Interviewing many people at once is beneficial for streamlining your hiring practice

Group interviews: finding stress-resilient, team-oriented candidates

Interviewing many people at once is beneficial for streamlining your hiring practice

Conducting a group interview is quite different from managing more common one-on-one or panel conversations with a single candidate. A group interview suggests a context in which multiple candidates are interviewed at the same time.

Having an intense dynamic and a particular logical structure aiming to reveal the qualities of the candidate in an artificially stressful context, group interviews are agreat way of meeting multiple candidates and testing their emotional resilience, leadership, team-working, initiative, and presentation skills.

Many large businesses conduct group interviews for the sake of streamlining their hiring efforts.

In fact, group interviews have many advantages that HR professionals should consider:

  • A recruiter gets a chance to fill many positions within a specific limited time frame (especially when you are dealing with high volume recruitment, in periods of seasonal hiring, when you have a great number of similar positions, etc).
  • Group interviews allow recruiters to screen a lot of evenly skilled applicants (for instance, fresh graduates) and compare their skills and qualifications in “live” mode, witnessing their competences’ application through tests, team work activities, and job-specific tasks.
  • Group interviews bring positive results in case of hiring for roles where teamwork, advanced communication and handling big stress are the most important, even indispensable requirements for the position (as an example, in customer service or on-site sales). Group interviews, in fact, are a great way to identify the best candidates with highly-developed interpersonal and stress management skills
  • Group interviews may serve as a primary filter that narrows down a larger pool of candidates to the selected most qualified ones. After this first pre-selection round, you can size up your preferences and invite the successful applicants to the next stage of one-on-one interviews.
  • The Business Report suggests that “the group interviews are also a great way to inoculate candidates with information about the position, the company, and most importantly, the culture. This way, you’re not answering the same questions repeatedly, and it gives candidates a chance to ask questions and hear answers to their peers’ questions”.
  • Lastly, interviewing multiple applicants at once saves your resources: group interviews are simply more efficient in terms of work hours spent on the candidates’ selection.

Group interviews are commonly used to screen the following specialists:

  • All types of Sales professionals
  • Call Center Representatives / Customer Service agents
  • Media professionals and PR managers
  • Hospitality field employees (receptionists, hotel managers and administrators, booking agents)
  • Animators
  • Business Development Consultants
  • Flight attendants

How to do it right

To be successful, the entire process of organising and executing group interviews must be well-planned in advance. Make up your mind about the place where you want to hold the interview. Estimate how many candidates would constitute the maximum number for the location. Carefully choose the interviewers and facilitators that should follow a drafted script. Compose a structured list of questions, think of their order and semantic accents, encourage an open discussion among the candidates.

One of the core principles is to avoid unpleasant situations when a candidate leaves a group interview because he/she counted on an individual one – so, always give your applicants a notice in advance about the interview type you are organising. Group interviews are usually nerve-racking, so let people have some additional time to prepare for it.

Don’t overuse group interviewing: it works smoothly only when applied in the right context. Also, carefully choose the interview questions and plan the tasks/activities, such as case studies, discussions, or simulation exercises. Never underestimate the training aspect: the interviewers should have a relevant expertise in conducting group interviews, knowing it’s specifics and complexity. Indeed, managing a group screening is not a banal task: it requires profound interviewing skills and an advanced competence of observing multiple candidates at once.

Starting the group interview, kick it off by letting all interviewees introduce themselves. It will allow your candidates to have a closer look at each other, compare their experiences, familiarise with the others, and get extra confidence among the rivals.

Order some refreshments for the candidates if your group activities are going to take a while. Water, tea, coffee and some snacks are not only a considerate gesture from your side, but also a step towards creating a relaxed friendly atmosphere.

In case you are interviewing a lot of candidates at once, divide them into small groups so that everyone has a chance to speak out and eventually demonstrate leadership skills.

Always take notes during the process. While observing numerous candidates, it is not easy to keep track of their contribution, behaviour and initiatives along the way, and a couple of scorecards may help you out with collecting the reliable data to analyse after the interview.

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