Saturday 24 February 2018

Group Interview vs One-on-One Interview

Have you ever considered carrying out a Group Interview instead of a 'bunch' of time consuming 1-on-1 interviews for a vacancy?

We were introduced to the Group Interview concept through Action Coach KZN some time ago.

So how does a Group Interview 'work' and is it better than the 1-on-1 interviews that most company's still traditionally carry out?

A client of ours carried out a Group Interview for a fairly senior role that was also quite technical. We had sourced candidates from several employment agencies and a few candidates who had responded privately to an advert.

The responses from the employment agencies were interesting, let alone the candidates. Even after a careful explanation of how it would 'work', two of the agencies were very positive about the process and the other was very negative.

Our client now uses the Group Interview process, for most of their vacancies.

Responses from the candidates being ‘group interviewed’ have been positive. After the initial nerves, candidates appeared to relax into the process and were even interacting with each other, let alone responding to the questions posed to them. This is obviously beneficial to both sides.

If a company makes a firm decision based on a first impression, it may not be the right or best impression of a candidate. The concept of first impressions being biased against candidates was shared in an article we recently posted (

Depending upon the position, two or more people conduct the Group Interview. The purpose is to have a panel who can share some of their experiences with the candidates of what it means to them about being part of the company.

Traditionally candidates have approached an interview with the mindset of 'I hope I can sell myself to this company and that they will like me enough to hire me'. We believe it is equally important for the candidate to 'interview' the company to understand their possible “fit” into the organisation and do they want to work for that company. So within any interview process the key question is: do the candidate’s skills and attributes meet what the company requires and are the company’s culture, values, aligned with the candidates? If not the potential employment relationship is not founded on a solid basis.  

Candidate suitability can be based on evaluating their CV, references checked and we often use a Phase 1 Questionnaire as well. With planned questions being posed to all the candidates in one Group Interview, and then watching the inter-play between candidates the panel and each other, gives more insight into their personality and emotional maturity, which in turn assisted with identifying who was going to be a good 'fit' for the organisation.

Phase three involves one or two of the successful candidates having a 1-on-1 interview with the panel. In this interview, with just one or two people (including the human resource practitioner) the panel are able to 'probe' more, with regard to some of the answers to questions already given, and also provide the candidate an opportunity to 'probe' more about the role the company requires, and possibly the remuneration structure offered.

The Group Interview advantages if planned correctly will save quality time.
Whereas the disadvantage of the 1-on-1 interview is that they take a long time.

The Group Interview panel asking the same questions of all the candidates achieves fairness and the candidates have their FULL attention.

The Interview panel in the 1-on-1 interview process, after interviewing several candidates can easily be tired or distracted, with the last candidate possibly being the most suitable but not getting a fair evaluation, which could skew the decision process, making it unfair and even rude for the candidates.

We have found that the Group Interview, carried out with the process we developed for our client, having between 2 - 3 Phases, has yielded a more constructive, fair result for all parties involved.

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