Making the recruitment process as efficient as possible is a reasonable commercial objective for employers. One solution is to use group interviews during the early stages of recruitment.
When conducted successfully, group interviews can be an excellent method for eliciting the best performance from candidates. A group interview can increase hire quality while decreasing time-to-hire and cost-per-hire. But there are downsides to consider, too, meaning group interviews aren’t necessarily the best solution for every organisation or type of role.
In this guide for employers, we look at the advantages and disadvantages of group interviews.
Advantages of group interviews
Speed is one of the most evident benefits of group interviews. By doing group interviews, you can swiftly narrow down a big applicant pool. This is perfect if you need to evaluate hundreds of applicants.
2. Go beyond the CV
Due to the pace of the group interview process, you are able to examine a greater number of candidates in greater detail than you would otherwise. Without a group interview, you must be more selective based on a résumé because you cannot interview as many candidates. This could result in overlooking talented candidates whose resumes did not do them justice.
3. Evaluate team skills
Doing a group interview allows you to evaluate applicants’ inherent teamwork abilities. This is a vital talent that traditional one-on-one interviewing procedures fail to elicit. Everyone will claim to be an “excellent team player” throughout the interview. A group interview allows you to determine whether this is in fact the case.
4. Clear comparisons
A group interview facilitates easy comparisons between different candidates. This might help you determine exactly what your ideal candidate looks like and simplify the decision-making process.
5. Sell your organisation
Group interviews are a wonderful chance to promote your employer brand. Use the chance to tell prospective applicants as much as possible about yourself. Although the majority of candidates will not be hired, this is a terrific opportunity to acquire employer brand advocates.
6. Find the Best of the Best
Many individuals perform better in group interviews than in regular interviews. They are conscious that they are being actively compared to other applicants and will typically put their best foot forward. Far more so than in a 1:1 scenario. This is excellent news for both the employer and the candidate. Win-win for everyone.
7. Avoid interview bias
Frequently, numerous hiring supervisors do group interviews. This introduces objectivity to the process from the outset and enables you to make faster, simpler, and more objective hiring decisions before wasting anyone’s time.
8. Less stressful
That is, from the candidate’s standpoint. Traditional interview formats are difficult and high-pressure for many candidates. In the worst-case situation, this indicates that you are not seeing the candidate’s true potential.
Obviously, you want people who can handle stress, but interview stress is not always a reliable indicator. It would be like evaluating someone on their public speaking skills when you require them to meet tight project deadlines. Many forms of stress.
9. Evaluate communication abilities
This is strongly related to evaluating teamwork, but needs its own point. In a group interview scenario, it is much easier to determine how applicants communicate. This can be especially relevant if you are hiring for a managing position or scouting potential future managers.
10. See cultural fit
One of the greatest benefits of group interviews is the ability to observe a much wider spectrum of behaviour. Traditional interviews are conducted in a more formal, one-on-one environment, and they provide limited information. The breadth provided by the group interview enables you to make far more robust, well-informed conclusions regarding cultural compatibility.
A key benefit is observing the interaction between candidates in a competitive environment. Some candidates make it evident that, despite answering their questions exceptionally well, they would not be a good cultural fit for our organisation and are unlikely to be effective team players.
11. Action not words
A primary advantage of a group interview over an individual interview is the ability to observe behaviour rather than relying solely on what the candidate says.
While the majority of candidates would assert that they are good team players, a group interview might reveal individuals who lack collaboration skills. Walker proposes that group interviews include a problem-solving activity that requires applicants to collaborate as they would in a corporate setting.
12. Identifying future leaders
Depending on the type of personality you wish to hire, group interviews might be an excellent approach to swiftly evaluate each candidate. Group interviews might assist identify aspiring leaders, such as through candidates expressing their own opinions, as well as seeking those of others, listening with respect, and using all available facts to find a feasible solution. Group interviews can provide insight into how individuals respond to and treat others, how aware they are of their impact on others, how confident they are speaking up in unfamiliar (and possibly stressful) situations, and how eager and able they are to take the initiative.
It is vital to be aware of the dynamics between applicants – are there any individuals with a win-at-all-costs mentality or who interrupt or speak over others?
Disadvantages of group interviews
There is a lengthy list of benefits. Nonetheless, group interviews are still vastly underutilised. Why might this be the case?
Dog-eat-dog is not always the optimal strategy. The competitive nature of a group interview may bring out the best and the worst in individuals. You may be interviewing for the incorrect talents if the position you’re filling does not demand someone who thrives in a competitive setting.
Some positions, such as sales, lend themselves well to competitive group interviews, while others do not. The worst case scenario is that you intentionally discourage elite talent from working with you.
2. Overlook quiet candidates
The environment of a group interview is naturally slanted towards outgoing, forceful personalities. This could cause you to miss individuals who are more reserved yet equally skilled. Individuals that could have been great for your position might be eliminated during the interview process, which is not ideal for anyone.
3. More logistically demanding
Group interviews allow you to see more prospects in less time, but they require more time to plan. Typically, you will need multiple managers to ensure that everything goes smoothly and efficiently. This may be challenging to coordinate. It is more difficult to coordinate everyone’s calendars to find mutually available time than it is to plan interviews for a single manager.
While they may allow you to observe a larger number of interactions, behaviours and candidates, they typically prevent you from digging further. They emphasise breadth over depth.
The context of a group interview is not conducive to closeness or personal disclosures. This may leave you with the impression that you do not know any of the applicants any better than before they applied.
5. Lack of management
This is a manageable disadvantage, but it is still a disadvantage. The greater the number of participants in a group interview, the less manageable it becomes. Discussion might easily get off topic, leaving you with the impression that the interview was less effective or useful.
A group interview can, at worst, be a waste of everyone’s time. To be able to make equitable hiring decisions, it is necessary to ensure that everyone is maximising their potential.
6. Missing subtle – yet important – signs
The nature of a group interview makes it easy to overlook details. You are not focusing equally on each individual, which makes it easy to ignore vital indicators.
Some candidates will be clear-cut yes or no hiring, but there are also subtle indications that a candidate could be a wonderful fit or a nightmare job. The former is more perilous, as it could result in the exclusion of a potential corporate asset.
7. Tough to establish trust
Especially for client-facing positions, you need a candidate with natural rapport-building skills. In a group interview, it can be difficult to see these relational abilities. Hence, you may make employment judgements based on inaccurate or irrelevant information.
8. Deterring candidates
One of the greatest disadvantages of group interviews is that they may discourage candidates from interviewing with you. Despite the fact that traditional interviews are so commonplace as to be expected, candidates may decline to interview with a company that conducts group interviews.
You may believe that you don’t want candidates who are turned off by group interviews, which is acceptable for some positions. Probably true if you require individuals that are forceful, competitive, and flourish in a group setting.
Nonetheless, the market for hiring talent is competitive. Anything that discourages applicants from applying or attending interviews with you may not be a wise decision.
9. Extroverts stealing the spotlight
Group interviews tend to favour extroverts, and situations involving two or more candidates fighting for one position can be dominated by individuals with dominant personalities. Walker cautions against overlooking individuals with exceptional teamwork or problem-solving abilities but lack the confidence to speak up in an artificial group setting.
10. Only applicable to particular roles
Employers should avoid using group interviews for every position. While group interviews are effective, for example, for customer service positions, organisations with limited time should avoid using them for all vacancies.
11. The selection panel must be trained to manage the interviews
Although the actual interview time may be shorter than if candidates were interviewed individually, the planning and preparation time required for a group interview might be substantial. Conducting an interview with numerous personalities can be challenging, and your panel of interviewers must be adept at handling a group of competitive candidates.
Tips for effective group interviews
Group interviews can be incredibly productive, but they also have their drawbacks. One test is essential when considering whether to use group interviews as part of your hiring process. You must evaluate the required abilities for your position and then determine whether group interviews are an effective technique of assessing those skills. Start with the position you wish to fill, and then build the interview process accordingly. Like with any hiring method, the more effectively you can assess the necessary talents, the better hires you will make.
If you do opt to use group interviews, best practice tips include:
- Employ group interviews exclusively for positions where teamwork and collaborative problem-solving are essential for success.
- Employ a group interview as part of your hiring strategy, but not as the only step.
- Ensure that your panel has the ability to deal with multiple, conflicting personalities.
- Arrange the framework of the interview with care so that each candidate has an equal opportunity to share their abilities and expertise.
Advantages and disadvantages of group interviews FAQs
What are the advantages of using group interviews?
Group interviews can allow the recruiter to compare candidates 'side-by-side' in the same environment, with stronger candidates usually standing out. They can also save on time and cost by holding fewer interviews.
What is the primary disadvantage of a group interview?
Several interviewers are required for group interviews so that all candidates can be observed closely. And interviewers must know what they're looking for, what questions to ask, and how to measure the candidate's performance.
What are the limitations of group interviews?
Group interviews can be restrictive since the questions and exercises will be preplanned. You may also find that certain candidates may 'overpower' others, meaning others struggle to showcase themselves.
Last updated: 15 February 2023