As a final evaluation step for a top candidate, however, group
interviews can be very beneficial. They are a great opportunity to
see how a candidate interacts and fits in with their potential
co-workers. Amanda Morgan, the Senior Marketing Manager at Vyond, says that “Before anyone is hired at
Vyond, they go through at least three 30-minute group interviews
with people from various departments. It is invaluable to have this
kind of team feedback from the people who will be working
cross-functionally with the potential new hire.”
Roles that involve customer relations, sales, or human resources are
all great opportunities for group interviews because these functions
often rely heavily on building relationships and skilled
interpersonal interactions. A panel interview can be a good tool for
testing problem-solving and interpersonal skills required in a role.
However, positions that do not require employees to interact with
others regularly may not benefit from a group interview; in fact,
conducting one might be detrimental. Chris Lake, Head of Marketing
at Vestd, said that group interviews can be “tough
for people who are more introverted than others, and it might not be
the right way to conduct an interview for certain roles (e.g.
non-customer facing positions).”
2. Pick the panel carefully
Once you've committed to using a group interview as part of your
process, consider the makeup of the panel that will conduct the
interview. You want to pick a team of people who will give the most
nuanced evaluation, allowing you to leverage different perspectives
to assess the candidate.
Don't go overboard here. Not only is it incredibly intimidating for
candidates to face down a panel of six or more interviewers, it's
probably not necessary. Two or three interviewers should be able to
assess a candidate thoroughly. Discussing and reconciling a handful
of evaluations, rather than half a dozen, will be easier as well.
When you're picking your panel members, aim for diversity amongst
interviewers. That might mean people from different departments, or
a mix of peers and supervisors, or employees with different skill
sets. Chris Lake says, “It's a good idea for multiple people to
interview candidates from across the business and not just from
within the relevant department.”
3. Plan out the interview's structure ahead of time
Treat the panel interview as a long, structured conversation with
the candidate. One person, usually the hiring manager, should act as
the lead during the interview. They should guide the conversation
and ask the initial questions. Everyone else involved will act as
fact-finders by asking follow-up questions that allow your team to
dig deeper and keep the conversation going.
Chris Lake says to make sure everyone gets a chance to speak:
“Everyone should have a voice and be able to ask questions and
develop lines of conversation. People behave differently in groups,
and the loudest voice often comes to the fore. So you have to make
sure the group is well-balanced, and that everyone can participate.”
Without proper planning, a group interview can easily descend into
confusion, with people firing off interview questions at random.
Carefully structure the
interview so that each candidate is asked the same set of
questions. This will not only make the interview go smoother, but it
will make your evaluations simpler and more fair.
Plan out a loose “script” for the interview beforehand. Sofia
Quintero, the CEO of EnjoyHQ, recommends that
you “start a Google doc and let everybody share their questions
before the [interview].” Make sure you have questions that cover each
attribute you’ll be assessing and that every panelist has a chance
to interact with the candidate.
4. Prepare the candidate
Job interviews can be stressful, and group interviews even more so.
The more prepared a candidate is for this type of interview, the
more comfortable and at ease they will be.
Include as many helpful details as possible in the interview
confirmation email you send them ahead of the interview. In
addition to the format of the interview, share with them the
The names and positions of everyone they will be speaking with so
that savvy candidates can research the interviewers in advance
Whether or not they should prepare something for the interview,
such as a presentation
What they should bring, such as a portfolio of their work
Whether you intend to assess a technical skill via an exam or
It's up to you to provide the candidate with all the information
they need to prepare; it's up to them to use what you send.
And don't forget the room setting. Instead of having the candidate
face a long table of interviewers, which can be intimidating, try to
construct a conversational seating arrangement, such as around a
circular table. Brian Nolan, co-founder of Sellbrite, says, “I like it to be more
conversational than an interrogation, so don't have all interviewers
sit on one side of the table with the candidate on the other side.
Instead, maybe do it over lunch or coffee.”
Candidates who are more relaxed will give better, more insightful
answers than candidates who are stressed. So strive for a tone that
is casual, not adversarial.
5. Know what you're evaluating for
Finally, make sure that your interviewing panel is prepped and
well-informed about the candidate and the goals of the interview.
Consider meeting with the group 10 minutes before the interview to
review the candidate's work history and other resume details. Remind
the interviewers what they should be looking for and highlight any
specific concerns you have about the candidate.
Multiple interviewers mean multiple candidate assessments, which
need to be reconciled in order to make a final decision about
whether to continue with the hiring process. Consider creating a rubric
ahead of time that interviewers can fill in with their
impressions. That way, everyone is using the same structured
criteria when evaluating the candidate. You may consider scoring
candidates on a scale of 1-5 based on their core competencies or on
attributes such as communication skills, openness to collaboration,
or problem-solving abilities. Using a numerical scale, alongside
qualitative feedback, makes it easier to collate and parse feedback