(5) Reasons Not to Do a Group Interview

(5) Reasons Not to Do a Group Interview

One of my clients mentioned to me today that a company she was interested in working for asked her to come in for a group interview. She was apprehensive about this style of interviewing not knowing what to expect. I don’t blame her. Group interviews are something you never want to do, unless you are on “Million Dollar Matchmaker” with Patti Stager. Even then, any group interview, of sorts, is doomed for failure.

Years ago I was looking to get into cable TV time sales and interviewed with HBO network. I had experience in selling time for radio stations but not for TV. This position would have been a break for me into the world of TV ad sales. I was brought into a group interview with seven other people.

We all sat at one table with the guy we were interviewing with. He’d ask a question and we would all talk over one another in an effort to be heard and to stand out from the others. It was a disaster, yet I ended up being one of the final two candidates. The guy finally hired a  woman who came from a real estate background with no experience in media sales.

I never have forgotten how awkward and non-productive a group interview can be.  Below are the top five reasons to avoid a group interview at all costs.

  • A group interview is a cattle call for a job candidate. Rarely, does one get a job this way. It’s like an open casting call for an actor.  The company who does this is in many cases is just looking around to see what is out there in the market and has no intention of hiring anyone.
  • If a company sets up a group interview they often have no idea what they are seeking in a job candidate. Not knowing what they are looking for makes it more difficult to fill their need.
  • Interviewing with others you don’t know violates your privacy and what is said in front of people who are your competitors can work against you in your overall job search. Why give these people you are competing against your best information and interview tactics?
  • It’s almost impossible to get heard by the hiring manager when you have several other people talking over you. The ones’ with the biggest voice and are the most aggressive always get the stage making it difficult for you to convey your message.
  • By joining in on a group interview you are saying you are desperate. Don’t play their game. If they want to see you they should value your time and meet with you alone.

Group interviewing can be one of the most humiliating tasks you do when you are seeking a job. It’s tough enough out their in our economy without having to subject yourself to the pain of a group interview. My advice is to never go to one of these interviews. If the company doesn’t respect you and your time enough to set up an appointment, take a pass.

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  • It sounds like these were some bad group interview sessions. But these were not effective designed as group interviews.

    The group interview should not be a Q&A in a group. I agree with you there. If that's the set up, get out.

    However, group interviews do work effectively when the candidates are presented with work-related problem solving situations. Responding to a case study and looking at the organization's appropriate data and making recommendations are two good ways to use these. When candidates have to interact with other candidates around these issues, so much is revealed safely without sacrificing the individual's privacy.

    I've participated on both sides of group interviews. I can't go back to the traditional Q&A now. That allows for too many people to BS.

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    I agree these types of jobs are not worth the time. I have done a few when I was first looking for a new job and wanted to do something different. I refuse to do them now. I will not waste my time or effort because I am obviously just a number to them. I would rather work for a company who is serious about me and willing to accommodate me as I would them. It's all about consideration.

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