The vast majority of jobs require some version of interaction with other people. And yet, employers rarely bother to test how candidates work with other people during the hiring process. At least not in any reliable way. Group interviews require some extra leg work and coordination. And if you’re only hiring one person for a certain role, it can be awkward to have candidates in the same room, much less interacting. But the payoff - for both employer and candidate! - far outweighs the downsides.

Why do we go to the trouble of coordinating 80+ busy people (1st year MBA students) from around the country to gather in groups of 4-8 (in person or online) for a highly-structured group activity that’s challenging, fast-moving, and a little bit uncomfortable?

This year, we actually asked the candidates themselves why they thought we do the group interview. As reassuring testimony to their extraordinary qualifications, they pretty much nailed it. So here are their insights about the value of group interviews - from a candidate perspective (the direct quotes below are theirs, to give you an idea of exactly what they noticed and appreciated). 

If you’re in the market for highly motivated, business-minded, purpose-driven talent, here’s what they want to see in the recruitment process. 

1) PERFORMANCE

Several of our candidates noticed that we were testing their performance in skills that we expect of our Fellows, as well as showcasing our own way of working. Specifically, we’re looking for: 

A. Teamwork

We need to know:

  • Can they "interact well with a team while still driving things forward," making decisions and planning presentations?
  • Can they "challenge others’ ideas productively,” to build an informed consensus? 

They appreciated:

  • the opportunity to interact with “impressive and like-minded peers," as our fellows get to do.

B. Efficiency and Effectiveness

We need to know:

  • Can they keep pace and calm through a series of "thoughtful and fast-moving activities"?

They appreciated:

  • The "logical process of the exercise, that built on itself throughout."

C. Flexibility

We need to know:

  • Can they "get behind something that wasn’t their original thought and help their team to defend it compellingly"?

2) COACHABILITY

Because our Fellowships are designed to help professionals grow - indeed, one of our company values is continuous improvement - we have to identify candidates who are willing and eager to do the hard work of growth.

We need to know:

  • Did they respond to our intentionally tough (heard through VFA) feedback with the right blend of humility that they might have been wrong and conviction that they had a valid thought process?

They appreciated:

  • “Live, real time feedback, not just on their formal presentations, but also the discussion and planning process in between."
  •  “The opportunity for self-reflection" that we provided at the end of the exercise.

3) FIT

Finally, it was clear to the candidates that we were looking to gauge their enthusiasm about our work and philosophical fit for our approach. Of course, we are also providing them with first-hand insights about whether joining us as a Fellow is right for them. 

We need to know:

  • Do they catch the same factors about impact that we focus on, and recognize the potential tradeoffs and complications of those factors?  

They appreciated:

  • An inside look at our team, working style, and specifically, our selection process for Fellows.

Many candidates have mentioned the group interview as a critical part of the recruitment process that got them even more excited about the opportunity, and confirmed our Fellowship was the right choice for them. So, consider how to integrate a group exercise (whether among candidates or a mixed group of candidate(s) and your team) into your hiring process. You and your potential new teammates will gain insights well worth the logistical hassle or initial awkwardness of setting them up!