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11 Questions to Host an Amazing Group Interview

recruiter hosting a group interview

When time is tight, a group interview may be key. Whether you need to hire quickly or want to create an environment that brings out competitive or leadership traits in candidates, group interviews can serve as a good way of assessing them.

But what is a group interview, what sort of questions should interviewers ask during a group interview and are they really that effective? In this article, we answer these questions and more.

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What is a Group Interview?

group interview typically consists of multiple candidates interviewing with a single hiring manager, or multiple hiring managers/stakeholders interviewing a single candidate. Essentially, a group interview is a job interview with an expanded participants list.

There are a handful of types of group interviews, though. The first, also known as a panel interview, is when a group of interviewers ask questions of a single candidate.

The second type has two key variations:

  • A single person interviews a group of candidates together at the same time.

  • Multiple interviewers (a panel) ask questions of a group of candidates.

In a panel interview, the interviewers usually include a representative from HR, the hiring manager and one or more members of the team the successful candidate will join. They may also include the boss’s boss, particularly if the interview is for a senior role.

What is the Purpose of a Group Interview?

Group interviews are ideal when you want to assess multiple candidates simultaneously to make it easier to compare them, or when you want to see how candidates perform in a competitive environment.

Group interviews are just one of many interview types. Alternative approaches may be used to:

Regardless of what type of interview you conduct, however, you should always make sure you have a great interview structure in place.

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What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Group Interviews?

Let’s open up the discussion a bit more and explore some of the pros and cons when it comes to hosting group interviews…

AdvantagesDisadvantages
Saving time by interviewing multiple candidates simultaneously. Not as much time to get to know candidates individually.
They allow for a diverse collection of interviewer perspectives. It May take longer to arrange the interview – so be prepared for delays.
An efficient way to introduce job seekers to everyone they may work with. More planning to get everyone together, organised and ready to ask questions (and then de-brief following)
They make it easier to compare candidates immediately. You need people with strong interviewing skills to sit on the panel.
They help to see if people will match your corporate culture. Group interviews tend to favour dominant characters who stand out in this kind of scenario.
They give you a hint as to how candidates work in groups. The increased pressure of group interviews may affect candidate behaviour.
Group interviews show how candidates perform under pressure. Group interviews can be even more stressful than standard interviews for candidates.
May be beneficial when looking for traits like leadership and assertiveness. The sequence in which you ask questions may restrict candidates’ ability to answer them.

What are Some Great Group Interview Questions?

Great group interview questions assess a candidate’s self-perception, allow you to get to know them, test how well they’ve prepared for the interview and provide a sense of whether their skillsets and character would make them a suitable candidate.

In the section below, we cover the general area they assess, some example questions and what interviewers should expect to hear from a candidate when they answer…

Measuring a Candidate’s Self-Perception

How would your colleagues describe you? This question shows whether candidates are self-aware and also shows how they interact with others. Candidates’ answers should match or enhance their CV/job application. Watch their body language as they answer this question, as you may be able to tell whether they’re telling the truth or exaggerating. Their emotional response as they answer this question may also indicate how well or badly they tend to work with others.

How would you describe yourself? This somewhat self-promotional question allows candidates to show how their personality complements their skill set, what their passions/interests are outside of work – and how these relate to the job they want.

You’re looking for a healthy balance of ego and self-reflection here. A good candidate will describe themselves in a way that fits with the role you’re hiring for. You’re also looking for leadership ability, any evidence that they demonstrate commitment and dedication, and any warning signs that would make them less than ideal for the job.

How has your experience prepared you for this role? This is a fairly standard interview question. Candidates must be able to demonstrate a match between their CV, job application information and relevant experience – both in other jobs and in their personal life. Interesting answers may reveal life experience that enhances their ability to do the job.

In 30 seconds, tell us about your previous experience and career goals. This question requires candidates to think on their feet, be concise, show a logical progression between past, present and future, and demonstrate the relevance of their experience to the job requirements.

Assessing Preparation

How do your core values fit with our company’s culture? This question doesn’t just assess whether a candidate matches your culture, it also allows you to test whether they’ve done their homework about your company and your culture.

Why do you want this job? The answer to this question may reveal their career aspirations. You’re looking for evidence that they will enjoy working for you (which means they’re likely to stay longer). You’re also looking for signs that they’ve considered why their skill set matches the job expectations, and why their personality aligns with your brand.

Tell us about something interesting you’ve discovered about our company? This is a great opportunity to test their level of preparation. Advanced candidates will be able to apply this learning and relate it to their personal experiences. Ideal candidates may be able to connect their knowledge (homework), with the job requirements and their personal experience.

What are the essential skills for this position? This question is fairly self-explanatory. Anyone who has read the job spec should be able to answer it. More interesting candidates will be able to go beyond the job spec. You’re looking for a good match between the job role and the candidate’s level of curiosity, ability to go further, and attitude.

For example, you might not expect someone doing an entry-level job to do more than list the skills on the job advert. On the other hand, you may expect an inspired knowledge worker to elaborate on the skills you’ve listed and explain why they think they are, or aren’t, essential, and describe how their skill profile fits your expectations.

Candidate’s Collaboration Skills

How do you work in a team? This question is particularly interesting in group interviews because their answer may or may not align with their behaviour. If in doubt, trust their actions rather than their words when they answer this question.

How do you deal with stressful or challenging situations? Again, look for a match or mismatch between how they handle the group interview and what they say about how they cope with these situations. Actions speak louder than words in this case.

How will your strengths benefit our company? This may be a tricky question for some candidates to answer as it requires candidates to consider and compare two things: 1) their strengths, 2) what the company needs from them. It may take candidates a bit longer to answer this question but good interviewees will be able to imagine themselves as if they were already in the role and answer accordingly. This is a ‘bigger picture’ kind of question.

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 Best Practices When Conducting Group Interviews

In group interviews, as in life, success is a product of preparation. Here are three steps you can take to ensure group interviews are more likely to run smoothly so you can find the best possible candidate…

Before the interview: Tell the candidates well in advance so they can prepare for the group format. Prepare the interviewers and meet with them so everyone agrees on what you’re looking for and knows how the sessions will run. Make sure everyone knows who will ask which questions, and when.

During the interview: Interviewers should introduce themselves, the job they do and their role during the interview. They should also take turns asking questions. They can potentially ask each interviewee the same question or choose a different question for each candidate.

After the interview: Schedule a time immediately after the interview to discuss the candidates and make decisions while the interviews are fresh in everyone’s minds. Sometimes, group interviews are also a good starting point to get a general opinion, but the group might then break out into brief individual interviews, so each interviewee gets a chance to show their best self in a one-on-one scenario.

Are Group Interviews Truly Effective?

If you need multiple interviewees to assess a candidate then group interviews can be effective, as long as they are well prepared and the responses are gathered immediately.

If you’re wanting to create a stressful or competitive interview environment, then they can also be a great way to see which candidates thrive in these environments.

However, if you want to get to know a candidate’s personality in a way that builds trust and creates a great candidate experience then group interviews might not be the best way to go.

It’s certainly true that hiring new employees can be time-consuming. Rather than compromising on your ability to find the right match by interviewing multiple candidates at once, it may just be better to streamline your hiring processes by booking a demo with Personio today.

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