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Collective interview: Our tips on how to prepare it well

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The importance of soft skills is no longer in question! Faced with the growing obsolescence of know-how, today it is the time of social skills. Flexibility, teamwork proactivity… All these behavioral skills are now in demand in companies. All that remains is to evaluate them during the hiring process!

Good News: That’s precisely what collective interviews allows you to do. The ideal recruitment method for detecting behavioral skills of candidates. Here are some of the best practices for conducting collective interviews.

Collective job interview, definition

As its name suggests, the collective interview consists of interviewing several candidates at the same time. Moreover, the collective interview is also called “group interview”. The number of candidates invited to a collective interview may vary depending on the number of positions to be filled.

This method of recruitment is particularly used in the recruitment of sales or marketing professionals. These are two disciplines where interpersonal skills play an essential role!

💡A collective interview generally takes place at the beginning of the recruitment process (after the HR pre-qualification). It leads to a series of individual interviews in case of a positive outcome.

What is the purpose of a collective interview?

  • First, it allows members of a company to align their opinions on candidates and decide between them in real time. This way managers, HR professionals, and future teammates can form an opinion on several candidates at the same time. At the end of the interview employees can simply get together share their reactions and feelings about the various candidates.

The fact of evaluating several candidates at the same time also makes it possible to shorten a company’s recruitment time.

  • A collective interview also provides insight into how candidates behave in a group. If they quickly feel comfortable, if they will naturally try to make an embarrassed candidate feel comfortable, try to crush some of them, etc.

  • The collective interview is an excellent way to collectively evaluate the candidates’ soft skills (such as their ability to analyze or synthesize), their interpersonal skills, their emotional intelligence, their ability to work in a group… In short, their personality!

Consequently, this stage of recruitment is even more relevant for positions that require specific soft skills (such as a good team spirit, strong adaptability, empathy, leadership, strong listening skills etc.).

  • The scenarios deployed during a collective interview would have a predictive character. As a result, the recruitment operated with this device is more durable (Since It is based on an empirical observation of the candidates’ personality).

⚠️Beware of cognitive biases that may push you to favor one candidate over another!

When softs skills are compromising recruitments

In his book Hiring for attitude, Mark Murphy, founder of the Leadership IQ Institute, is categorical. It is not technical skills that are the cause of most departures… but behavioral skills! The expert relies on a study conducted on nearly 20,000 hires. According to this study, the main reasons for dismissal or resignation include:

  • “people’s inability to accept feedback (26%),”
  • “the inability to understand and manage one’s own emotions (23%),”
  • “lack of ambition and desire to excel (17%),”
  • or “the presence of major mismatches between the temperament needed to succeed in the position and the temperament presented by the people hired (15%).”

Still according to this study, “only 11% of recruitment failures would actually be attributable to a lack of purely technical knowledge or skills.”

In other words, to improve the quality and sustainability of its recruitments you need to pay special attention to the behavioral skills of the talent! 

How does a collective interview work?

Like any recruitment stage, the collective interview cannot be improvised.

  • Like a traditional interview, the collective interview starts with a quick presentation of the company, the position to be filled and the people involved (they can be managers, HR members, operational members – or all of them at the same time).

  • Most often, it is then up to the candidates to introduce themselves in turn, specifying the reason for their application, their motivations, etc.

  • You can also introduce the candidates yourself. This is an opportunity to highlight the strengths of each candidate, which will build their confidence!

  • In an ideal situation, the collective interview should then lead to one or more scenarios. They are an opportunity to engage candidates in a debate, collectively find a solution to a problem, design a project, launch a new product…

  • Once the scenario is complete, it’s time to debrief! It’s time to ask the candidates about their feelings. 

💡 To remember

A collective interview requires special caring – because the collective nature of the interview can add a dose of stress to the candidates… And we are not all equal in the face of stress! 

Some good practices for conducting your group conversation well: 

  • The first essential step is to identify the positions that require a group meeting.

  • Then think about preparing scenarios and role plays that will help you better understand the candidates’ personality during the collective interview.

  • You can also prepare case studies to be solved by several. This exercise is a great way to identify true leaders – able to listen to others, while demonstrating some leadership and/or persuasion. 

 💡 For maximum transparency, indicate on your job posting that your recruitment process will include a collective interview! 

Collective Conversation: Our Tips for Getting It Right, in Conclusion

In short, the collective interview is the ideal solution to measure the candidates’ personal values and how they interact in groups. As a bonus, this method of recruitment saves considerable time on recruitment. Since it makes it possible to meet a maximum of candidates and evaluate them quickly!

Caution however: the collective interview is not suitable for all recruitments. For example, it should not be used to recruit rare profiles or for positions where technical skills take precedence over know-how.

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