While the least common of interview types, the group interview is a creative way to help employers quickly get through multiple candidates. When done correctly, and usually as a first-round interview, the group setting carries great advantages over scheduling individual first-round interviews with each candidate. However, this type of initial screening process is not without flaw. Some of the pros and cons include:
- Allows employers to quickly qualify and/or eliminate first-round candidates
- Has the potential to create camaraderie and relax candidates
- Takes them out of a natural interview environment, allowing for less-prepared answers
- Forces candidates to speak up and show interest in the company
- Allows interviewers to see a candidate’s natural reaction to a team environment
- If including more than one manager, allows for more objectivity in candidate assessment
- Could overshadow quiet, equally qualified candidates
- Could produce an unnatural response, but this could be true for all interview types
- Requires creativity in implementing
- Requires a longer time period to execute, often one to two hours
- Usually requires more than one manager to execute effectively
If you do decide to implement a group interview, it’s important to spend time focusing on what you’re looking to get out of it. For example, let’s say you want to see how candidates work with others. What activities will you use to achieve that? Scavenger hunts? Team building? Splitting them into teams to solve a problem?
It’s also important to note that you’re not required to eliminate any candidate after a group interview. You may decide that having this type of first-round interview simply allows you to see a different, team-focused side of a candidate and will only serve as an aide in assessing their strengths and weaknesses once you have their individual interview. It may be helpful to start with non-elimination group interviews while you and your team grow accustomed to the style and techniques that create a successful group interview. That way, your candidates are not penalized for a period of growth while you work out the kinks.
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.
Usually, the pros of group interviews outweigh the often-preventable cons. Use the time during a group interview to get to know your candidates in a more casual setting, and allow them to see the relaxed, more accurate representation of the company they’re interested in.