6

A company has offered the chance for an interview. There is only one position available (as it is a managerial position) and is in quite a 'tight-knit' industry (i.e mostly everyone knows each other).

One part of the interview is a group activity. In this case, the other group participants are also applying for the same position as you - and you are likely to see them during this group activity.

How can one approach this group activity without 'burning-bridges' with the other applicants?

  • never seen such a thing with a managerial position. What does the group activity consist of? – Kilisi Sep 22 '18 at 12:27
  • Exactly what I was thinking when she called me inviting me for the interview. What I am assuming from reading online is that they will give you a scenario, and you need to work together as a team to solve it. (e.g this person is stuck on the other side of the river, how can he get back to land), or something like that. But my biggest concern is meeting the other candidates who are applying for the SAME position. And there is only one position available! – Debbie Williams Sep 23 '18 at 4:57
  • Why does meeting the other candidates concern you? You know them all already, it's presumably not going to shock anyone that they apply for new roles as well. – Philip Kendall Sep 23 '18 at 14:37
  • Is it a sword fight, like a duel, last man standing? – Daniel Sep 24 '18 at 1:52
  • Not that I know of @Daniel - I heard it's a team exercise like 'How can this person cross the river'... And as a team you need to devise methods on how this person can cross the river etc. – Debbie Williams Sep 24 '18 at 4:42
23

You do everything you can to make the group activity a success because the primary function of a manager is to enable their team. If you're the person who does that, I know you're going to do the right thing when you're working in my company.

If you show any hint whatsoever that you're prepared to sacrifice the success of the group for your own personal gain, or try and take any personal credit for the actions of the group, that's one of the biggest red flags I can imagine when looking for a manager.

  • Sounds reasonable, but way open to interpretation. is this a common technique? – Kilisi Sep 22 '18 at 12:29
  • But if every applicant is good and has a team-first attitude, doesn't that defeat the purpose of the group task? – Juha Untinen Sep 23 '18 at 12:26
  • @JuhaUntinen 1) No, it lets me know my pre-interview screening and/or 2) That's result bias. Just because a test didn't distinguish candidates in this instance, it doesn't mean it's not useful. Next time, it might let me rule out someone. – Philip Kendall Sep 23 '18 at 14:30
  • 2
    @Kilisi It's what I want from a leader, and the idea of a "servant leader" certainly isn't uncommon among tech companies. See e.g. Debugging Teams by Fitzpatrick and Collins-Sussman. – Philip Kendall Sep 23 '18 at 14:33
  • 1
    @JuhaUntinen Interviews should test for the skills and character you want to employ - if every candidate is equally perfect, it means you cannot make a bad decision in who you ultimately choose. Realistically though, my experience is many people do become selfish, controlling and undermining in these group tasks; and they are a very effective way to filter out those kind of candidates. – Bilkokuya Sep 26 '18 at 14:52
10

You really don't know what the interviewer expects. What Philip says is quite reasonable, but there is no guarantee that the interviewer is reasonable, so this strategy might fail. The interviewer might look for a cutthroat, backstabbing monster and if you follow Philip's advice then you are not it.

But in that case, maybe you wouldn't want to win, right? So think about what a good employer would want, one where you would want the job. And then you do what would make a good employer happy. So maybe you help the team succeed, but someone stabs you in the back. If you get the job, you're fine. If the backstabber gets the job, you had a close escape.

  • 4
    Yes, this. If you act like a good leader and don't get hired because of that, you just dodged a bullet. – Philip Kendall Sep 23 '18 at 14:34

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.