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What to Expect at a Team Interview

They’re all here to interview you.

Team Player

Rather than meeting with a few higher ups during a job interview, more companies are asking candidates to meet the whole team.

“Team interviews are especially valuable as a complement to one-on-one interviews, so we do both,” Dan Ruch, founder and CEO of Rocketrip, told us. His company’s software helps reduce corporate travel spending by giving employee’s incentives to save.

“The traditional interview is largely geared to finding out about the candidate’s background and goals, whereas a team interview is a better simulation of what it would actually be like to work with an applicant,” he said.

“It’s a way to see how someone interacts in a group context. In a team interview, you see how someone communicates and how they collaborate.”

Team interviews might take the shape of a few interviews scheduled back to back with different team members. Or you might be meeting with a handful of employees together.

These interviews can be a little trickier than traditional interviews, and that’s by design. “We want to see an applicant think on her feet,” said Ruch. “This means actually listening to the questions and feedback given by the interviewers, not just directing the conversation back to pre-written talking points.”

You might be speaking off the cuff, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your homework. “Candidates should do a LinkedIn search in advance for those she is meeting with,” said Helen Phung, the director of communications Shippo, a shipping tech startup based in San Francisco.

“A little research can go a long way. Did you go to the same college, or have the same contacts in common? If so, it can serve as a great icebreaker during the interview and a catalyst for getting to know your prospective future colleagues.”

You should also be prepared to go offsite with a team, according to Katie Wenclewicz, the public relations specialist at One Click. (Entrepreneur magazine recently added eyewear company One Click to their top company culture list.)

At One Click, “potential hires meet with the teams that they would specifically work with, along with meeting the CEO and COO,” Wenclewicz told us.

“Instead of asking the regular questions on experiences, current One Click employees get to know the individual outside of work as they are taking the potential hire out to coffee or lunch on the company.”

The final part of a team interview might include a role- specific project, as is the case at Rocketrip.

“Potential account executives, for instance, will give a sales pitch for our product, while customer success managers will be asked to present their analysis of sample client performance data,” said Ruch. “We’re most interested in seeing how an applicant thinks through a real world problem.”

For current team members, these team interviews give everyone, even junior employees, the chance to gain experience interviewing candidates and an opportunity having a say in how the company grows.

“Instead of having just one member make the decision after meeting a potential hire, the team can all have a say in things,” said Wenclewicz.

Team interviews could also help companies hire more diverse employees. “When a candidate meets with various team members, you are more likely to get a 360 degree understanding of that person, share second opinions or evaluate any bias you have for or against that candidate,” said Phung.

What trend can you expect next in hiring? It might just be team hiring. Last spring, Stripe announced that any group of two to five people can apply as a team to the company. So at least this way, if you have to do a team interview, you won’t be on your own.

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