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The Applicant Manager Blog

How To Conduct an Effective Group Interview

Posted by Edna Nakamoto on Oct 24, 2018 8:07:00 AM

Interviewer conducting a group interview with three candidatesGroup interviewing is a technique in the recruiting process where a hiring manager interviews several applicants at the same time for the same or similar positions. More and more businesses are embracing this approach. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why.

If you need to fill a large number of positions immediately for seasonal hiring or a startup, group interviews can help you quickly add headcount by reducing the time one-to-one interviews would have taken. Group interviews tend to be more structured from the beginning because they require more pre-planning, meaning the that applicants have a more consistent experience.

You may even consider group interviews for positions that require strong people skills or the ability to handle high-stress situations. Group interviews can also serve as a filtering process to whittle down your pool of applicants to those most qualified to move on to the one-on-one interview round. A group of people whose opinion matters can hear the same answer from the applicant at the same time. And, the group interview gives the applicant the opportunity to meet many team members without them having to repeat the same answers over and over again.

While there are advantages to the group interview technique, there are also drawbacks. SHRM mentions that group interviewers can accidentally confuse candidates or mis-remember who had what positive skills and attributes, leading to poor hiring choices. Another issue with group interviews is that they may expose many people to what should be a highly confidential process. You also risk losing out on the most qualified candidates when extroverts steal the show during the interview session, or because the process may intimidate a candidate who would not necessarily need to address groups of people in their job..

With these pros and cons in mind, here are a few group interviewing best practices to follow if you decide to use this technique in your recruiting process.

Group Interviewing Best Practices

Interview Time Optimization

If saving time is a top priority, you need a way to identify the most qualified candidates for the group interview process. This is where an applicant tracking system saves the day. With an applicant tracking system, you have access to data-driven models, pre-screening questions, and other functions to bring the most highly qualified candidates straight to the top of the stack.

Once you have the right applicants for the interview, it’s time to plan for the group interview itself. Think of the best, most efficiently-run meetings you’ve attended. One thing they probably have in common is that the leader planned. The meeting had structure and an agenda. Treat your group interviews with that same level of planning.

Group Interview Techniques

When you decide to use a group interview, there are many techniques you can employ. Here are a few to consider.

  • Group questions that encourage candidates to demonstrate their team communication skills.
  • Team exercises (they don’t even have to be related to the job itself) that help you assess soft skills, such as teamwork and leadership.
  • Group presentations about a topic relevant to the job to demonstrate their knowledge and skills.
  • Individual questions that allow you to hear how well each person thinks on his or her feet.
  • Questions that uncover how well candidates fit with corporate values and beliefs.

Typical Results of Group Interviewing

Since not all group interview sessions are the same, it’s difficult to pinpoint “typical” results. However, there is the potential for the following good and bad outcomes.

  • People refuse to interview or leave before the session is over. 
  • The loudest or most extroverted, rather than the most qualified, candidate dominates the interview.
  • The most competent candidate is immediately obvious since you have the opportunity to compare applicants side-by-side immediately.
  • You gain insight into how people may perform in new environments, under stress, and in groups.
  • Interviewers have the same experience with the applicant avoiding situational differences when they are in different interviews being asked the same or similar questions.

To ensure you get the most reliable results out of each group interview session, you need to: 

  • Communicate expectations and information in advance about the structure of the interview, to both the candidate and the interviewers..
  • Play the role of facilitator to ensure candidates get an equal opportunity to speak.
  • Have a firm idea of what skills and attributes you are looking for before you start the interview. 
  • Don’t allow yourself to be charmed by personality if the skills and experience aren’t part of the package.
  • Provide a rating sheet or interview feedback sheet to the interviewers ahead of time to ensure that the interviewers are comparing each applicant against the same set of criteria.

What’s Your Take on Group Interviews?

When done with forethought, planning, and empathy for the applicants, a group interview can save you time and bring out the best in those who interview with your company. Just remember to:

  • Prescreen so that you only include qualified candidates in the interview.
  • Create a structure for the meeting: build that agenda ahead of time, and develop your criteria for “the right fit.”
  • Facilitate the session in a way that allows all applicants the opportunity to impress you. Not everyone is an extrovert.
  • Only use in cases where you need to hire several people for similar roles at once, or when you need to hire someone who will be in a public-facing or collaborative role.

 

Interested in learning more about how The Applicant Manager can help you find the best candidates for your group interview? Schedule a live demo with our team below.

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Edna Nakamoto

Written by Edna Nakamoto