group interview

Group Interviews

Interviewing students for entry-level positions can be a bit tricky! Recruiters and hiring managers often rely on behavioural interview questions to screen candidates. How do students provide examples from their past work experience when they don’t have any?

Often when candidates and interviewers think of the group interview process, they imagine a group of 5-10 applicants sitting in a circle. The interviewer asks questions and only the first few folks to respond get their voice heard. Group interviews have been given a bad rep as they don’t really allow the interviewer to dive deep down and really understand a candidate’s employment history, competencies, and skill set; or, the ability to just get to know them. It is difficult to probe for additional information when you have so many other candidates to question all in one session. How can you learn enough about a candidate when there are so many in the room at once?

Then there are others who flash back to the movie The Internship starring Vince Vaughan and Owen Wilson. They participate in competitive challenges and are successful in obtaining an Intern position at Google. This is the type of group interview that can be successful with the student population. It doesn’t have to be as large scale as the movie made it out to be; but, it can lead to a wonderful experience for both the company and the candidates.

Here are the top 8 reasons why you should be using a group interview format for student hiring.


1. Ability To Meet Several Candidates At Once #TIMESAVER!

It can be a cumbersome process for companies that hire for several student positions. Especially when they are all different roles. Hosting group interview sessions can be a time saver for the employer to weed out several candidates. You can even invite candidates applying for different roles within your organization to the same group interview.

2. Get To Know Them

Add a social opportunity at the beginning or end of the group interview or both! This can help you determine their ability to network and engage socially. For some jobs, like sales, this is an important skill!

3. Present Your Company Brand and Your Employment Brand

When you interview candidates one at a time, you are not likely going to show them a powerpoint presentation or take the time to show them your company video. In a group session, this seems more of a fit. Remember that regardless of your company being B2B or B2C, that all candidates could be potential customers in the future. You want to give them a great experience! Not only do you want to show them what a great place it is to work, but also what a great company you are to buy from. The two really go hand in hand.

4. Students Lacking Interview Skills and Experience May Be Less Nervous

Interviews can be a daunting experience for anyone.  For students and recent graduates who are new to the game, this can cause a lot of anxiety and nervousness.  A group interview can create a more serene environment where they feel comfortable. Sometimes too comfortable -see #7.

Hold the phone – what about all the introverts in the room? Don’t be surprised that introverts shine when you start breaking candidates into smaller groups to work on various exercises. You will notice that they come out of their shells and are not nervous when you give them actual tasks to complete in a group setting. They may not present on behalf of the group, but they are equally engaged.

5. Experience Isn’t Relevant – Create  Competency Based Exercises

Since it is hard to evaluate experience with this demographic of candidates, the best way to evaluate them is by coming up with exercises that test their competencies. Before creating the exercises, ask yourself what are the key competencies for the job(s) and also for your organization.

6. Evaluate Skills As They Are Demonstrated

You know the exercises I just mentioned, well as they are completing them in real time you can evaluate how they are doing! Don’t just wing it, know and understand what you are testing and why. Be sure to train the “interviewers” on what to look for and what the exercises should unravel in the candidates. Whether you are testing a specific knowledge base or a competency.

7. Candidates Can Show True Colours

You will find in group interviews, candidates get comfortable – sometimes too comfortable. This can lead to slip ups! They forget they are in an interview and could very easily say something nasty to another candidate, swear, or have inappropriate conversations. It happens! This is a quick way to weed out some bad eggs that can lead to unfavourable work environments.

8. An Abundance of Feedback

You cannot possibly run a group interview with just one person which creates the opportunity to invite a panel. Involve a team of interviewers in the hiring process without scaring candidates the way a traditional panel interview would. Your current employees are great assets through this type of process. Not only will they obtain insight on the candidates and provide the decision makers with feedback, you are also giving them the opportunity to develop themselves by engaging them in the process. You are also more likely to gain their buy-in when the new hire comes on board as they have already built a relationship with them.

Once you have your short list of candidates from the group interview session(s), you can follow-up with a one-on-one if required.

Need help developing a group interview? ReRouting can help you with that. Link Me To the Contact Form!

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