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When would an employer use a group interview technique?

Group interviews have become increasingly popular among employers. To determine if a group interview is right for the organization, an employer needs to understand the basic group interview techniques, the benefits associated with the group interview and the best time to use a group interview. A group interview is an interview technique in which several candidates are interviewed simultaneously for similar positions. To be successful, group interviews must be well planned and executed. The plan also needs to outline the company objectives and purpose for using a group interview strategy.

Generally, the interviewer poses hypothetical problems to the group, as well as provides group activities that require the candidates to work as a team to find a solution. This approach allows the interviewer to observe the candidates’ interactions with each other and how well they work as a team. Group questions allow an interviewer to observe the candidates’ “soft skills” such as teamwork, problem-solving and interpersonal communication. Additionally, the interviewer also incorporates individual questions to each candidate. The use of both group questions and individual questions not only allows the candidates to articulate how they would handle possible situations, but also allows the employer to see each candidate in action.

Group interviews are best used by employers that need to find a large number of employees quickly—for example, start-up companies that need a large number of employees to open the business. This technique allows the employer the opportunity to screen a number of candidates at one time, reducing the interview process. Group interviews are most effective when hiring for positions that require excellent people skills, especially when the job regularly deals with consumers or the public. Group interviews are also effective when teamwork is an integral part of the job. The group interview allows an employer to observe behaviors that are reflective of success on the job before the employer actually invests time and money into hiring a candidate.

Interviewing multiple candidates one-on-one may cause the interviewer to blur and intertwine the candidates’ knowledge and experience so that the ideal candidate may not be selected. Group interviews certainly save time, and could reduce turnover, which saves the organization money too. Understanding the company’s objectives and determining if group interviews are right for the employer could be a successful technique if used in certain situations, or to gain insight on specific behaviors that are more effectively visible during active involvement in a group setting or activity.


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