Finding the right candidate for a vacancy can be very challenging for recruiters, especially when they receive many interesting profiles. Unfortunately, a cover letter and a CV do not always allow for an accurate impression of each candidate and there is not enough time to interview everyone. For others, a second opinion would be appreciated before hiring a new employee. Luckily, group interviews – with multiple candidates and/or multiple interviewers – can solve some of these problems. Before organizing a group interview though, there are things to consider which can greatly affect the efficiency of the process. Is this kind of interview right for your recruiting needs? Keep reading to find out.
When to Use a Group Interview
Before asking, “why should I use a group interview?” ask yourself, “Why do I interview at all?”. Thomas Edison conducted the very first interview back in 1921 because he received many applications from graduates wanting to work in his workshop. The frustration of employing candidates who were not as skilled as they appeared to be led Edison to create a series of tests to determine who to hire. Since then, the interviewing process has come a long way, but the ultimate goal as remained the same: recruiters want to find the best fit for the vacancies in the company.
The interview process allows a recruiter to meet and converse with a potential employee, but it should also enable a candidate to gain insight into what the job requires. If teamwork is a big part of the company and the job requirements, then it makes sense to put candidates in similar conditions when interviewing them. A group interview can definitely be a good way to test candidates’ teambuilding skills. Candidates usually pay careful attention to their recruiters, and they neglect the other candidates in the room. For this reason, listening and communication exercises can be a handy way to see which candidates are playing the game and which ones are too focused on outshining the others.
Group interviews aren’t always about working together. Some jobs require a competitive nature to succeed. Interviewing many people at the same time for the same position can also be used to test their ability to fight for the job. Listening exercises will still be an important part of the process, but they will be used differently. For competitive positions, innovative and fast thinking is more likely to be the focus of the tests that the candidates need to pass. Obviously, competitive environments can lead to stress, but if the job is stressful, it is important to know how your future employees is going to handle it before hiring them. Stressful interviews make the candidate take in the level of stress involved in the job and they give recruiters a chance to assess how candidates solve problems quickly, how they deal with feedback and how they handle unpredictable situations.
If you have many vacancies to fill at once, you can opt for a longer group interview and consider group training. The advantage of this kind of activity is that the candidates have time to bond over the course of the training so the teamwork evolves. Furthermore, it gives the recruiter a chance to compare the candidates over time: how they learn, how they interact, how they help one another, etc. Those who struggle to do the exercises or who work badly with others will progressively reveal themselves.
However, if the position involves little to no teamwork, a group interview could throw off a perfectly good candidate. If the work environment is not stressful, there is no need to put candidates through an unnecessary ordeal before offering them a position in the company.
Things to Consider Before Conducting a Group Interview
First things first, you should always inform your candidates that you are conducting a group interview. If the aim of the interview is to observe candidates in conditions similar to those of their future job, then there is no need for an element of surprise. You do not gain anything from catching people off guard. When employees show up for work, they are not surprised to see other people there, and so your candidates should not be surprised to see other candidates.
Some recruiters think that a group interview will save them time and money. However, even if a group interview enables a recruiter to meet many candidates all at once, it is not necessarily cheaper or less time-consuming than a series of individual interviews. Depending on the exercises you use to test the candidates, a group interview can last an entire day, if not longer. That is why it’s important to consider if a group interview is really the best choice for the position you are looking to fill. For high profile positions, some more experienced candidates dislike the blatant competitive nature of group interviews. Furthermore, you need to feel comfortable leaving a new recruit in charge for a position with many responsibilities. For that reason, a one-on-one interview will be necessary regardless of whether or not you conducted a group interview before.
A group interview requires a lot of preparation. Recruiters need to consider what kind of activities will best reflect the work environment, but they also have to determine an evaluation process. Many will argue that an efficient team is not built in a day, and that it is unreasonable to expect strangers to act like colleagues within minutes of meeting each other. This is true, which is why you cannot evaluate your candidates based solely on their interaction with one another.
Another flaw in the group interview often highlighted is the limited time a recruiter has to get to know each candidate. However, it is safe to argue that a first interview is not the place to build a rapport or to make friends. Once you have decided to employ one of the candidates, then you can start building a proper rapport with them. Until then, it is best not to get too attached.
Candidates, What to Expect in a Group Interview
A group interview usually has more candidates than recruiters so we have not forgotten to consider their place in the process! Here is some key aadvice that candidates should keep in mind:
- Prepare for the interview. Preparing for a group interview is similar to preparing for a one-on-one interview. In previous articles, we have summarized some clear guidelines to ensure you ace a job interview, and those same guidelines apply for a group interview.
- Do not let your guard down. Some group interviews last an hours, others last an entire day. In such cases, recruiters are also watching over the lunchbreak, so remember to be social. Even if you are no longer in the interview room, you want to be consistent, so that the recruiter does not the impression you are playing a role.
- Listen to others. When others are answering questions or solving problems, you are not just waiting your turn. Recruiters expect you to listen to the other candidates and to pay attention to everything for the entire course of the interview. The other people are your competition, but they are also your potential colleagues so you might need to work with them one day. Furthermore, you can always use their ideas to improve your own. More importantly, you do not want to repeat an answer that someone else already gave to a question.
- Ask pertinent questions. Even if you need to listen to the other candidates, you ultimately want to outshine them. Be the candidate who asks the smart questions by rereading some of the best question to ask at the end of an interview.
We hope our article on group interviews has been helpful. Here at Jobboard Finder, the largest job board search engine, we aim to improve the recruiting process for recruiters and jobseekers alike. If you have any suggestions for our blog, please leave a comment below.
Author: Ali Neill
As the job board tester and blog editor for the Jobboard Finder, Ali works on job boards from all around the world and keeps a close eye on the recruitment trends thanks to a number of sources, including the website’s social media pages.
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