.


Dear Shelley,

Yes a “group” interview and a panel interview are different.  A panel interview typically means a team is conducting the interview.  The hiring team may include any of the stakeholders such as the hiring manager, HR director, CEO, supervisor, or staff person etc.  The format usually consists of the group going around the table and asking you specific interview questions about the job you are applying for – and likely you are the only candidate in the room. 


A group interview usually implies that the organization or company is interviewing several candidates at the same time.  The group interview can be very intimidating if you aren’t prepared.  It can be very daunting when you walk into a room surround by several other candidates who are all vying for the same job.  The trick with group interviews is to stand out against the competition.  Owning the room with confidence, grace, good manners, eloquent public speaking skills will take you places and impress the interviewers.  Try to make a connection with each of the interviewers and make sure you tell a compelling story about yourself that is unique and shows that you know your stuff. 


From the minute you walk in the room, the panel of interviewers is sizing you up, from your clothes, to your grammar to your behavior and interactions.  Practice your story – your elevator speech of why you want this job and convince them with compelling dialogue of why you are the ideal person for the job.


You need to practice your story because you may only have a few minutes to deliver your response.  They might also give you a written test or a group exercise.   Make sure you follow the directions and be polite.  It is important for you to demonstrate that you can work well in a team environment but you also have to be authentic and present your background and experience so it makes sense and is in alignment for what they are seeking.


As always, direct eye contact, a firm handshake, a keen interest and good listening skills will set you apart from the competition.  Follow-up with a personal thank you note and reiterate why you are interested in the job and why you believe you are the right person.  Never underestimate the importance of good manners.  It is important to thank them for the time they took out of their busy day to meet with you.


Question: Is it a good idea to use exit interviews to assess why people are leaving the organization?


~Tom C.


Dear Tom,

While exit interviews are a good tool to assess the reasons why employees are exiting, it is often too late.  You want to get to people before they even consider leaving the organization.  Exit interviews are becoming passé, the new HR buzzword is “stay interviews.”  You want to find out why people stay, why they come to work every day and based on that feedback continue to do more of what is working.  You need to keep a frequent pulse on your employee engagement level to insure they are happy and committed.  Exit interviews do little to keep the employee from staying as they are often a day late and a dollar short of influencing someone’s decision.


Julie Leutschaft, MPA, MHA is the owner of The HUMAN Touch, LLC – Human Resources and Career Counseling firm.  Visit us online at

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