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Group interviews are becoming increasingly popular for employers to assess a larger pool of candidates in a shorter amount of time. However, group interviews can be intimidating for potential candidates, and employers need to understand both the pros and the cons of this type of interview. In addition, it’s essential to follow best practices when conducting a group interview to ensure an effective and efficient screening process. This article will provide a detailed overview of the pros and cons of group interviewing as well as tips and advice on best practices. 

What is a group interview? 

A group interview is a type of interview where multiple candidates are interviewed at the same time and in the same location. Interviewers can either split the candidates into separate groups or have them sit in one large group. There are both advantages and disadvantages to conducting a group interview. A group interview can be done in several ways, but there are two main types of group interviews:  

Situational interviewing and integrated interviewing. Situational interviews involve an interviewer asking one candidate a question while the other candidates in the group observe. Integrated interviews involve all candidates in the group answering the same question. 

Pros of group interviews 

Fast and efficient the biggest advantage of group interviews is that they allow employers to conduct many interviews in one sitting. This allows employers to assess a higher number of candidates in a shorter amount of time, which is especially beneficial when hiring for many roles such as a summer internship program.  

No interviewers are present. Different from a panel interview, where a select number of interviewers ask questions to the candidates, the interviewers in a group interview are not present during the candidates’ answers. This can be beneficial in several ways, such as allowing candidates to be themselves or relax more or giving candidates an advantage if they are shy or introverted.  

No notetaking. Employers don’t need to take notes during a group interview, which can be helpful for those conducting the interview or for employers working to keep their desks clean and organized. 

Cons of group interviews 

Skill-level differences One of the main challenges of group interviews is that it’s difficult to balance the skill level of all candidates in the group. This can be especially challenging when hiring for several different roles or when there is a wide range of skill levels among applicants.  

Lack of personal connection the most significant con of conducting group interviews is that it can be difficult for candidates to build a personal connection with the interviewer(s) since they are in a group setting and are not interviewed one-on-one. This can be detrimental to the candidate’s experience, especially if they are interested in working for the company.  

Lack of interviewer feedback This is like the lack of personal connection, but it also includes a lack of feedback after the interview. Candidates are not able to receive specific and constructive feedback on their interview performance, which helps improve for future interviews. 

Tips and best practices for conducting a group interview 

Make the process clear from the start It is important to make clear from the start of the group interview process that the candidates will be interviewed as a group. This can be done in several ways, including through a written invite, the online recruiting system, or the interviewer(s) introducing themselves and the process.  

Be consistent in the interview process Be consistent in the interview process across all group interviews and pay extra attention to the details such as seating arrangement and the order in which candidates are interviewed. This can help ensure that each candidate receives the same experience, regardless of the other candidates in their group.  

Assist interviewers in staying on track When conducting a group interview, it can be easy for the interviewers to veer off course, especially if they are not experienced in conducting group interviews. Employers can help their interviewers stay focused on the purpose of the group interview by providing a clear outline of the steps in the interview process and by providing questions for interviewers to ask.  

Keep interviewers on track Even though employers should assist their interviewers by providing an outline for the group interview process and questions to ask, the interviewers must stay focused and keep the interview on track. This can help ensure that all candidates are interviewed at the same pace and that the entire process is efficient. 

Questions to ask during a group interview 

There are many questions employers can ask their candidates during a group interview. Some employers choose to ask one or two questions to all candidates while others may choose to ask different questions to each candidate. Some employers choose to ask open-ended questions, while others may ask specific questions. It is important to choose the questions carefully and in advance.  

The types of questions employers ask during a group interview can vary greatly. Some employers may choose to ask questions that are situational or behavioral; others may simply ask about a candidate’s background. Employers can also choose to ask specific questions about their company and the role they are hiring for. Whatever questions employers choose to ask, they should be prepared in advance and have a clear purpose for each. 

Preparing and training interviewers 

Employers need to prepare for group interviews by creating a plan for the interview process, including the type of questions to ask, the order in which they are asked, and the amount of time dedicated to each question. Employers can also create guidelines and criteria for interviewers to follow when conducting interviews, such as ensuring a set number of candidates per interviewer, ensuring that candidates sit beside each other, and providing candidates with specific instructions.  

An important part of preparing for group interviews is training interviewers on how to conduct interviews in a group setting. This can include training on the process, types of questions to ask, and tips on how to keep the interview on track. Employers can also provide interviewers with a sample interview that they can use as a guideline while they are interviewing candidates. 

Follow-up after the group interview 

Follow-up after the group interview is just as important as preparing for it. Employers can follow up in several ways depending on the type of interview process and the type of candidates they are interviewing. When interviewing for many candidates for a summer internship program, for example, it can be helpful to have a recruiter follow up with each candidate after the interview.  

This can be done in person or over the phone, and it can be as simple as a quick confirmation that the candidate made it to the interview, followed by a brief prompt to let the candidate know that an email with the next steps in the process will be sent within the next 24 hours. When interviewing a smaller number of candidates, employers can choose to follow up with each candidate individually. This can be done by sending all candidates an email thanking them for their time, followed by a brief prompt to let them know that an email with the next steps in the process will be sent within the next 24 hours. 

Evaluating the results of a group interview 

Evaluating the results of a group interview is like evaluating the results of a traditional interview. Employers can use the same evaluation techniques, such as ranking candidates based on their interview performance and/or conducting an interview retreat or focus group with hiring managers.  

Employers can also consider the other candidates in a candidate’s group as references, although this is less common. When evaluating the results of a group interview, employers must consider both the group as a whole and everyone within the group. Employers can also evaluate the results of a group interview based on the number and quality of candidates who are invited back for a follow-up interview. 

Conclusion 

Group interviews are becoming increasingly popular for employers to assess a larger pool of candidates in a shorter amount of time. However, group interviews can be intimidating for potential candidates, and employers need to understand both the pros and the cons of this type of interview.  

In addition, it’s essential to follow best practices when conducting a group interview to ensure an effective and efficient screening process. This article provides a detailed overview of the pros and cons of group interviewing as well as tips and advice on best practices.