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How To Conduct an Effective Group Interview

by | Oct 24, 2018 | Interviewing Best Practices

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 intervie