Why conduct a group interview
Group interviews are time-saving as they allow you to simultaneously evaluate multiple candidates as part of the interview process. They’re also helpful because they let you test candidates for their teamwork, communication and stress management skills.
Consider conducting a group interview when you:
- are hiring for roles where interaction and collaboration are important
- are screening equally qualified candidates
- are looking for more than one candidates to fill similar positions
- want to cover seasonal hiring needs on a tight deadline
During individual interviews, you assess candidates’ answers. But, in group interviews, you have also the chance to test how candidates react to other participants’ answers and how they behave in a team environment. You can identify candidates who:
- are good listeners
- use their persuasive skills effectively
- stand out from the rest with their positive personality
Sample group interview questions to ask candidates
- Briefly describe your career history and explain how you’d like to evolve professionally.
- What did you find attractive about the job ad? What makes you want to work with our company?
- Why would you be a good fit for this role? How will you contribute to the company’s goals?
- What’s your biggest professional achievement so far?
Interview questions to assess a group activity
- What was your contribution to the team?
- In your opinion, what are the main reasons you reached/didn’t reach your team goal?
- How similar or different is the approach you followed (e.g. the way you delegated tasks) to other team projects you’ve participated in? Describe an example where you had to solve a problem on a very tight deadline.
- Given more resources and/or time, what would you have done differently?
Tips to conduct an effective group interview
- Inform candidates about the interview format early on, so that they have enough time to prepare themselves. Also, let them know of the estimated duration and the name(s) of the interviewer(s).
- The group interview process can be stressful for participants. Start with a brief presentation of the company and explain the process. Then, break the ice by asking candidates to introduce themselves. At this point, you can keep the discussion casual, to make everyone feel comfortable. Don’t forget to congratulate candidates for moving forward from the resume screening phase.
- Choose questions that require unique answers, so that candidates are not influenced by each other. For example: “How will your experience help you in this role?” Questions with an obvious right or wrong answer may give an advantage to people who answer later in the interview, as they will have heard the first contestants’ way of thinking.
- For group interview activities, consider breaking into smaller groups that are assigned a team activity, like solve a riddle, make a presentation or build something out of unconventional material. Don’t focus on the results, but watch how candidates collaborate with each other, prioritize tasks and reach decisions.
- Extroverted candidates are likely to steal a shy participant’s thunder. Make sure to give each candidate enough time to express themselves. But, keep in mind that candidates who lack confidence mightn’t be suitable for roles that require interaction with customers (like salespeople.)
- Before the end of the group interview, prompt candidates to ask any questions they may have. Then, thank all participants for their time and let them know of next steps.
- Lack of interest. Depending on the number of participants, each candidate might have to wait several minutes before they’re asked a question. If you notice signs of boredom (e.g. they’re yawning or checking their phones), they mightn’t be very interested in the process and the job.
- Arrogance. Candidates will want to make a good impression, especially in front of their competitors. But, if they try to overshadow other candidates by interrupting them or being rude, that’s an indicator they’re not good team players.
- Aggressive behavior. Team activities help rule out rude and “know-it-all” candidates. Leadership abilities are a good sign, but only if the candidate is respectful toward other people’s opinions.
- Poor interaction skills. Check candidates’ reactions when other people are talking and during breaks. Are they polite and friendly? If they’re distant or subtly laugh when someone gives an unusual answer, they probably lack interpersonal skills.
- Low participation. Not all people are born leaders. But, candidates who step back during the team activity and let others make all the calls might be more passive on the job, as well.