Many employers are using group interviews these days as a way to begin the initial hiring process. This practice can work well as a way to filter out all but the most desirable applicants rather than conducting single interviews over the course of several days.
Group interviews give the business owner or hiring manager a good chance to observe how well potential employees interact with others, how comfortable they are in group situations and how interested they are in the job or jobs being offered. Candidates who are interested will show it through body language and by asking questions. It also gives the person doing the interviewing the chance to discuss job responsibilities and performance expectations with all applicants at once, allowing those who feel that it isn’t the right job for them to gracefully bow out of the running.
Group interviews should not be used to make final hiring decisions. It’s strictly a time-saving measure to help decide which applicants should be given further consideration to. It really isn’t possible to make a sound judgement call on potential employees without having a reasonably in-depth one-on-one conversation with them. The group interview eliminates the need for detailed explanation of job duties and company policy in follow-up interviews, allowing the second interview to be more substantial.
While conducting a group interview, keep your eyes open for signs of alertness and interest among the attendees. If someone is looking out of the window and obviously daydreaming, you could assume that person will do the same thing while on the job, so you can cross him or her off the list of those to contact for an individual interview.
Having a question-and-answer portion would be useful to measure who is engaged and prepared for the interview. It isn’t always dependent, however, on who asks questions and seems the most interested. There are applicants who barely say a word yet are obviously paying attention, and some of them even take notes as I’m speaking about various aspects of the company. If someone seems a bit too eager and is attempting to monopolize my time to the detriment of other applicants, try to strike a balance and give other people a chance to talk.
Soon after the group interview you should call each applicant that you’re interested in possibly hiring and set up a time for them to come in for a second interview.