Amanda Groves

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When it comes to finding the right person for a new role in your business, group interviews can be a valuable tool in your recruitment process. Group or panel interviews come with a range of benefits, including saving you precious time and helping you gain deeper insight into a candidate’s suitability for the job. Done right, group interviews can produce fantastic results. Make a mistake, however, and they can confuse both the panel and the candidate, and hinder your chances of hiring the right person.

So what do you need to do to make sure you get the best out of a group interview? Here’s some practical advice to follow:

Choose your panel carefully

Having a range of people on your panel will give you a range of diverse perspectives about your candidates. That’s why it’s helpful to ensure that the panel is made up of people from different departments who have diverse backgrounds and personalities. The opposing points of view they can offer will help you get a clear picture of whether or not the person is actually suitable for the job. It’s also important to select people who know your business inside out and who will best represent your organization and its culture. After all, any good candidate will also be interviewing you.

Last but not least, make sure that each person you select has a good reason for being there. Ideally, each panelist will be able to help evaluate a different aspect of each interviewee’s candidacy.

Be prepared

There are few things worse than turning up to an interview where the panelists are unprepared. Everyone who takes part in the interview needs to have read the candidate’s resume, be familiar with the job description, and know the specific requirements of the role. By understanding the type of person your organization is looking for, as well as the skills they need, your panel will be better placed to help select the right employee.

Whether you brief them individually or as a group, making sure each panelist knows the order of proceedings, and what’s expected of them, will help things to go smoothly. Group interviews can be stressful enough for a job applicant. If you’re disorganized or people are constantly talking over each other, it will only make things worse. And, rest assured that it won’t inspire any candidate to want to work for you.

So make sure that everyone on your panel has a set questions ready to ask and that they have been vetted to avoid duplication and to ensure the interview is well-rounded and flows naturally. If you need help coming up with some creative questions, we’ve got some ideas for you here.

Define everyone’s roles

Every panel needs a leader to welcome the candidate, introduce the individuals on the panel and guide the interview. This person should act as the facilitator and primary interviewer, asking questions that are more in-depth and related to specific skills or scenarios. He or she can also jump in and ask for further clarification on a candidate’s responses or follow-up on anything that might have been missed.

Ultimately, you want a leader who can facilitate the entire process and run the best interview possible. Toward the end, he or she should be able to direct any questions the candidate might have to the right panel member and bring the interview to a satisfying close.

All of the other panelists should focus on asking their questions, assessing the candidate to the best of their ability, and taking notes to help them share their feedback post interview.

Reviewing the interview

To get the best out of your group interviews, each panel member needs time to independently reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the applicants they meet. And always remember that your panel members have been chosen for a reason and therefore need to be given the opportunity to voice their opinion. This means that you should work as a group to form an objective overall impression of your candidates and eventually select the best person for your business.

Although it might sound like a lot of work, bringing together the right group for a successful panel interview will pay dividends in the long run. And, once you’ve got a system in place, it can be easily replicated time and again.

Have you used group interviews when hiring? Tell us about your experience.

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