Group task at interview

Discuss what to expect in job and course interviews, what topics might be covered, how to manage anxiety, and how to get the desired result!
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lingua_franca
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Group task at interview

Post by lingua_franca » Fri Aug 10, 2018 10:56 pm

I have an interview that will involve a group task, and my heart sank into my boots when I saw this on the letter. Whenever I've done groupwork with strangers I have found that people often talk over me just as I'm speaking, so I struggle to contribute my share. Friends have told me that I'm more softly spoken than I realise, so it's possible that others don't notice that I've already started to say something when they chime in too. Does anyone have any specific strategies for dealing with this, other than 'talk louder'?! "Excuse me, I was saying something there" sounds a bit pointed, and I wanted to avoid coming across as curt.
"Suppose a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?"
"Suppose it didn't," said Pooh, after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.
- A.A. Milne.

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alexh
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Joined: Sun Sep 23, 2012 7:57 pm

Re: Group task at interview

Post by alexh » Sat Aug 11, 2018 5:03 pm

What do you think the utility of a group task is from the selector's perspective? What are they looking for?

lingua_franca
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Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2010 11:29 pm

Re: Group task at interview

Post by lingua_franca » Sat Aug 11, 2018 6:24 pm

Ability to work well with others - not to dominate, not to be too reticent, able to draw out people who aren't speaking much and to help discussion flow in a constructive way, willing to consider alternative points of view, astute listening skills, able to stay focused on the task, etc.

I've facilitated groups as part of previous jobs and research, and I've not found that a problem. It is group tasks with strangers at interview where I seem to have an issue making myself heard, and sometimes in other contexts as well - I've just started an evening language course, and I have noticed that sometimes I will be starting to answer the teacher's question when other students will speak over me, apparently without realising.
"Suppose a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?"
"Suppose it didn't," said Pooh, after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.
- A.A. Milne.

NotReally
Posts: 38
Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2018 2:14 pm

Re: Group task at interview

Post by NotReally » Sat Aug 11, 2018 10:11 pm

I've had this EXACT same problem in a number of different contexts. Normally, i'm not too fussed, as I can chirp in later etc. Obviously, in an interview setting, you won't always have this option.

What i'd suggest is to make a bit of a physical point of the fact that you're making a point. Obviously nothing too "out there", but even just leaning forward, raising your index finger, and starting off with something like "Well, what we could do..." etc. I guess it's kind of like raising your hand at school, doesn't matter how softly or loudly spoken you are, a physical gesture like that is going to guarantee you a way into the conversation.

lingua_franca
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Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2010 11:29 pm

Re: Group task at interview

Post by lingua_franca » Sun Aug 12, 2018 2:26 am

I'm comforted to know I'm not the only one! It seems like such a weird problem to have, as it's not that I'm particularly nervous in these situations. Tonight I was at a book fair and I wanted the assistant to help me find something. He kept helping other customers even though I'd been waiting longer and I kept trying to attract his attention. I felt as though I were invisible to both him and the other customers. In the end I hurled myself into his path and went, "Excuse me, I need help!", as though the shop were on fire. :lol: I will definitely try the raised index finger trick, and perhaps leaning forward with my most meaningful expression on my face.
"Suppose a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?"
"Suppose it didn't," said Pooh, after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.
- A.A. Milne.

lingua_franca
Posts: 798
Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2010 11:29 pm

Re: Group task at interview

Post by lingua_franca » Sat Aug 25, 2018 10:30 pm

I tried the leaning slightly forward technique, and it seemed to help. The whole interview day went well, and I was made the reserve for the post. In my feedback they told me that there had been almost nothing in it between me and the successful candidate. It did sting a bit, as I enjoyed the interview day and was really excited about the job. In some ways I found the encouragement frustrating (when someone says "You were brilliant" and tells me that there was nothing I could have done differently, especially right on the heels of identical feedback at a different interview, it's hard not think, "Well, if there's nothing more I can do, how do I stop myself getting pipped to the post all the time?!") but I was grateful that they took the time to give it. They even asked what my long-term goals are and offered some encouragement about those, which was a nice touch - if they take this much trouble over unsuccessful applicants they must be a really lovely team to work with. Anyway, onward and upward!
"Suppose a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?"
"Suppose it didn't," said Pooh, after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.
- A.A. Milne.

NotReally
Posts: 38
Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2018 2:14 pm

Re: Group task at interview

Post by NotReally » Sun Aug 26, 2018 2:51 pm

I'm glad it helped.

Re: "nothing more you could have done". Perhaps this is my more cynical side coming out, but it sounds like they already had someone in mind for the position, and were merely going through the formalities of interviewing candidates? Maybe they were going to give the job to an internal candidate (and needed to top up the reserve list), or interviewed someone early on and decided on them. As i say, its maybe just a bit of cynicism on my part, but that's what it sounds like to me. The fact they took the time to give the feedback (and that you made the reserve list) suggests they were impressed, but "nothing more you could have done" coupled with not offering you the job sounds like a diplomatic way of saying "i've made my mind up".

lingua_franca
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Re: Group task at interview

Post by lingua_franca » Sun Aug 26, 2018 3:02 pm

I don't think that was the case here, as I met all the shortlisted candidates (we chatted in between the group task and our interviews) and none of them had worked for this service previously, in any capacity. They all seemed to have really interesting relevant experience too. I expect that sometimes there really isn't much to choose between the candidates on a shortlist, so I'm just going to take what the panel told me at face value and try to be happy that I got this far. I have a few applications that I'm waiting to hear back from, so I may yet get a job out of them and be saved from having to fill in even more. ;)
"Suppose a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?"
"Suppose it didn't," said Pooh, after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.
- A.A. Milne.

NotReally
Posts: 38
Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2018 2:14 pm

Re: Group task at interview

Post by NotReally » Sun Aug 26, 2018 3:22 pm

Yep, anything that involves reducing the number of applications you have to complete is definitely good!

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ell
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Re: Group task at interview

Post by ell » Sun Aug 26, 2018 5:34 pm

At some point in most of our lives there are likely to have been times when we were equivalent to another candidate, and the other person was the one getting that phone call saying there was nothing different they could have done. Difference is you don't hear about it in that instance. With so many good candidates to choose from it can be really hard to pick someone, and surely it's helpful to hear that there's nothing different you could have done cos then you know what to keep doing next time!

Even so, I know it's frustrating missing out on jobs, especially when you really wanted it. Keep going, but look after yourself when you need it.

lingua_franca
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Re: Group task at interview

Post by lingua_franca » Tue Aug 28, 2018 10:36 pm

Thanks, ell. That's a helpful way to look at it. Two other interview invitations arrived today, so with any luck I should still have something lined up before my current contract ends. :)
"Suppose a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?"
"Suppose it didn't," said Pooh, after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.
- A.A. Milne.

lingua_franca
Posts: 798
Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2010 11:29 pm

Re: Group task at interview

Post by lingua_franca » Thu Sep 06, 2018 1:26 pm

Doors close and windows open. I got one of those jobs and I was catapulted into it almost immediately. I'm now teaching three days a week at a special school for children with social, emotional, and mental health problems. It's going to be a real challenge, especially as I have responsibilities that I've never had anywhere before, but I'm glad - I was feeling a bit stifled in support work and more than ready to step up to something bigger. It also fits in perfectly with the Tavistock course I'm on, both in terms of the time commitment and the nature of the work. So much of my teaching is done 1:1 or in pairs, and the course is all about observation, so I'll be having fantastic opportunities to put all the psychoanalytic/dynamic theory I'm learning into practice!

I'm also really satisfied to have found a role that bridges the things I have enjoyed most about university-level teaching (small group work, being able to craft a bespoke curriculum based on students' interests) with my interest in trauma, attachment, and work with young people. In the past I was doing teaching/research and picking up volunteering and bits of support work on the side, just to keep my foot in the door, but now I have everything I most enjoy doing in the same place. I feel incredibly lucky right now...and so glad I didn't get the job I posted about in this thread! ;) This one has turned out to be better for me in every way.

Thanks all for your reassurance and suggestions.
"Suppose a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?"
"Suppose it didn't," said Pooh, after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.
- A.A. Milne.

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firegal
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Re: Group task at interview

Post by firegal » Tue Sep 11, 2018 1:26 pm

Yay! What lovely news lingua :mrgreen: congrats!

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