Group interviews are not uncommon in large businesses where the hiring process needs to be streamlined. Group interviews may include a manager, a member of your HR team, or someone who has already worked in the position that is being filled. Group interviews can be daunting for job applicants since they will have to share the room with other candidates.
How to Conduct a Group Interview:
1. Inform the candidates.
Make sure that each candidate is aware that they will be meeting for a group interview. Group interviews can be nerve-racking, so you should give them time to prepare. Since a group interview usually involves more questions, being equipped with this knowledge will help the candidates to think of responses that will help them stand out. You can include details of who will be conducting the interview in your interview request email.
2. Meet with the other interviewers before meeting with candidates.
This is probably the single most important step in the group interview process. You need to sit down with the other interviewers and determine how you will conduct the interview. You should decide what questions you will ask, who will ask them and how you will evaluate the performance of each candidate.
Because each key decision-maker on the interview panel probably has different priorities based on their unique position in the company, each person will have different questions. Openly discuss what those are and how you would like to address them. You don't want to feel like you are working against each other in the interview.
Generally speaking, it is best for one of the interviewers to be in charge of managing the interview from start to finish. This person can guide the interview by giving each person an opportunity to speak and making sure that the candidates do not feel rushed.
3. Introduce yourselves to the candidates when they arrive.
Each person in the interview should state their name, their job title and why they are involved in the interview. This will help the candidates to know what concerns that individual might have and what they really want to know.
4. Take turns asking questions.
It isn't fair to the people being interviewed if questions are coming from everyone all at once. Take turns asking your specific questions, and then at the end of the interview, you can allow for a final round of questions or for additional comments from the candidates. Again, the person guiding the interview should facilitate this.
5. Debrief with the other interviewers.
Take time to discuss your impressions of the candidates with the other interviewers once the interview is over. You can do this directly following the interview, or later in the day. In either case, you should have this discussion as soon as you can while the interview is still fresh in your mind. Talking it through with the other interviewers will help you to make a decision about who is the best fit for the job.
Group Interview Tips:
- Give everyone a chance to speak.
- Let the candidates ask questions too.
- Prioritize what questions need to be talked about.
- Meet with other interviewers before candidates arrive.
- Discuss first-impressions after the interview.
How many people should be included in a group interview?
This really depends on the size of the space that you will be conducting the interview in. However, you shouldn't include too many applicants or the interview will be difficult to manage. If you have a large pool of candidates, consider breaking them up and scheduling several group interviews.
Can we invite an applicant back for a second interview?
If you have shortlisted the candidate but you feel that you need to learn more about them before you give them a job offer letter, you can call them back in for a second, private interview with the same interviewers. This could also be a good opportunity to have a more senior member of your company meet the candidate and ask their own questions.
Why should we use group interviews rather than normal interviews?
Group interviews don't work for everyone, so it really depends on the needs of your business. Do you need to speed up the hiring process? If so, a group interview might be the best way to do it. However, if you're hiring for a highly specialized position, a one-on-one interview is probably the best way to go.