How to Conduct a Group Interview

Are you looking for multiple people to fill the same position within a tight deadline? Or perhaps you have a large number of quality applicants and don’t have the time or budget for multiple one-on-one interviews?

You may have already considered conducting a group interview in these situations, but the fact that you’ve never done it before has deterred you.

Conducting group interviews is more challenging than interviewing candidates one-on-one. It requires great leadership, lots of preparation, and some assistance from your colleagues. But the benefits of conducting group interviews outweigh the challenges.

Today, I am going to take you through the most important steps of conducting a group interview to ensure you can pull them off without a hitch.

The Easy Parts of Conducting a Group Interview

Group interviews are the easiest way to fill a lot of positions for the same role type quickly. You’ll benefit from saving both time and money on the hiring process, while also speeding up that process if you need to fill those positions promptly.

One of the biggest benefits of conducting group interviews is that you have the unique opportunity of comparing equally qualified candidates side-by-side. You’ll also be able to observe how these candidates interact with others and observe their behaviors in dealing with multiple situations. This process can help make the successful candidate an obvious choice over others.

Recruiting the best candidates is even easier with recruiting software like Workable. It has hundreds of job description templates, ready for you to craft a killer job advertisement.

When you’re ready to advertise, it will post your open job role to over 200 job boards with the click of a single button. It will even streamline all your applications into one centralized portal. You’ll be hiring top-level candidates in time with Workable on your side.

The Difficult Parts of Conducting a Group Interview

Executing the perfect group interview can be tricky. A good interviewer will be able to lead and moderate the group, while also observing individual candidates at the same time. This does require some practice and multi-tasking skills, so it’s common to find this part difficult at first.

Conducting a group interview also requires a lot of planning and preparation. Some people struggle in this area, assuming they can get away with planning one or two activities and then just letting the conversation flow to observe the candidates. But if you want the best candidates to shine, you need to plan some thought-provoking and challenging exercises to distinguish among group members.

Step 1: Pre-Recruitment Planning

Planning is the key to any successful interview. This is especially true when it comes to group interviews, as there are more candidates and more positions to fill. Get your planning underway with the following tasks.

Determine the Number of Candidates Required

Group interviews are typically utilized when an organization needs multiple candidates to fill the same job role or want to compare many similarly matched candidates side-by-side.

With this in mind, it’s a great idea to start by determining how many candidates are required to meet your business needs. This will also allow you to evaluate the job responsibilities and make any changes before recruitment begins.

Determine the Interview Process

There are two main types of group interview structures. There are group discussions and group activities. In practice, most group interviews are a hybrid of these two formats, which allows interviewers to get a well-rounded impression of each candidate in different scenarios.

Then, following the group interview, most organizations would include at least one final round of one-on-one interviews before offering the candidate the role. Ideally, you’ll set this up early on to allow for in-depth planning and coordination in the future steps.

Secure a Venue for the Interview

Most offices won’t have a big enough space to accommodate a group interview, so you’ll most likely need to reserve an independent space for the purpose. Make sure the room is equipped with enough tables and chairs for the group and also has enough space for the group to break out into smaller groups easily.

This step is all about gathering your thoughts on how the interview process will unfold. It gives you an opportunity to outline the organization’s needs, to start the recruitment process with clear guidelines in place.

Step 2: Recruit the Candidates

In order to conduct a group interview, you’ll need some candidates. So this step is all about the recruitment process in the lead-up to the interview.

Enlist a Recruitment Tool

Managing a recruitment process from start to finish is complex enough for one candidate let alone the multiple you’ll be recruiting for your group interview. Instead of manually managing this process, you’ll want to enlist a savvy recruitment tool such as Workable to help you with the process.

Instead of manually posting your open job role to multiple job boards, Workable will automatically post it to up to 200 job sites at once, putting your job advertisement in front of thousands of candidates. You can even automate interview scheduling by allowing candidates to select the group interview time slot that suits them.

You’ll also be able to manage the entire hiring process with a centralized hiring pipeline. Collaborate with colleagues on top-level candidates and guide your hiring teams through fair and objective evaluations, mitigating bias and putting the best candidates forward.

It’s safe to say that recruiting and hiring are made easy with Workable.

Create the Job Posting

Crafting the job description is a walk in the park with Workable. You’ll have access to over 700+ job description templates, which are optimized for search and job board performance, ready to copy and paste.

Start by highlighting what the role entails and the ideal skills and experience required to be successful in applying. Don’t forget to also showcase the perks and benefits candidates can expect in return if they’re successful in attaining the position. Including these details will ensure you’re enticing top-level talent to apply.

Post the Role Vacancy on Multiple Platforms

Once you’ve crafted the perfect job advertisement, Workable will post your open job role to over 200 free and premium job boards, including Indeed and LinkedIn, with the click of a button.

Then as applications roll in, Workable will collect and organize them, then add them to your Workable pipeline. This allows you to review candidates from hundreds of job sites all in one place.

Step 3: Group Interview Preparation

As the applications are rolling in, it’s time to get prepared for the group interview. The following tasks are vital in ensuring that the interview process will go smoothly. Ideally, you’ll cover these steps before applications close so you can swiftly move into the interview stage.

Prepare Interview Components

In the pre-recruitment planning stage, you would have decided on the rough structure of the group interview. Now it’s time to settle on how many components you’ll include and what they’ll entail.

Will you conduct one activity segment and one discussion segment? Will you include an ice-breaker activity to get the group feeling more relaxed and comfortable? How long will you allow for each component?

These are all questions that should be answered and prepared prior to the interview day.

Create Interview Scorecards

Once you’ve decided on how many components the interview will have, you can create interview scorecards to match each segment. These scorecards are vital to collecting relevant information on each candidate on the day.

The scorecards will provide direction for fellow interviewers of what they should be looking for in a candidate to ensure sufficient information is collected for each person. Interview scorecards also help to eliminate any individual biases that unintentionally arise, by providing clear guidelines to measure against.

Contact Candidates with Interview Details

Depending on how many candidates you have, you may hold multiple group interviews. If this is the case, alert the candidates of the available dates and times, including details such as interview time and location, format, and duration of the interview too.

Using software such as Workable, you’ll be able to send a personalized, bulk communication email including all these details to candidates. Furthermore, candidates will be able to schedule themselves for their prepared interview slot, saving recruiters dreaded email back-and-forth in the process.

Step 4: Conducting the Group Interview

Interview day has arrived and if you’ve followed the steps above you are well prepared to execute a successful group interview. And although you can’t predict exactly how the group interviews will unfold with multiple different personalities in one room, you can still follow your plan.

Welcome and Introductions

Start the group interview by introducing yourself, the fellow interviewers, and the company. This is a great opportunity to discuss the company’s mission and goals, the job position, and outline the interview process.

Then invite the candidates to introduce themselves to the rest of the group. If you want to turn this into an icebreaker activity, you can have candidates pair up and spend five minutes getting to know one another and then present each other to the group. Here you have your first opportunity to observe candidates interacting with their potential colleagues.

Provide Clear Instructions

By now the candidates should be relaxed and ready to dive into the interview. Your job as the interview leader is not only to lead the interview but also to moderate the candidates if things get a little competitive or heated.

Start by providing general instructions for each segment. Then provide clear, in-depth instructions for the first activity, and break the candidates into smaller teams to start. While they’re working on this activity, you should be keeping track of time and informing candidates when the time for the activity is coming to an end.

You’ll repeat this for as many segments as is required, potentially with breaks in between to give everyone a chance to refresh themselves.

Carefully Observe Candidates

While the candidates work on the group discussion and activities, it’s time for you to carefully observe each candidate. It is hard to keep track of multiple candidates at once, which is why it’s important to use the scorecards you’ve prepared earlier. Note down the candidates’ answers and behaviors. Later, you’ll be able to rely on these scorecards to review and compare the candidates with relevant information.

When you’re observing the candidates, it’s important to consider their body language, how they interact with others, and the role they take on in the group. This will give you a much clearer picture of each person’s true character, than simply relying on the answers they provide.

Wrap Up the Interview

As the activities come to a close, it’s time to wrap up the interview. Gather all the candidates together once more and explain what happens next.

At this stage, it’s a good idea to let the candidates know when they can expect to hear from you, remind them of the remaining interview process, and an expected timeline for these next steps to take place. Give them a chance to ask any last questions about the company or the process too.

Don’t forget to thank the candidates for their time and effort and wish them all the best of luck.

It does take an experienced interviewer to pull off a smooth group interview. If it’s your first time interviewing multiple candidates at once, just follow these steps, lead the room with confidence, and the rest will fall into place.

Step 5: Evaluate the Candidates

Having successfully pulled off an impeccable group interview, it’s time to evaluate the candidates and work towards the next steps of the recruitment process.

Sort Out Your Notes

Start by sorting out your notes on each candidate over the process so far. These notes might include each candidate’s resume and application details, as well as the scorecard notes you wrote during the group interview.

Take some time to go over each candidate and jot down any further thoughts or impressions you had, to gain clarity over where you sit with each candidate’s performance. You can also sort the candidate’s into most likely to least likely to hire to make the debrief with fellow interviewers smoother.

Debrief Session for Interviewers

Ideally, you’ll debrief with the other interviewers within 24 hours of holding the group interview to ensure the conduct of each candidate remains front of mind.

This session is all about bringing together your notes to collectively decide who progresses to the next round, and who doesn’t, and why. This is a really important step in the process as it ensures that bias or favoritism is left out of the equation.

Provide Closure to All Candidates

When all interviewers have agreed on who is in and who is out, take the time to provide closure to all candidates. Let successful candidates know about the next steps and provide detailed information about these.

Send personalized post-interview rejection emails to unsuccessful candidates. It’s also a great idea to provide constructive feedback to those who didn’t make the cut, so they can focus on improvements for future interviews.

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