Group interview: definition and features of the format

Recruiters and HR sometimes resort to an unconventional group interview format when recruiting. Let’s look at what it is, when it is used, and how to conduct it in order to achieve high-quality results.

What is a group interview? The group interview is a simultaneous interview with several candidates for the same vacancy. 

Recruiters often use this format in order to fill similar vacancies in a mass recruitment process as quickly as possible. For example, a company needs to urgently recruit several salespeople for a new supermarket or call centre staff.  

Such interviews can also be carried out for positions where communication skills, initiative, compromise and flexibility in difficult situations are crucial. For example, we are talking about recruiting salespeople, marketers, realtors, insurers, journalists, press secretaries, etc. 

In some cases, group interview format is used when hiring for the position of division/department head, who should have strong leadership skills. But not every professional, especially highly qualified ones, will take a positive attitude to such an event, so it is important to proceed with caution. It is also pointless to conduct such interviews for engineers, accountants, analysts, IT specialists.

How to conduct a group interview

It is simple: the recruiter invites several applicants to the same meeting, and it is best to warn them about this format in advance. 

If only one professional is to be selected, a special atmosphere is created for all participants where they can compete with each other. The aim is to stand out, prove themselves, succeed and convince the recruiter that they are the right person for the vacancy. 

If candidates are needed for several similar vacancies, the opposite is true – they are invited to participate in teamwork and to find solutions to tasks together.  

The focus in a group interview questions is on a possible problem that is important to overcome or solve. While the process is going on, the recruiter carefully observes the behaviour of all participants: how they react, what they say, how they propose to act, etc. 

It should be borne in mind that group interviews can be more stressful than personal interviews. Recruiters can therefore realize quicker whether a candidate has soft skills, and understand how stress-resistant, communicative, proactive, ready to work well in a team etc. he is.

group interview

Benefits of the group interviews

Resources saving

An individual interview with a recruiter of 20 people can take an average of 3 days. A group interview takes up to 3 hours. The difference is tangible, as interviewing candidates in groups is faster than a face-to-face interview. In half an hour, you can talk to several applicants and even get an impression of each one. 

Rapid assessment of competencies

This format is perfect for working with cases imitating the work tasks. When participants discuss and perform simulation tasks, they can be assessed and compared in order to select the most suitable ones. 

Rapid “elimination”

At such meetings, some applicants can see that it is not really “theirs” and drop out of the “race”. Or those who are significantly weaker than the other participants are clearly visible. All this considerably optimizes the selection process.

Extra motivation for the candidate

Most people like to compete. When watching competitors strive for the vacancy, an interested candidate will want to give it one hundred and ten percent. And the fact that he is the one who got the job will be his first victory at the new company. And victories always motivate you to do better.

Disadvantages of the group interview

  • Inexperienced candidates with potential have little chance. 

Whereas in a face-to-face interview the recruiter is completely focused on his interviewee, in the case of a group interview this is almost unrealistic. In this situation, it is not easy to spot a promising professional who, due to lack of experience in such events, may be shy to show himself/herself. 

  • Group interviews are not universal.

For example, if it is a technical specialist or a top manager, this format is definitely not appropriate. In this case, only the quality of competences, experience and cases come to the fore. 

  • This format will not help to attract the talented ones.

Again – due to the impossibility of personalization, it is extremely difficult to identify candidates with exceptional abilities and rare competencies.


How to prepare for a group interview?

⮚ It is necessary to create a profile of the desired candidate with as detailed requirements as possible, as well as to work out a meeting plan and a list of questions.

⮚ Prepare a comfortable room with enough space, drinking water, cups and stationery.

⮚ It is important that no one disturbs the recruiter during the interview, candidate participants are not using messengers and are not distracted by external stimuli, etc.

How do group interviews like?

Tasks for the group. There can be an average of 5-6 candidates in a team to work effectively. This team interview is assigned by the recruiter to solve a specific task related to the future position. The process of solving it will allow you to see how well a particular candidate overcomes possible difficulties and whether he/she can apply for the advertised position.

Circle talk. The recruiter asks similar questions (or one question) to each participant. The task of the latter is to answer in an interesting and pithy way, find an opportunity to stand out from the rest in order to impress the interviewer. 

Group + individual. Sometimes, companies do a mix – first, they work as a team, and then, without carrying over to another day, delicately ask the most suitable candidate(s) to stay and expect on to clarify the information.


Group interview plan-scenario

An interview plan may be necessary for first-time recruiters or those who have not yet encountered this format.

Describe the company – succinctly, interestingly, comprehensively. 

Be sure to elaborate on the vacancy and what the employer expects from the candidate. Consistently tell the job description of the tasks that will make up his/her working day. Pay special attention to the specifics and hours of work, bonuses, overtime, holidays and other important aspects.

Ask candidates to fill in questionnaires 

Keep it simple, straightforward and as concise as possible – so you don’t lose information about participants. It should include the job applicant’s name, phone number, email, additional details related to the position.

Ask applicants to make a short statement about themselves

Giving each participant a couple of minutes for self-presentation, it is important to deliver the main message: during this time the candidate should tell about himself/herself, key skills, experience and handle as much as possible. In the way to interest the recruiter.

Prepare tasks beforehand

These may be psychological tests, gamified tasks, possible simulating case studies, tasks with creative implications, etc. You can even choose a leader, or see who offers themselves for this role in the team. In any case, the scenario for such an interview depends on the set of competencies required. The recruiter’s main goal is to get as much information about each of the participants as possible by observing how the group works.

Tell the group what will happen next.

At the end, tell the group about your impressions, thank them for their participation. It may seem like a small thing, but given the non-standard and stressful nature of the format, it is important. It is worth mentioning the mechanics of assessing everyone, the deadlines for giving feedback and the next steps. If someone is definitely unsuitable, it is better to communicate this correctly straight away.

What is next?

The group interview always eliminates the superfluous, because the selection process takes place during teamwork or discussion between the participants. Those who have made an impression and demonstrated maximum suitability to the employer’s requirements are invited for a personal or panel interview.


What is a group interview?
A group interview is a job interview format in which several candidates participate at the same time.
In which cases do recruiters use the group interview format most often?
A group interview can be used to quickly fill one type of vacancy. For example, in mass recruitment, when it is an urgent need to hire several sales assistants for a new supermarket or call-center employees.
How to conduct a group interview effectively?
One option is that the recruiter offers a simulation of a situation or a problem that participants should solve together. In the process, the recruiter or HR carefully observes how the candidates behave – their reactions, behavior, emotions, proposed action plan, etc.
In which cases is a group interview ineffective?
For example, if you are looking for a top manager or a specialist with rare competencies, as well as in all cases where a personalized approach at all stages of recruitment is assumed. It can also be difficult to discern inexperienced but promising candidates in a group interview.