The successful way to conduct group interviews


You’re expanding the department and need to fill an entire sales division fast. You don’t have time for the back and forth interviews and a drawn out decision-making process. What should you do? This is a prime example of when group interviewing can save the day.

“Gathering key decision-makers together to interview multiple candidates can be a good approach as it can lead to a quicker consensus as to which candidates would be a good fit for the position,” said Sean Li, Associate Director of Robert Walters.

This is not to say that group interviews are ideal for every situation however they can be very beneficial if you are:

  1. Trying to fill multiple roles
  2. Want to screen a large amount of applicants
  3. Aiming to fill a role within a specific time period
  4. Filling a position where customer interaction and communication is a key aspect in the role

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when restructuring the interview process to incorporate group interviews:

Let the candidates know

One of the most crucial steps in this process is informing the candidates. Since many people find group interviews intimidating and to be honest, a little scary, it is best to let the candidates know as soon as possible in order to give them a chance to thoroughly prepare for the group setting.

Plan it out

The last thing you want is to feel unprepared in front of a group of potential coworkers. Instead plan ahead of time by compiling a list of questions that will encourage an open discussion. This way you can spot which candidates communicate clearly and professionally.

Problem solving questions are also a great way to understand how the candidates will approach issues in the workplace.

Introduce the interviewers

It’s best to conduct a group interview with multiple interviewers. This allows all applicants a chance to be observed - if you try to handle it all yourself you could potentially overlook a strong candidate.

Introduce each interviewer with specific details, including their position, how they would potentially work with the applicants and any other relevant information which relates to the role.

Allow candidates to introduce themselves

Start the interview off by letting each interviewee introduce themselves. This gives everyone a chance to familiarize with the group and gain confidence amongst their peers.

Instead of just asking them to share their name and background, ask them to share their ideal vacation or their favourite place they’ve visited. Starting the interview with a “getting to know you” question will set aside self-consciousness.

Differentiate your questions

While some questions will inevitably be the same for each interviewee, try to ask one to two unique questions per candidate. Since many questions will have been answered two to three times before some candidates even get a chance to answer, they may not have the best idea to share or what they wanted to say has already been said. By asking a unique question, you are able to observe and analyse each person, even the ones with the disadvantage of answering last.

Encourage questions

Make sure to allocate time to answer candidates' questions. Sometimes it is at the end when you can tell the overall interest in the interviewees. The candidates with good follow-up questions indicate they prepared for the interview and did their due diligence despite the group setting.

Take notes

You really liked Janet, or was her name Jenny? Taking notes is imperative when conducting group interviews. Otherwise you may call the wrong person back for a follow-up interview. Be sure to write the candidates names down and make a key, one star you liked them, two stars your really liked them, this way no one’s feelings get hurt if someone glances at your sheet and you won’t run into any HR issues when writing the description of the person to help you remember.

Want more advice on hiring? Check out our hiring advice page for tips.

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