I have a group interview upcoming for an apprenticeship for Software Development. I have no experience in coding but hope to get a foot in the IT industry with the apprenticeship by learning and skills and knowledge as Software Development is an area I would love to work in.

Does anybody have tips or skills that can help me secure a position in the company for the group interview?

Thank you,

Kind regards.

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    Is the group interview with multiple candidates or more like a panel with multiple interviewers? A group interview with multiple candidates is about standing out in the right way and proving you can be a leader and a team player. A panel interview isn't that different from interviewing with just one person. – jcmack Jan 3 '19 at 1:28
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    What country is this in? – mag Jan 3 '19 at 7:12
  • It is difficult to see how one could "instantly" learn programming; it would be like "instantly" learning to play guitar having never played. I'd suggest, doing some of the well-known online "prepare for programming interviews" tests. Just choose the easiest ones, spend every waking minute doing them until the day. Then, follow every piece of advice in the outstanding answer by @Houbie below. – Fattie Jan 3 '19 at 12:03

Some things which I find valuable when going on an interview.

Sleep enough. If you are well rested and ready for the interview, this can make a real difference.

Arrive on time. You want to avoid arriving late, or having to hurry to arrive on time. If you're there some time in advance, this will help you to stay calm and think clearly.

Prepare yourself. Although it might be overkill to know everything about the company, it might be useful to check the site and try to inform yourself about the company. Also try to get a clear idea of what they might expect you to do in your apprenticeship.

Try to clear your head. Most questions during an interview will test you in some way. Having a focused mind can make the difference.

Stay calm. No need to stress, even though this might be your first interview. The people on the other side of the table know you will be a little stressed, and this can be overwhelming. Just try to be yourself, try to be honest and don't hurry. Take your time to answer the questions in a structured way.

Don't feel offended or threatened by questions. If you don't know something, or don't know what they are looking for, just ask them. If you don't know the answer, consider being honest and open about this. Everybody needs to keep on learning, it is not wrong to admit this.

Dare to be ambitious. People are not looking for someone who will just follow, but also for people with their own ideas and who dare to take initiative. If an opportunity arises during the interview to show this, dare to take it.

Don't see it as a competition with others, but make sure that they have noticed your strong points. You will have to work on a team, so trying to have yourself noticed at the cost of others is not a great idea.

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For group interviews, there are definitely a different set of considerations you need to be aware of. While regular interview tips are still valid (come prepared, be calm, be interested, show your best self), there are additional things to consider.

Know which soft-skills the role is looking for.

Different roles will be looking for different skills, both in technical ability and soft-skills such as teamwork and leadership.

For some managerial positions, the group stage may be looking for people who can take on all points of view (organically) and help keep the peace - helping to (directly or indirectly) lead the team to success.

Being aware of what they are after, will allow you to tailor how you respond to your team members - and come across as highly employable.

For your apprenticeship, it may be likely that they are looking for somebody who is open to learning, is excited about solving problems and who enjoys collaborating. In this case, feeling comfortable to ask questions, building friendly rapport with your team and avoiding coming across as domineering (a.k.a. a one-man-band) will likely do a lot to help you.

Consider how you will conduct yourself with incompetent candidates.

It's likely at least one person you interact with during the group interview, will be a clear bad-fit.

However, you need to be mindful that it is not your place to show anybody up or put them in a bad light. Just as you would act in the job itself when dealing with such a person (as realistically happens); you need to remain calm, understanding and allow them to have their say.

Showing your ability to keep the peace, while still suggesting improvements if you know of them, is key. Allowing everybody to have their say, even at the loss of (complete) success, often comes off well in a group interview. Being overly stubborn can be a real red-flag.

Consider how you will conduct yourself with better qualified candidates.

Similarly, when in a team with candidates who know more than you on a specific subject - don't try to minimise their knowledge or put them down.

Accept that this is normal (and will be on the job too), and ask questions to better understand their suggestions; learning from them.

Of course, this doesn't mean to take everything they say and lethargically let them do everything. But don't try to saboutage them to look better (you won't).

Realise that group interviews are not a direct competition.

Finally, it's worth always remembering that the interview is not a competition with the people directly on your team.

In general, there will be multiple group rounds held separately, and often multiple teams formed in each session. As such, you are not being pitted against those you work with directly - but instead, the candidate pool as a whole.

Doing what you can to show your ability to work well with others, and help each other succeed as a team - will be noticed by the interviewers (positively), while saboutaging others or trying to hog the spotlight will simply paint you as the troublemaker of your team.

(Importantly, you should remember that there's no rule saying your entire team can't be taken forward to the next interview stage - group interviews are not based on the hunger games)

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