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Let’s say you have done your part to put together an awesome resume and made it through to the interview stage. A new fad in dental interview formats could mean your hard work is not yet over. With the rise in popularity of group interviews many dental practices are adopting this format over one-on-one interviews in attempts to save time, reduce turnover, and determine which of their candidates best fit into their office culture. This means that many dental job candidates may be facing a group interview for the first time in their careers and may not know what to expect.

Below we will cover what to expect at a dental practice group interview, what employers will be looking for and how you can prepare yourself to stand apart from the pack.

What to Expect at a Group Interview

There are two types of group interviews that a potential dental office might utilize. The first and most common is the panel interview. In this format you will likely have several hiring managers who will be evaluating you via a question and answer session. You may also be asked to participate in some other type of activity that engages your interpersonal, problem solving or communication skills.

The other type of group interview, and one that is gaining popularity, is the candidate group interview. In this format you will be interviewed in a room with other job candidates simultaneously. All of your peers will be in the race for the same job and you will all be asked to participate in group exercises, discussions, or problem solving scenarios.

A recent survey conducted by found that at most dental practices the hiring process is conducted by the office manager first and foremost and then dentist. It is likely that these two people will be involved in the group interview as well as additional members of the company who are in managerial positions or who might be the employees you will be working with.

What are Employers Looking For?

Depending on the format of the group interview (they will vary from practice to practice), you will be measured by your ability to:

  • influence others during group discussions
  • communicate clearly and from a place of logic
  • display the ability to work well with others (teamwork)
  • display effective leadership skills (if the job is for a leadership position)
  • contribute to the discussions or conversations in a way that is relative to your position

In some formats candidates will have equal opportunity to speak and may not be specifically asked to present their thoughts or opinions. Although you don’t need to feel inclined to have an opinion about everything, being completely introverted may make you seem bored or unengaged. Employers will be looking for how interested the candidates are to determine who really cares about the position.

In addition to the way you present yourself in a group setting, many of the behaviors that are important during a one-on-one interview are important during a group interview. Your appearance and hygiene (especially your dental hygiene!) will be noticed, as well as the way you present yourself (i.e. clothing, earrings, makeup, cologne or perfume, facial hair, etc). Your presentation skills, and particularly your posture, body language, and eye contact, will be addressed to determine how confident you are in your abilities and to determine if your personality meshes well with the team you will be working with.

Employers are utilizing the group interview format in part to determine how well you fit in with their office culture. Office culture is the values that define a business and that reflect the way it conducts itself on a day-to-day basis. Companies know that a perfect resume alone is not justification for hiring an employee. The candidate also has to fit in well with the dental team and the attitudes, goals and values that make their office culture.

How to Prepare for the Group Interview

Some dental practices will inform you of their interviewing methods and will let you know ahead of time who you will be interviewing with and what to expect. In other situations you may not be so lucky so you should be prepared for all types of hiring formats including one-on-one’s or group interviews. Candidates who are prepared always have the best chance of nailing an interview which is why minimizing mistakes and preparing for any situation will allow you to make the best impression possible.

Consider practicing the following in either a one-on-one or group interview:

  • Make eye contact with all of your interviewers and make it a point to greet each of them individually with a firm handshake. If appropriate, do the same with the other potential hires as an extension of your professionalism.
  • During your interview, address the entire hiring staff and don’t focus too much on one individual. Engaging everyone in the room will show that you are aware of their presence.
  • Maintain good posture throughout your interview; don’t slouch or get too comfortable no matter how casual the interviewers are.
  • Bring enough copies of your resume for everyone and yourself. Just because you made it this far doesn’t mean they will have your resume memorized.
  • Although you are being compared to other candidates, be polite to them and extend them the same courtesy as you would your employer. Your employers will be looking at how you interact with the other candidates to see if display you the same professionalism with them as you would a patient.
  • Your interviewers may make it a point to place you under a stressful situation or challenge you to think outside the box. Try not to get flustered and remain calm and collected; this is just a test to see how you work under pressure.
  • Avoid displaying aggression, attention seeking, blocking others from opportunities to speak and withdrawing if the other candidates are unprofessional. You will be evaluated on your ability to harmonize with others, compromise when need be, be encouraging and be an active listener as well as speaker.

Common Mistakes in Group Interviews

Group interviews can be casual or they may be very intimidating. Regardless of the sentiments, it is important to remain composed throughout the entire situation. The environment can increase egos and bring out the worst in people who are trying to impress the interviewers. Rather than be someone you are not, be aware that talking too much without actively listening to others can be mistaken as selfishness. On the other hand, don’t let the presence of others prevent you from contributing to discussions. Always be aware of your non-verbal communication – facial expressions, eye contact, posture, etc. – and do your best not to appear too nervous.

The group interviews that you are faced with will be easier if you are prepared and if know what to expect. Your ability to remain professional throughout adversity and display clear, rational thought could land you the job of your dreams. Who knows, the next group interview you are in might be the one where you are on the other side of the table!

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