Human Resource

A Detailed Guide (with Tips) to Conduct Effective Group Interviews

What is a group interview?

Group interviews are a type of interview wherein multiple candidates get interviewed simultaneously. Interpreting a popular group interview definition, several candidates are asked to gather in one room. Here, they are interviewed by a single interviewer, or in most cases, a couple or group of interviewers at the same time.

Many recruiters often mistake group interviews for panel interviews. Both the terms are vastly different from the other. The main difference lies in the number of candidates that get interviewed simultaneously and not in how many interviewers are on the panel.

In group interviews, many candidates get interviewed by one or more recruiters. While in a panel interview, one candidate is interviewed by multiple recruiters. Let us find out when to use group interviews effectively.

In what situations should you use group interviews?

Group interviews sessions can be introduced effectively during the following scenarios:

  • Filling job positions on tight deadlines
    Group interviews are a perfect way to fill up several open job vacancies. It is generally used for seasonal recruitment where employers usually have a short time frame to hire for vacant job positions.
  • A surge of similar applications
    If you have a huge pool of a similar kind of candidates, group interviews can help you screen the lot quickly and find the top candidates among them.
  • Hire multiple candidates for same job positions across the company
    Group interviews are a swift and effective solution to fill multiple employees for the same kind of job positions across the company. For instance, a mass hiring drive is conducted to hire entry-level employees.
  • To fill positions requiring teamwork
    This format of interviews can be useful to evaluate candidates and fill job positions that require good communication skills, effective stress management skills and an aptitude for teamwork. Because group interviews showcase these skills in action.
  • Select top candidates from among the fresh candidates
    When the employer wants to fill entry-level positions and has to select top fit candidates from a large pool of fresh candidates, they one can employ the group interview method.

The thing with freshers is that everyone has the same qualification and abilities. They have not had previous experience and exposure to mould them differently. However, even here you are looking for that one person who will stand out from the crowd and be a good fit for the culture of the company. Thus, group interviews are great as they allow you to select the best from the rest.

Why conduct group interviews?

Group interviews provide distinct advantages in comparison to the classic personal job interview. Let us look at the benefits of conducting group interviews:

  • Saves time
    A group discussion interview or group interviews allow the employer to evaluate many candidates simultaneously. Therefore, it is an effective tool to save time and allow you to refine your pool of candidates. Group interviews allow a faster screening process, bringing in more efficiency to your recruitment efforts.
  • Saves money
    Contrary to popular belief, group interviews are more affordable than personal interviews. With group interviews, you can evaluate several candidates in the time spent on evaluating a single candidate in the personal interview. Evaluating multiple candidates in a shorter time frame reduces your recruitment costs significantly in terms of recruiter fees and other expenses.
  • Easy to compare candidates
    Interviewers can use group interviews to observe multiple candidates and assess their behaviours and performance under these conditions. Plus, they can compare their candidates to shortlist the best performers. Therefore, a group discussion makes it easier to perform a direct comparison between candidates, making the interviewers’ evaluation and decision-making process easy.
  • Observe candidate skills
    Another advantage of group interviews is that interviewers can observe and assess the soft skills of the candidates in action, rather than simply relying on a candidate’s written or verbal claim. Group interviews extend a good opportunity to assess candidates on communication skills, street management and teamwork. After all, these soft skills are an important requirement for any candidate to excel at their job.
  • Reduce inaccuracy and bias
    More often, multiple interviewers conduct group interviews, greatly reducing the chances of inaccuracy and bias in decision-making. This is the best advantage of collaborative recruitment. Also, multiple observers or evaluators for one candidate provides multiple perspectives for one particular candidate; this results in accurate candidate evaluation and recruitment.
  • Spotting future leaders
    A group interview is designed to assess candidates on how they behave or function when pitted in a group. How candidates react or respond to the group interview questions or situations, reflect much more about the candidate than just their knowledge and skills. It is a brilliant opportunity for interviewees to spot potential leaders in the group or candidates that possess notable leadership skills.

Group interview types

Group interviews are divided into 2 main categories:
Group discussion
Group activity

Group discussion

In this kind of interview, the primary focus is on conducting a group discussion and evaluating the candidates based on their thought process, interaction and overall performance.

In group discussions, interviewers give a specific topic to the candidates and then encourage them to begin the discussion or debate around it.

Groups are created based on the total number of candidates. The number should be such that every candidate in the group can arrive at conclusions at the end of the discussion.

Group activity

This kind of group interview focuses on group exercise or activity. Interviewers give a group of candidates different tasks or simulated work exercises specific to their industry, and then ask the group to work as a team to find the solution.

Again, the group should be created in such a way that every candidate could be evaluated individually of their distinct skills while performing in the group. The task should provide a constructive conclusion.

How to conduct group interviews

Let us check out group interview tips on how to conduct effective group interviews.

  • Inform the candidates
    Inform all the candidates in advance that they would be undergoing group interviews. In general, group interviews could be difficult and exhausting, so you must allow them adequate time for mental and emotional preparation. Group interviews, usually, include more questions than a normal interview. Therefore, candidates need to be well-prepared to be able to give distinct answers that will enable them to stand out from the rest. In the information email, you can also include certain details, such as who and how many interviewers would take the interview in this scenario.
  • Meet and interact with other interviewers ahead of the interview
    This is the most significant step of a group interview process. Interviewers must meet and interact with the others on the panel and determine the best way to go about with the interview. You all should discuss what questions to ask, how to ask what questions and how to evaluate every candidate’s performance.

This step is important because every individual on the panel is a decision-maker and has different preferences depending on their positions within the organization, thus, each panel member will have varying questions for the candidate. Therefore, conduct an open discussion between panel members on their preferences and the kind of question they would want to ask. Then, sort out the differences of opinion, if any, within the group. And, only after all the panel members are on the same page, invite the candidate lot for the group interview.

It helps to appoint a candidate to be in charge of the group. They will lead the panel on the kind of questions that need to be asked to the candidates; they would be tasked with managing the group interview from beginning to the end. This will bring a proper order and structure to the interview process.

  • Introduce your team to the candidate
    When the candidates arrive for the group interview, each member of the interview panel should introduce themselves. They must state their full name, followed by their job role and the reason they are a part of the interview panel. This information will give a fair idea about the background of the individuals in the interview panel. Post the introduction, candidates will know what is expected of them and they can frame their answers accordingly to give the kind of response they think the panel expects.
  • Take turns to ask questions
    It is highly unfair to ask all the questions at once. This will confuse the candidate and the interviewers will come across as unprepared and unprofessional. Therefore, the interviewer panel should plan their questions and take turns to ask the candidates questions systematically. While this structures the interview properly, it also helps every panel member to effectively evaluate the candidate as per their parameters. Finally, every panel member should be allowed to add extra comments for a candidate or ask more questions if required.
  • Debrief
    Take some time out to discuss the performance of the candidate with other interviewers. You could either do this after every interview or after completing the entire interview session. Either ways, do not delay the discussion for another day or the later date. It should be done when the events of the interview are still fresh in your head so that you can constructively evaluate the candidate. Discussing your views with other panel members is sure to help you make the right hiring decision.

Group interviews deliver the best results when conducted in a structured manner. The main objective of group interviews is to find the best-fit candidates from a pool of eligible candidates. Therefore, plan your group interviews well for a positive conclusion.

Shalini L

One of the prime contributors for this blog, Expertise in Staffing and Recruitment, Content Strategist by Profession. A Music Lover & Traveller by Choice.

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