In my experience not many companies consider doing group interviews as a viable option as part of their recruitment strategy. When I ask them why I am frequently told that the thought of running a group interview, seems too hard to organise and I don’t have time, or the skills do run it. I can’t afford the cost involved in running a group interview etc, etc.
What I would argue is that they do not understand the value of running a group interview and they don’t have a process to follow, therefore it is completely out of their comfort zone.
I am not saying that all interviews should be group interviews, you probably would not do a group interview to hire a CEO or General Manager however, I am an advocate for group interviews vs a traditional one on one interview process, when you are recruiting for frontline service roles and you need the best possible person specification which means they need to be demonstrating:
Natural behaviours – like holding eye-contact and smiling.
Team and teamwork skills – how they interact with others.
Customer Service skills – behind the counter or on the telephone or behind the bar.
Leadership skills – there is always the opportunity to see who shows up as a leader within the team.
The value of a group interview, if planned and executed well – is simply to Observe a lot of people and one time!
To observe behaviour
To gain valuable insights into each candidate
To see teamwork in action To spot potential leaders
You can teach people great skills, but you can’t teach people to have a great personality, to have the right attitude and how to fit into your team. You have got to recruit that!
Open questions in an interview open up the conversation – the important word here being ‘conversation’.
When I am recruiting for my hospitality clients, for example, I don’t care if they have had previous hospitality experience, as long as they love serving people and being of service, I can train and upskill them for the other skills required.
I did a service-based group interview for a client recently and it went really well. My client was able to see that the value of this group interview was watching the candidates.
Observing how they serve.
Observing their natural behaviours like do they hold eye-contact, do they have a natural smile etc.
Observing how they participate.
To be successful, group interviews must be well planned and executed.
As with traditional one on one interview process’s it is important to have a group interview process to follow.
Here is the basic process:
Start with warm up activities, for example, talking to the person next to them to find out something about them, then sharing these findings with the group, sharing some customer research findings so they know why we do what we do, getting lots of interaction from them through this process.
Then running a customer service practice session where they all get to serve so they understand what’s required of them plus we see how they perform and how they take feedback.
They even have to serve food to a table of their colleagues and they get to taste some food and then sell that food to the group, that’s always one of the last activities they do, by this time they no longer think they are in an interview they are just involved in the training process.
At the same time, this is very important, leaders of the business are observing them throughout the session using a checklist to score them on critical areas, this starts from the moment they arrive – did they arrive on time?, how they interacted with staff on arrival?, how they greet on entry to the training room?, how they dress and finally observing the behaviours and participation in the session.
Once they have left, we then score each person, I always have two different leaders observe the same person, they normally observe 4-5 people each, I have had had as many as 30 in a session, that saves huge amount of time doing individual interviews. Not that you would interview 30 but now you get to see 30.
It’s important to note, we deliberately didn’t tell them how to dress – my client wrote to me and asked should we tell them how to dress? I said NO, I want to see what they decide to wear to an interview. I want to know, what are they thinking about when they prepare themselves for an interview.
For example, one guy was in shorts, we all thought that was a bit too casual when all staff in this upmarket venue wear white shirts and black trousers.
Let’s sum up the value
A group interview process allows the employer the opportunity to screen a number of candidates at one time, reducing the overall interview process and cost.
Group interviews are most effective when hiring for positions that require excellent people and customer service skills and will be taking care of your customers.
Group interviews are also effective when teamwork is an integral part of the job.
The group interview allows an employer to observe behaviours that are reflective of success on the job before the employer actually invests time and money into hiring a candidate.
If you would like to have a chat with me about how the 10 Major Steps to Successful Recruitment can support you in finding the Best Possible Person contact me I look forward to hearing from you.