10 Best Questions to Ask in a Group Interview
There’s only so much you can learn about a candidate in a one-on-one closed setting. Group interviews offer you a chance to see how they interact with their peers and colleagues. They help you stay as objective as possible, and get different perspectives that remove the biases you might have in a one-on-one interview.
In a group interview, you can see how a candidate works in a team, communicates with others, and solves problems in a real-life work setting. They also allow you to compare candidates to each other, and assess how well they may work together side-by-side.
I love watching people I hire grow professionally and personally, and one of the things that gets me out of bed in the morning is helping companies achieve their goals by investing in their people.
Group interviews are a fantastic way to get to know job candidates objectively, but you have to know what to ask. In this post. I’ll show you the best practices for conducting group interviews. how we do them at Charlie and offer examples of questions to ask.
What is a Group Interview?
A group interview is an interview format where multiple candidates are interviewed simultaneously. This deviates from the traditional interview where candidates are interviewed one-on-one in a closed setting. It’s also different from a panel interview where a group of interviewers evaluates a candidate.
Group interviews can take on a few different formats, depending on what specific traits and qualities you want to assess in a candidate:
- Discussion-based interviews are a popular format, where a group is asked to engage in a group discussion about a given topic. This helps you gauge communication skills, leadership qualities, and a candidate’s ability to express themselves
- Task-oriented group interviews are also common. In these, the group collaborates to solve a problem or complete a project. This helps you get a feel for their teamwork skills, and their ability to work on projects under pressure with hard and fast deadlines.
- Role-play format where the candidates are asked to carry out a scenario related to the job they’re interviewing for and solve a problem inside that scenario. For example, in an interview for a customer service role, candidates may be asked to simulate an interaction with a difficult customer.
Why Group Interviews Are Important
Group interviews can give you a unique perspective into your candidates that you can’t get from a one-on-one interview if you know what questions to ask. They also come with several worthwhile benefits:
Group interviews save time and resources and require significantly less upfront investment than individual interviews. This is quite handy when you’re trying to fill multiple positions, or when you’re dealing with tight time constraints and need to hire someone quickly.
Diversity and Inclusion
Unconscious bias can influence your decision-making in ways that you’re not even fully aware of. Group interviews dilute this bias and shift the focus to how individual candidates respond to group-based collective challenges.
Better Candidate Experience
Traditional interviews can feel one-sided and stress-inducing like the candidate is being judged based on an invisible set of criteria. This makes them put up walls and adopt a false persona for the interview. A group interview lets candidates showcase their true, authentic personalities and give you a more accurate picture of how the candidate would fit into your team’s company culture.
Best Practices When Running Group Interviews
Group interviews involve working with diverse groups of people, quickly assessing their strengths and qualities, and getting them to work off of each other in a collaborative team setting.
There are some best practices to keep in mind here to make group interviews a useful part of your interview process.
Preparation and Planning
The group interview will go so much more smoothly if it’s backed by structure and a plan. Your plan should outline the flow of the interview, and make sure each question and each part serves a purpose in finding the perfect candidate.
Try using a mix of different questions and activities to evaluate different skills and core strengths. Prepare a range of situational, skill-based, and behavioural questions that assess their abilities in different contexts.
Conducting the Interview
Managing group dynamics is the most interesting - and fun - part of a group interview session. The goal here is to create an environment where all candidates have an opportunity to be their best selves.
Facilitate the conversation in a way that opens the floor to everyone, and allows quieter and more reserved candidates to speak and share their thoughts and opinions.
Pay attention to non-verbal queues, as these can tell you as much about a candidate as their verbal answers. Pay attention to how they communicate, how their body language shifts, and how they react to each other.
Get feedback from the other interviewers, as you can get unique perspectives on other candidate’s performance. This ensures a well-rounded view of each candidate, which can help you make a more objective hiring decision.
Making the final evaluation fair and objective is key here. This is why having a framework and grading criteria is important, to assess each candidate’s performance based on their own merits.
Make sure you don't miss out on any steps with our interview preparation checklist.
Why We Think Group Interviews Matter at Charlie
Teamwork is a fundamental part of our core values and company culture at Charlie. That’s why group interviews are such a core part of our recruitment strategy.
Group interviews give our recruitment team a unique perspective into how a potential hire works with others and communicates with leadership.
Our culture at Charlie is highly collaborative. Seeing how things play out in a group interview allows us to predict future team dynamics, and see which candidates may work well with each other, and which ones might have friction down the line. That’s worth knowing if two or more potential hires are likely to work on the same team.
10 Interview Questions to Ask Your Candidates
Most group interview questions will assess a candidate’s interpersonal skills, their empathy, and their ability to collaborate with others. Here are some common questions we like to ask Charlie and what they tell us about a candidate.
- How do you adapt to changes in a team or project?
How flexible is the candidate? How well can they pivot to changing needs, priorities and deadlines? This question tells you how well they can handle unexpected situations or curveballs, which happen all the time in startups and small businesses.
- Can you describe a time when you had to collaborate with a team to meet a challenging deadline?
How well can the candidate communicate and work with others under stress? This question shows you how well the candidate can manage their time when the pressure is on and the stakes are high.
- How do you approach a situation where you disagree with another team member’s idea?
This question looks into a candidate’s conflict resolution skills and their ability to work with disagreements and contrasting personalities constructively.
- Describe an instance where you took the lead on a project. What was the outcome?
Can the candidate take charge and lead others when it matters most? This question shows you which candidates can step into a leadership role, take responsibility, and make sure things get done.
- How do you ensure your personal biases do not affect your decision-making in a team?
Diversity is another core value at Charlie. We take every step we can to make an inclusive company culture that draws on a range of backgrounds and perspectives. This question looks into a candidate’s self-awareness and whether their unconscious biases may influence their judgment.
- Can you give an example of how you contributed to a positive work environment in your previous role?
A candidate may be highly skilled and a top performer, but it won’t amount to much if they don’t gel with others and don’t fit into the company culture. This question helps you gauge how well they’ll contribute to a positive workplace.
- How do you prioritize tasks when working on multiple projects?
In a small business setting like Charlie's, priorities and timelines shift constantly, and we need to be able to change hats and switch directions on the go. Get a sense of the candidate’s organisational skills and their ability to plan strategically.
- Share an experience where you had to learn a new skill to complete a task. How did you approach it?
The mark of a good candidate is willing to grow and change and continually learn. This question shows you their ability to take initiative and take on new skills and challenges.
- How do you handle receiving constructive criticism?
Feedback is an opportunity for growth. How well does the candidate respond to feedback and criticism? Do they take it on board, or do they lash out? This question asses their ability to self-reflect and grow personally and professionally.
Find out more in our interview feedback examples guide.
- What strategies do you use to maintain work-life balance
You do your best work when you’re motivated and energized, and you make sure it stays that way by engaging in meaningful self-care. This question looks at a candidate's ability to manage stress and have a full life outside of work.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work in Group Interviews
Group interviews let you see candidates not just for their ability to perform, but for how well they work with your team and contribute to your company culture. They can save you time and resources during the hiring process, and show you how a candidate works within a group setting.