How To Conduct A Group Interview: Easy Guide To Success

In this guide we’re going to go over the best ways to conduct a group interview. Group interviews are becoming more common, especially in the startup or technology industry. It is becoming more common in that industry in particular because of the surface of available jobs. There are more jobs than ever and more applicants than ever.

With a relatively low bar for entry, meaning there aren’t exactly certification or license requirements for being able to be hired, it means there’s usually a large flood of applicants that Companies need to know how to handle. Group interviews help vet the best candidates not only for their skills, talents, communication, and presentation; but also for their fit within the companies employee chemistry.

What Are Group Interviews?

Group interviews are sessions in which a potential candidate is put into to better understand their fit with the role and the job requirements. In general, a group interview usually consists of a few parties that are involved. Those parties would be a hiring manager, someone in the HR department, a peer and a manager. This facilitates all of the levels of which that employee may interact with on a daily basis. And because of this, better helps a group of people consider the potential fit of a candidate.

Group interviews and not where multiple candidates are all in the same room together and interviewed simultaneously by one hiring manager, that would technically be illegal and may have some drastic privacy concerns associated to it.

How To Prepare For A Group Interview As A Company

To best prepare for a group interview as a company you need to have a few prerequisite pieces of information. Firstly, you need to know who is going to be involved in the conducting of the interviews. Get those people together and inform them early that they will be interviewing a candidate. Additionally, as the hiring manager, make sure you are informing the candidate by email which employees they will be meeting with and which departments they belong to.

You need to manage the expectations of the employee in order to ensure there is no friction or tension built before the interview sessions have begun. This also helps the interviewee better prepare for the interviews in advance.

The next most important thing is that the group of employee’s who are conducting the interviews, need to get together to understand that candidates background, which job they are applying for and what the common goals of each interview will be. Meaning, you don’t want to repeat yourself in the interview process and then have a poor time being able to evaluate the fit of that candidate.

Goals With A Group Interview

As mentioned above, your goals of the interview are most important. We usually recommend that you sit down and each person understands which quality they are going to be asking and inquiring about. For example, the manager may be inquiring about goal setting, communication, and process. Then the peer may be asking questions more directly related to the day to day tasks, ensuring that they have a proper amount of experience inside of the job they are applying for.

It’s important that you clearly set these goals with the employees who are conducting the interview. If you don’t do that in advance you risk not being able to evaluate the employee properly, not giving them the proper framework for being able to communicate with you, and you ultimately will have a very difficult time after the interviews are conducted.

What Happens After The Group Interview

After the group interview, usually the team will get together and discuss what qualities they were evaluating, to ensure that they all followed through on what they had planned before entering the group interview session, and then mark their scores (good and bad) against those goals. Usually, the combination of the review as a team concludes whether they will proceed with sending out an employment offer to the candidate or not.

This is why the person in HR (the hiring manager) is part of this process because they can move the candidate forward or alternatively let the candidate know they are not moving forward. This session is called a retrospective and should be done as a team, without the candidate present, after each group interview session.

Methods And Forms Of Group Interviews

There are two methods and forms of group interviews. The most common one is when an interviewing candidate has multiple meetings, back to back, with the employees who are part of the process. This is the most common one so that there is clear chemistry between the interviewer and the interviewee. The second, less common one, is when there are multiple employees interviewing a single candidate at the same time. The reason this is less common is that it requires a much larger amount of planning in advance and in the interview, can be quite daunting for the candidate. You’d have to ensure that each employee has the ability to communicate an equal amount in the allotted time. And even then, you may miss some questions in the act that prevent you from getting a proper holistic evaluation.

How Long Does A Group Interview Take

If you are conducting group interviews with 4-5 employees, all in various interview sessions, you could expect the entire process to take around 4 hours. If you're choosing to have the interview be a combined session, meaning that all employees are apart of the same interview, let's say for a lunch interview — then it could take around one hour.

Why Conduct A Group Interview

Group interviews are really important because it gives you the best advantage of hiring the best talent. If you plan the sessions properly and manage the expectations of everyone involved, you truly have the best scenario for evaluating a candidate. Contrary to just a single interview, where if that employee was hired, they may not exactly fit in with the rest of the organization.

Group interviews let people who will be working with that candidate give their early evaluation of the fit of the employee, making it much easier to transition them into the environment and start building towards successful executions and onboarding.

Lets Recap Group Interviews

To recap this guide on how to conduct a group interview. The things you’ll want to be sure of as a company is that you:

That should give you the best possible guide for being able to conduct these interviews well. If you are apart of a technology organization, these will feel pretty common to you. As more industries embrace what high-tech companies are doing both on the talent recruiting and HR front, you should be able to apply this to your company with relative ease.

Be sure to consistently remind yourself that interviews are about communication. Not only you communicating with the potential employee but communicating with the team members as well. It’s vital that all expectations are managed so that the company can hire only the best talent and that collaboration can exist at an early stage.

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, and many more.

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