Group interviews

Group interviews can be a great stage one interview

First published on Thursday, Jun 04, 2020

Last updated on Thursday, Nov 04, 2021

A group interview is just as it sounds: you invite multiple applicants to be interviewed at the same time. It’s challenging for your candidates – and it can be challenging for your interviewing panel as well.

(Don’t confuse group interviews with panel interviews, where a panel of selectors interviews one candidate.)

Group interviews can bring something fresh to the hiring process, but are they right for your next recruitment drive? To decide, you’ll need to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages.

Pro: Save time and widen the pool

One of the biggest benefits of a group interview is how quick it is. Instead of having to devote a whole day to meet each applicant one by one, you talk to them all in one shorter session.

Alternatively, you could spend the same amount of time and meet a much bigger pool of candidates. If you’re sifting through lots of applications, what better way to shortlist than to meet them all in person?

Con: Less time to get to know individual candidates

The downside to the group interview’s time-efficient process is that you have less time to talk to each candidate. If you have a really strong shortlist of candidates and enough time to meet them all, traditional interviews might still be the best option.

Pro: The cream rises to the top

Are you a believer in that old saying, “talent always shines through”? In a group interview, you’ll have a bunch of candidates with limited time to make their strengths known. They’ll be in direct competition for your attention. This could mean that the strongest personalities will command the room, while weaker candidates fade into the background.

Skills and qualities that could emerge in group interviews include leadership, competitiveness, communication, and assertiveness.

Con: Not every personality type will shine

Another take is that the loudest applicants may dominate your group interviews – and they won’t necessarily be the best people for the job.

Group interviews may therefore be most suitable when recruiting for roles that require alpha-type personalities, such as sales or management roles.

Pro: You can compare applicants side by side

With traditional interviews, you can only compare candidates by using your notes and memory of the event – which might not be all that reliable.

In a group interview, you can hear each candidate’s answer to your questions in the same session. You can also see how candidates interact with each other, in a high-pressure setting. It’s a great way to compare and evaluate their relative strengths.

Con: Your interview panel might need new skills

It’s easy to say group interviews enable you to assess multiple candidates at once. Actually conducting the interview might be a little trickier!

Your selectors will need strong interviewing skills if they’re to lead a group of competing applicants – consider using a panel, so they aren’t completely outnumbered. And make sure you plan the structure of the interview carefully, so that each candidate has equal opportunity to share their skills and experience.

Share this article

Have a question?

Ask away, we’ve got lightning fast answers for UK business owners and employers powered by qualified experts.

More on job interviews

pen on paper

How to plan an interview

The job interview remains the most popular assessment method for job applicants, in just about every sector. Even when employers use assessment days ...

Read more about How to plan an interview
colleague interview

The Most Common HR Interview Questions

HR screening interviews are a great way for HR to take the first crucial steps in a business’ recruitment process. They help you to find out what a ...

Read more about The Most Common HR Interview Questions