Are group interviews a waste of time?

If you’ve ever been to a group interview, you might think of them as a cluttered and messy experience. Alternatively, that way of doing things could be right up your street. It all depends on your likes and dislikes, if you’re a candidate up for the role, or the person doing the hiring.

Remember, no smart company wants to deliberately waste their own time at all. That group interview is intended to be there for a productive reason. Whether you think you have poor chances and that your efforts will be fruitless, you can’t outwardly express this if you want to succeed.

Consequently, there’s no objective way to prove that group interviews are a waste of time for everyone. The people who bag the roles would probably say they’re great! Of course, there are a few pointers that can lead you to think that it’s a bit pointless, such as…

Too many people


Whether you have anxiety holding you back or you just like to get down to business quickly, lots of people can be a bother. It’s noisy, and lots of awkward glances can be exchanged between candidates before the day is through. For a few unbearable hours, nobody really knows where they stand.

Some people just can’t thrive around large groups who’re paying attention to every little thing they’re doing. Working is different; you blend in with colleagues, and you’re just another suit milling about in the office. However, when you’re a potential candidate, that feeling of needing to be on guard can be dialled all the way up to eleven.

Still, it can be possible to ease up in this situation for those with more mild anxiety. For example, because there are more candidates, eyes may not be on you the whole time. There’s other people to observe and analyse, and you’re not in a situation where three people are judging you and only you at once. Still, this is a very, very thin silver lining for most people…

Standing out


More people in the process can mean less opportunity to shine too. Instead of having a good fifteen minute or half an hour interview with one or two people, the group interview can suck you into a half day’s worth of events.  In the end, the process takes much of the time you’d use to sell yourself away from you.

It’s hard to stand out in a crowd. To be clear, group interviews rarely consist of randoms walking in off the street. For the more skilled jobs, everyone who has assembled is completely qualified to be there; at least on paper. It’s about character and competitiveness now, and for some, the more people there are, the more the odds shift against them.

You’ve now got five or ten minutes speaking time to land an impression, where otherwise you’d have a solid half hour to combe through your CV in detail. Perhaps there’s speed interviews which work like speed dating, or presentations to sit in on detailing the history of a company you may never work for. In the end, few candidates would find any of this ideal at all…

More tension


When there’s a lot of people gunning for one job, the tension builds. From here, things can start to turn into something ugly and uncomfortable. Interviews are nerve-wracking enough without a heightened sense of competition, so why is the group interview necessary in this regard?

Well, it quickens the hiring process for whichever company is hiring this way. While many people despise the sense of competition, many managers or CEOs will instead view this as ‘weeding out the weak ones’ early on. Businesses are competitive by nature, so thriving in that environment can be important.

Still, the more irksome candidates can form cliques or bad mouth competitors to appear more employable. Sometimes, there is just a bad atmosphere in the air, and many businesses won’t care so much so long as they bag a decent worker. For some, fighting tooth and nail for a job just isn’t worth it.

Boxed in


During a group interview, there will often be lots of turn taking during a question and answer period. There’ll be an order to answer among the candidates, and each one must come up with a different answer in order to really stand out. While it’s good for the employers who want to peg the creative minds in the room, for candidates, this can be beyond irritating.

In any other scenario, there’s no harm in having the same answer to a question as someone else. It doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it can just mean you casually agree with someone and are a like-minded individual. However, in the group interview it’s a bit of a curse, and can make you seem flat and unoriginal in terms of how you engage with people and any hypothetical issues that are presented to you.

Because so many people can participate in a group interview, there’s less wiggle room for spontaneity or creativity. Everything you say will be compared and contrasted to every other candidate, and can possibly turn the process into a battle of wits rather than an honest reflection of your work ethic and character.

Too much teamwork?


A big mistake people make during the group interview is being completely independent in their approach. Consequently, managers will be looking at a series of isolated individuals, rather than a group of polite hardworkers with some common ground; making it to the interview! If you misinterpret the situation, then obviously it can be easily drawn up to a waste of time.

It’s no secret to say that businesses are comprised of people, and those people need to pull together and get along to get the job done. Often, the group interview isn’t about ‘who stands out from the others’, but is a way of seeing how people work with one another. Are they defensive and calculating, or open and friendly?

Sometimes, the group interview can be nothing more than a huge ploy and misdirection. It’s sometimes a device to open up the floor to see how candidates interact with different people. After all, one-on-one interviews are just that, and there’s no way to gauge how potential hires will work with others in those generic situations. Read everyone at the event and suss out it’s purpose, and you’ll be able to get something out of it.


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