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Discover everything you need to know about this type of job interview, what benefits it can bring, and how employers can effectively incorporate group interviews into their hiring practices.
What is a group interview?
A group interview involves one or more interviewers meeting multiple candidates at the same time. When used correctly, they offer an excellent opportunity to assess each candidate’s soft skills, observe their interactions with each other, and identify the best candidates for each open role.
Group interviews are beneficial when a company needs to hire for multiple positions within a short timeframe, but they must be well planned and efficiently run to be effective. They usually incorporate a blend of interview questions directed to individual candidates and group activities—which can be either in-person or delivered using virtual breakout rooms.
Group interview vs. panel interview
Group interviews and panel interviews both involve multiple candidates and interviewers, but they’re not the same thing.
It’s worth noting that sometimes, panel interviews are referred to as a type of group interview—but unlike a true group interview where multiple candidates are interviewed at the same time—a panel interview involves just one candidate being interviewed by multiple interviewers.
Both can be held in-person or virtually, depending on the type of role and the company’s preference. While a resort hiring for multiple hospitality roles may prefer an in-person group interview, a startup offering remote work may find a virtual interview format more suited to their needs.
What are the benefits of conducting a group interview?
Depending on the type of role a company is hiring for, group interviews can offer hiring managers some advantages compared to a traditional panel or one-on-one interview.
Reduce time to hire
Group interviews can be an efficient way to hire for more than one role at the same time, or when a company needs to fill a position quickly. By meeting multiple candidates simultaneously, you can significantly reduce one of the most time-intensive parts of the hiring process—scheduling and running interviews. This allows the HR department to optimize recruitment metrics like time to fill and time to hire.
Evaluate soft skills effectively
While all candidates will likely say they have the right soft skills for the role—it can sometimes be hard to evaluate these during an individual or panel interview. Incorporating group interview activities makes it easier to observe each candidate’s soft skills in action. For example, you could include a group activity that helps gauge each person’s interpersonal skills or leadership skills.
Assess candidates equally
Traditional interview processes can make it difficult for hiring managers to remember which candidate said what, especially if they’re relying on handwritten notes. Using strategies like interview scorecards can help—but group interviews also offer a good opportunity for interviewers to hear all candidates’ answers to the same question within a concentrated space of time. This can make it easier to score all candidates fairly and equitably.
When should you use a group interview?
This interview format is useful when you’re looking to hire multiple candidates or large numbers of employees at the same time. It’s commonly used in the hospitality, retail, and food service industries but can also be valuable for startups on an intensive recruitment drive.
Group interviews are also particularly valuable when hiring for roles where teamwork skills and interpersonal skills are pivotal to the job you’re hiring for, such as customer service or inside sales roles.
How to conduct an effective group interview
While all interviews need careful planning, some specific strategies should be used when planning group interviews to ensure the candidate experience isn’t negatively affected.
Inform applicants ahead of time
A group interview setting can create stressful situations for some interviewees, especially if they haven’t participated in an interview using this format before. Be sure to notify each group of candidates about the interview structure you’ll be using ahead of time. This will enable each candidate to prepare appropriately and put their best foot forward while also improving the candidate experience.
Have a clear plan for the interview
The hiring team needs to consider how to efficiently run group interviews to identify the most suitable job applicants. It’s important to create a clear plan with other panel members, deciding which team member will ask which questions. Nominating a spokesperson for the panel is also a good idea, whether that’s the hiring manager or a member of your Human Resources team. Consider how you’ll lead the conversation, direct relevant questions to individual candidates, and record their answers. For example, when asking group members individual questions during remote interviewing, you might ask everyone except the person speaking to turn their cameras off.
Use technology to accelerate hiring decisions
Interviewing, evaluating, and following up with many candidates can be time-consuming. Using modern interviewing technology that allows you to create video highlights of remote interviews and collaborate on hiring feedback with other interviewers can help you speed up the hiring process. When you have a large number of positions to fill, AI-powered technology can help you quickly uncover candidates’ skills and assess their fit for the role.
Planning for impactful group interviews
Group interviews can be a great way to build your team by bringing on multiple employees at the same time. But these interviews need to be handled thoughtfully to ensure you’ve created an inclusive interview process for all attendees. Taking a strategic approach to remote group interviews—and leveraging an Interview Intelligence platform like Clovers—can help add structure to an interview format that requires careful planning for the best results.