Recruiting can be overwhelming, particularly for internal hiring teams. From sorting through mountains of applications and organising several interviews in the hiring manager’s busy schedule, there never seems to be enough time in the day!

There are many different types of job interviews you can use in your recruitment process. A one-on-one conversation is very different to a panel interview, and a phone interview different to face-to-face. A group interview is exactly what it says on the tin: several applicants are interviewed at once as a group.

Group interviews are a huge plus for time-poor recruiters, but they may present certain challenges in the hiring process. We’re going to look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of group interviews to recruit new hires.


Pro: Interview more candidates in a group interview.

If your candidate pool is too big it may be worth considering a group interview where you can assess many candidates’ skills at once. One of the advantages of hosting a group interview is that it enables you to interview more candidates for the role, as you only have to allocate one time slot for the interview.

Offering more applicants the chance to interview ensures a comprehensive hiring process, leaving no stone unturned to find the right hire.

In the group interview, set up a task or focus group which involves candidates speaking to each other to solve a problem. Your interview panel can take notes based on the interactions between the fellow candidates, assessing a candidate’s social skills, body language and confidence in large groups.

Group discussions can provide insight on how a candidate compares and communicates with the other candidates in the room and help interviewers ensure the right fit for the new hire. Focus groups will be of particular interest when comparing candidates with similar qualifications and experience. Understanding how their candidates interact in a group setting can make-or-break your decision on a particular candidate as you can directly compare them to their competition.

This is also possible when organising group interviews online. Online group interviews are great for larger group interviews, as you put in structured ‘break-outs’ for smaller group discussions.


Con: You Will Have Less Time With Each Candidate.

Interviewing every candidate individually involves a lot of time and effort but opting for a group interview means having less time to analyse each candidate’s experience. A disadvantage of group interviews is that it becomes difficult to have an in-depth conversation with each candidate and assess the specifics of their experience outside of their CV.

You may lose out on discovering the small details on each candidate that can perfectly meet your requirements.

Because of this reason, group interviews are preferable for first-round interviews. If a candidate stands out against their peers, they can move onto the next stage of the interview process.

For the next round of the hiring process, try using Hireserve’s interview schedule tool to easily fit your shortlist into your schedule. The automated interview scheduling system removes the need to arrange interviews with candidates over email or the phone, significantly reducing associated administration for the recruitment team and the applicant. This gives you more time to interview a larger selection of candidates in the next round.


Pro: Group Interviews Can Help You Evaluate Your Talent Pool.

A talent pool is a great resource for any company. Talent pools are a database of candidates who have previously registered their interest in working for your company. Using your database, you can select the requirements, skills and experience you need for a given role and have a list of candidates ready and waiting.

So, how does a group interview help you evaluate your talent pool?

By reaching out to several candidates in your talent pool for a group interview, you have the chance to meet them directly, either face-to-face or online. You can either do this with a specific role in mind or as a step in the candidate screening process. As an interviewer, you can evaluate suitable candidates but also take notes on other candidates that may be needed for a future vacancy. Knowing your applicants is an advantage. You never know when you might need their specific skills and talent on another occasion.

Hireserve’s talent pool management tool is a good way to streamline your talent pools and create bespoke pools for certain skills, experience, locations and more. Having direct feedback on every candidate from a group interview can help you to narrow this down further, and have a bank of information on a candidate ready for when an employment vacancy arises.


Con: Group Interviews Aren’t For Every Personality

As an interviewer, it is an essential part of the recruitment process to do a job analysis and determine the kind of personality needed for that role. This will help you establish the appropriate interview questions but also the type of interview you need. Some personalities may find themselves at a disadvantage in a group setting.

If it’s not essential for a candidate to be outgoing, it can be detrimental to the recruitment process to use a group interview.

You may eliminate candidates with great qualifications and experience based on the fact that they’re not chatty! A successful recruitment process is one where the interviewer understands how to get the most out of each candidate at interview. Figure out what the best interview format for the role would be, and assess candidates accordingly.


Pro: Asking a group the same interview questions means everyone gets an equal opportunity.

One of the best advantages of a group interview is that every recruit will go through the exact same process. Every candidate will have the sae opportunity to answer the interview questions and feedback on the existing discussion.

Be sure as an interviewer to allow all candidates to speak up – don’t disregard the quieter ones!

A group interview setting can also allow for some interesting discussions. No candidate will want to repeat something that has already been said, so the group have the opportunity to be creative with their responses, as opposed to providing a set of predictable example answers.


Con: It can be hard to keep track of multiple candidates!

It’s no lie, after a full day of interviews, a hiring manager’s head can be fried! When a whole day’s worth of interviews are packed into one afternoon, this can be even more confusing.

Was it Candidate A or Candidate B that had the great response on time management? We’ve all been there.

In a group interview setting, it’s important to be consistently taking notes and keeping tack of which candidate said what. Hireserve’s advanced ATS can help you to simplify this process. You can upload your notes on each candidate easily so that when it comes to shortlisting or even re-advertising, you can see what criteria made you select or dismiss a candidate for the position.


A Mixed Approach?

A mixed approach of group and individual interviews is often seen as best practice for job roles with a high number of applications. Consider holding initial small group meetings to narrow down the pool of candidates, then move on to individual interviews as part of your recruitment process.

Be open to your candidates from the beginning of the recruitment process and transparent about the amount of stages they can expect.

Group interviews are useful as a part of a rigorous interview process of 3 stages or more. From your initial chats with interviewees, inform them on the kind of recruitment process they’ll be a part of and how much time they will have to account for. As the interview process progresses, offer individual face-to-face interviews to get to know the candidate in depth.

Hireserve’s industry-leading ATS software holds a host of advantages for in-house hiring teams. The software functionalities aim to streamline recruitment from end-to-end, with tools for job advertisements, social media pushes, pre-employment checks and more!

If you want to see how ATS software can revolutionise your internal hiring, request a demo with one of our team.

About the author

Tristan Potter

Tristan has a decade's worth of experience writing content and copy for organisations across Bristol and the Southwest of England. He has written on a diverse range of topics, including technology, philosophy, politics, and recruitment. His writing has appeared in The Drum, HR Grapevine, and The Guardian, among other publications. He joined Hireserve in March 2022.