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How to Handle Auditions / Group Interviews

By Laura DeCarlo

The concept of group interviews -- or "cattle calls" as I like to call them -- is not new and seems to be used frequently by airlines, chiropractic practices, and of course, reality TV show casting.

What Is an Audition/Group Job Interview?

In thse interviews, more than one job seeker is typically being interviewed by several of the employer's staff members.

How you interact with other job candidates as well as with the employer's staff are closely observed.

In this case, the interview is referred to as an audition, which seems common enough, but employers like Cold Stone Creamery and Southwest Airlines have elevated it to an art by evaluating issues that most job seekers would otherwise ignore.

Quite simply, in the audition, everything a candidate does and says from the minute they call for an application to the end of the group interview is being scrutinized.

How to Handle Audition/Group Job Interviews

Paying attention, operating with courtesy and professionalism at all communication points, and recognizing that everything you do or say will make an impression about you, are the critical elements of success in this type of interview.

Clients applying for jobs in transportation should be most aware of these types of activities. The following come from an article that may be a few years old but still has sage advice. According to secret number 8 in the Best Kept Secrets of the World's Best Companies article in Business 2.0’s April, 2006, issue - smart companies (like Southwest Airlines) turn the interview process into an all-encompassing tryout:

  1. When a candidate calls for an application, the manager on the phone jots down memorable points regarding the conversation.
  2. Applicants are tracked by flight attendants and gate agents with special tickets who are also making notes on behavior and alcohol consumption.
  3. During the group interview, when another applicant is speaking, you should pay attention and show interest because you are being watched as closely as the speaker by the participating managers.
  4. Be sure to help yourself stand out by having done your homework on the company and strategized on how to answer common interview questions. While everyone is providing generic answers you will be able to give a thoughtful and concrete answer that shows your knowledge and your ability. Employers will take note when you define yourself in this manner.
  5. Take advantage of any one-on-one time to make a contact that may allow you a point of reference for follow up and next steps. Avoid asking selfish questions at this point, and stay focused on what you can do for the company.

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Of course, knowing that you should always be courteous and professional should go without saying, but you never know who is reporting on your behavior, from the receptionist to the parking attendant to VP of recruiting.

So, how common are group interviews, cattle calls, and auditions when interviewing for a job? In a recent poll conducted by Career Directors International as a part of their annual Career Industry Expert Trends, a whopping 34% of surveyed human resource professionals worldwide stated that they had used or planned to use this type of interview.

Bottom Line

It’s important to realize that the companies in the Career Directors International survey who had used or were planning to use audition/group interviews were not limited to transportation industries. The industries using this method can be as broad as sales, medicine, and counseling, so everyone should be prepared to compete in live groups for their next job.


About the author...

Laura DeCarlo is recognized as the career industry’s ‘career hero’ making a difference to both job seekers and career professionals as the founder of Career Directors International. She possesses 11 top-level certifications in resume writing, career coaching, and career management; 7 first place resume and job placement awards; and has written three books on interviewing and job search including Interview Pocket RX, Interviewing: The Gold Standard, Resumes for Dummies,and Job Search Bloopers. Follow Laura on Google+ and Twitter at @careerhero.


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Guide to Successful Interviews

Essential Job Interviewing Requirements:

Job Interview Tips:


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Succeeding at Different Kinds of Job Interviews:

Preparation for Successful Interviews:

More Information About Interviews:


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