Dealing With a Crowd
Group interviews are always interactive, open and dynamic. They are used to hasten the process of recruitment and selection by filtering out the incompetent candidates from a crowd of applicants. The interactive session in group interviews reveals ideas about team skills, leadership qualities, communication and inter-personal skills of the prospective candidates.
Create an Ideal Job Profile
Before the interview begins, you must define the roles and responsibilities for a new employee for a particular post. Unless you know this, you cannot conclude what qualities to look for in candidates.
Peruse the Applications
Read all the resumes and cover letters and select to interview the ones whose profile match the job description. It also reflects how each candidate explains how they are suitable for the job.
Decide the Interview Time and Date
Schedule a time and date that is suitable to you as well as your colleagues who will be involved in the selection process. Usually Friday afternoon or Saturday mornings are the most preferred times. Invite the candidates to the interview giving them as much advance notice as possible.
Sometimes you’ll be surprised to know that some applicants turn down the interview because they have plans to go out on Friday nights. Do not reschedule the interview for such candidates. If they can’t commit to the interview, how will they be committed to the job? However, if you like, you can reschedule the interview for the applicants with valid reason.
Be Prepared with Paperwork and Arrangements
A questionnaire is a good tool to acquire details such as relevant experience, career orientation, etc. Discuss with your colleagues who will ask which type of questions. This is important to avoid confusion. Describe the final structure of the interview to the interviewees who will be there with you. Decide the total number of candidates per group.
Make sure that there are enough chairs, pens and papers for candidates. It’s always better to keep the interview room clean and have bottles of water available. Give the appearing applicants a feel of how you treat people in the organization.
Observe People When They Arrive
Without being too apparent, keep an eye on each applicant’s arrival time. Observe them entering the room. Do they look confident,
nervous, respectful or shy? Do they keep to themselves or interact with other candidates? Also, the way they are dressed tells a lot about their personality.
Start the Interview
Collect questionnaires (if used) from the applicants and invite them to the interview hall. Welcome the interviewees with a warm greeting and introduce each interviewer with their respective roles to the candidates. Explain the organizational culture, job description and company expectations.
Ask the interviewees to introduce themselves by stating their names and answering a specific question like “Where did you finish your schooling?” or “What’s your hobby?” This is a good beginning to make the introduction period an interactive one. Give this session about 15 to 20 minutes.
Conduct a Group Activity
Start the group activity that you have pre-planned. Guide the applicants in the task or a creative activity that is relevant to the job description. It’s a great opportunity to know how each candidate works in a team, which candidate emerges as the leader, the manner they interact with one another, etc. This should not take more than 20 minutes.
Conduct a Small Group Activity
Break the group into two or more smaller groups, especially in pairs. Ask each group why they applied for the particular job. Instruct each candidate to write down whats, whys and wherefores about the other one. Then get each candidate to speak something about the other person. Let them present their views to the whole room. This will tell you everything about the emotional intelligence of the candidates.
Ask Them to Summarize the Interview
Provide all the candidates with a paper and pen. Ask them to write a summary of the interview. You can also give them specific questions to answer but the question should be in line with the job they have applied for. Allot 5 to 10 minutes of time for this. This part is crucial if you want to understand the observational and analytical skills of the candidates.
Conclude the Process
Collect the papers and ask the participants if they have any questions or queries. After satisfying them with your answers, close the interview by thanking everyone. Give the contact number of someone in the office whom they may contact with their questions. Also, tell them when they should hear from you.
All of these tips will aid you greatly, especially if your goal is conducting a successful group interview.
How to Conduct a Job Interview(2011), Elizabeth Magill, Vook Publishers
Author's own experience in the recruitment and the selection process.