On group interviews

I remember my first group interview—in high school when I applied for a scholarship through Open Society Foundations Romania (now defunct: Fundația pentru o Societate Deschisă —Wikipedia).

I took an English test and passed, and then there was a group interview.

There were three people, me and two girls.

Imagine our situation: at an extreme, two girls next to each other, and me.

After some initial questions, we were supposed to talk to each other.

Now, imagine how the interview went – as you can imagine, the girls started talking to each other.

I didn’t get the interview. I don’t blame it solely on the group interview issue, but I think it’s one reason.

In college, I got some group interviews with student organizations.

At some point, an HR person came to hold a conference organized by one of the organizations that organized group interviews and bluntly said that group interviews are bad. There was a lot of laughter from the audience.

The manager of the NGO rose and said they organized a series of recruitment sessions and group interviews and how good they are for doing so—oh boy! They are the greatest.

The speaker softened his message but kept his ground – group interviews are not recommended.

How I view it: In group interviews, you need to talk, but you don’t need to talk to everyone. There’s no specific reason for which a person doesn’t get spoken to; the blame is collective. If no one wants to speak to X, for whatever reason, there’s not a single individual to blame this on.

Another thing is that evaluating a group of people becomes more complex (Differences between a panel discussion and a single speech—Blog de Olivian Breda). When you talk one-to-one, you get an idea of how a person is. When evaluating a group of people, this becomes more difficult.

A better solution? If you’re an NGO and have 1,000 people applying for ten positions, you could give each person a task that you need to do (writing a blog post or doing something that could benefit you). Then, provide a more challenging task to the remaining 100 people who do the first task. Then, only have interviews to ensure you can talk to the person, but don’t refuse people because you don’t like them for whatever reason. In the end, hire 20–30 people for the NGO and give them a lot of tasks at the beginning. After a while, you should have ten very motivated persons.

Phạm Hồ Thanh - Talk
Phạm Hồ Thanh – Talk, https://flic.kr/p/2kx7UmT

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