TalentTip #1

Conducting Great Group Interviews

Well, hello there TalentSeekers!

I'm Ian and welcome to TalentTips, our blog posts and articles to support you in your recruitment process and ultimately create happier workplaces.

Today we are going to discuss in a little more detail how to run a successful Group Interview.

Group Interviews are one of my favourite recruitment tools when building a team from scratch or filling multiple positions as they allow you to truly see the personalities of your candidates and how they interact in new settings, groups settings and under pressure. All very valuable qualities I am sure we can agree.

Small disclaimer, I haven't got any formal HR qualifications. However, my passion for people and all my knowledge comes directly from the school of life. I'm hoping that some of the things I've learnt, seen, tried, experienced and heard of, can help you.

So, let's start discovering!

The Group Interview process is excellent for entry-level positions, customer-focused roles or a position where you know there’s going to be a high volume of applicants. 

Now, I know Group Interviews are challenging for applicants, but they are so much better for your time, and when done right, you can weed out the Front Runners in your TalentPool in no time at all.

Besides, you give so many more people exposure to your business and the interviewing process, which will benefit them. In fact, I remember one young lady telling me that it was the first time she’d ever even gotten a response for an interview, and how grateful and happy she was for the experience. So, the right candidates will see merit in the exercise, and they are the people you want in your team.

In another TalentTip I discuss inviting every applicant to the second stage of the recruitment process by completing a simple job application questionnaire. Completing the application can be an automatic qualification to the third stage – The Group Interview.

Why have so many stages? Well, this is the first stage that requires any real output of your time, but you have gained so much insight and knowledge on your TalentPool.

The other thing to consider is that having more stages to your application process can actually create excitement and a sense of exclusivity amongst your candidates. Something that is harder to achieve often is appreciated more so selling this kind of value in your brand and business upfront can only encourage good things from your TalentPool.

Let’s get into the nuts and bolts. Here’s how I would run them:

  1. Time Slots: Offer the candidates 2-3 time slots. Pick these wisely, cater to people who are still working, studying or may have family commitments. TIP: If you send out a job application questionnaire, include a question about the most appropriate time for them to attend a group interview / work availability for them to nominate. That way you don't have to chase this up later.
  2. Environment: Ensure your set up is right, create a friendly environment for everyone to gather and get comfortable. Maybe some background music, coffee & tea, snacks? Anything to help them feel relaxed and valued. You will also need a breakout room for some private one-on-one chats. TIP: You are not only interviewing them; they are most likely interviewing you. Let them walk away thinking that yours is a company they want to work for!
  3. Support: Invite 2- 3 colleagues and/or staff that will be working directly with the successful candidate to support you in the process and provide you with independent feedback. Create a simple scorecard for them to use and make sure they don't discuss with each other. Non-biased individual feedback is excellent. Tip: Sneaky, but sometimes I get a colleague to pretend to be an applicant so they can provide some behind the scenes feedback. 
  4. Be organised: Have a set plan or schedule and stick to it. Remember the idea here is to meet and see as many people as possible in the least amount of your time. Tip: Keep it to less than 90minutes in total, aiming ideally for around 60minutes. 
  5. Start on time. If a candidate turns up late, I usually say 'maybe next time'. Sends a clear message to everyone attending that everyone's time is important to you and your customers. 
  6. Introduction: Introduce yourself, your company, what positions are on offer and the expectations of your team. TIP: I usually give anyone who doesn't see a role they like or feel they are a fit, an opportunity to leave. 
  7. Talent Intro:  Ask everyone to stand up and introduce themselves in 60 seconds. Sometimes, so you get the sort of introduction you’re looking for you can pre-set 2-3 questions. Tip: If you want to measure their preparation, send the questions in the invite, if you prefer to see how they think on their feet, give them questions at the start of the group interview or throw an unplanned curve ball question in at the end to see what their ‘unscripted’ responses are like as well. Also, either ask who would like to go first (great to test confidence) or start at one end of the room and work your way around.
  8. Group Activity: My next step is to get split them into groups and get them to plan an activity or solve a problem. This is a great time to sit back and observe the group and take notes. Ask them to report back as a group on their ideas. This is also another opportunity to gauge interactions, leadership, and respect. Watch the group during presentations and while feedback is being given and observe body language and facial expressions, this is a great way to judge how they will listen to and respect colleagues.
  9. One-on-Ones: This is my final stage of the group interview process. Have a private space set up and allow every candidate 2-minutes to ask you any questions they may still have. Tip: If it's a big group, get a colleague to run one-on-one's as well. Tip: Always allow the first person who turned up, to go first, another subtle way to send a perfect message about punctuality. Another Little Tip: Let the candidate do the talking unless you have something particular to ask. 
  10. Review: Before you go, quickly gather everyone's scorecards and discuss any potential standouts, which you may wish to take further into the interview process or offer a job.
  11. Wrap Up: Not required, but a great way to show them the type of company you are so be sure to follow up with all attendees and let them know if they were successful or not. No one likes to wait and wait, even though you probably don't want the unsuccessful email, it's another great chance to show them respect and value for their time. Trust me, they will talk you up to their friends, and that friend may be the perfect Talent for next time. 

If you give this a go or currently have this as part of your application process, please reach out and let us know how it went. We'd love to hear your feedback and success stories.