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Group Interview as social experiment?


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I am 95% sure that my group interview was a test.... I applied to the CSUS School Counseling program and was invited to an interview. I showed up for my interview and, surprise, there were 6 applicants interviewed simultaneously! None of us were told that this would be a group interview. This is apparently how the Department of Education conducts all of their interviews. What I really want to know is, was this a test? A social experiment? A chance for the interviewers to see how we interact in a group setting? There were NO truly substantive questions asked, NO opportunities for us to ask questions, and NO enforced time limits on responses (which led to what I would consider an unfair hogging of time by some of the applicants in the room). It was bizarre. Does anyone else have any experience with this? Thanks. 

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I have not had direct experience with this. But many of my friends were in group interviews for other things. They were informed ahead of time that it would be a group interview though, and explicitly told that they would be evaluated not only on how they interact with the interviewers but also with each other. So, yes, their experience was a test.

It is hard for people to guess what your experience was since we're not the ones that designed the activity! It might have been a test. It might just be that the interviewer is super busy and have to interview people six at a time. 

I'm not sure what "fair" means when it comes to things like interview. To me, an interview is "fair" if the process actually selects for candidates that meet the criteria they are looking for, without introducing biases. For example, if you interview candidates by waking them up with a 3am phone call, then the biggest selection criteria is probably how coherent people are on the phone at 3am. If this ability is not what they are looking for, then it's not a fair interview. But if for some reason, they really do want people who respond better on the phone at 3am, then this is still a "fair" interview. (Now, whether or not this is a good criteria is another topic!)

In your post, you mentioned that you thought some candidates unfairly hogged time because there were no time limits. Maybe you are right and it was a poorly designed interview. But maybe they wanted to test how candidates respond when they are put in a surprise situation. Do they freeze or adapt? What do they do when their colleagues are hogging the time? Or they might wanted to see how candidates behave when they aren't given time limits---maybe they are looking for people who are aware that other people have things to say and they want to see how well candidates "share" the time.

My point is that at this point, it's finished now and there's nothing you can do to change it. For situations like this, I would say that the best you can do is to be your best self. There's no point beating yourself up over what you did or didn't do because you don't know what they are looking for. Good luck!

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