7 Tips for Better Group Interviews

Article by Robert Walters

You're expanding the department and need to fill an entire sales division – fast! You don't have time for a long, drawn-out decision-making process. What should you do? This is a prime example of when group interviewing can save the day.

Gathering key decision-makers to interview multiple candidates at once can be a very advantageous approach, as it leads to a quicker consensus regarding which candidates would be a good fit for the position.

This is not to say that group interviews are ideal for every situation. However, they can be very beneficial if you:

are trying to fill multiple roles;

want to screen a large number of applicants;

need to fill a role within a specific time period;

or want to assess how candidates respond to stress.

Now, before you implement this new interview method, here are a few tips you should keep in mind when restructuring the interview process to incorporate group interviews:

1. Let the Candidates Know

One of the most crucial steps in this process is informing the candidates. Because many people find group interviews intimidating and a little scary, it is best to let the candidates know as soon as possible in order to give them a chance to thoroughly prepare for the group setting.

2. Plan It Out

You want to be prepared for the group interviews. Plan ahead by compiling a list of questions that will encourage an open discussion. This way, you can spot which candidates communicate clearly and professionally. Problem-solving questions are also a great way to gain insight into how the candidates will approach issues in the workplace.

3. Introduce the Interviewers

It's best to conduct a group interview with multiple interviewers. This will ensure all the applicants are equally observed. If you try to handle it all yourself, you may potentially overlook a strong candidate.

Introduce each interviewer to the applicants. Share information about the interviewer's position, how they would work with candidates if hired, and any other information that may be relevant to the roles the candidates are vying for.

4. Allow Candidates to Introduce Themselves

Start the interview off by asking each candidate to introduce themselves. This will give everyone a chance to familiarize themselves with the group and gain confidence among their peers. Don't just ask for names and professional backgrounds; ask questions that will allow candidates to show off their personalities, like "What is your ideal vacation?" or "Where is your favorite place in the world?"

5. Differentiate Your Questions

Some questions will inevitably be the same for each interviewee, but you should try to ask one to two unique questions per candidate. Since many questions will have been answered 2-3 times before some candidates even get a chance to share their thoughts, they may not have the best idea to share or someone may have already said what they were thinking. By asking each candidate 1-2 unique questions, you will ensure that no applicants are disadvantaged simply because they didn't speak fast enough.

6. Encourage Questions

Allot time for candidates to ask their own questions. The candidates who pose good follow-up questions indicate they prepared for the interview and did their due diligence despite the group setting. These will be candidates to consider moving forward with.

7. Take Notes

You really liked Janet – or was her name Jenny?

Taking notes is imperative when conducting group interviews. Otherwise, you may call the wrong person back for a follow-up interview. Be sure to write the candidates' names down, and consider making a key – e.g., one star means you liked a candidate, two stars mean you loved them. This way, no one's feelings will get hurt if someone glances at your sheet, nor will you run into any HR issues when writing the description of the person to help you remember.

A version of this article originally appeared on 42Hire.com.

Robert Walters is a global recruitment consultancy. The San Francisco office works with tech startups to place sought-after professionals. Connect on Twitter: @RobertWaltersSF.