Have you ever sent in your resume to an employer and thought, “this doesn’t represent me in the best way. If only they knew me they’d hire me. If only I could put myself across, instead of only having this cold, dry resume.” Well, at Radar Hill we really try to get to know our applicants, by conducting group interviews. Why do we do that? Let’s use an example from a recent hiring we did for an administrative assistant.
We had 75 applicants. Yes. 75 for just one position. How do we possibly go through that many? We don’t have a dedicated HR department nor do we employ hiring services to find employees, preferring to do everything personally and in-house. To begin with, we take a quick look through their resumes and cover letters to see who is basically qualified. That eliminated 15, so now we are down to 60 people. At an hour an interview, that’s 60 hours, and we just can’t do that. Even doing a very in-depth look at their resumes would take many hours and is not the singularly most conclusive or accurate representation of someone.
So, what next? We then send out a “typo test” to judge their ability to edit documents and their level of attention to detail. It was a section of one of our previous newsletter’s that was modified to be full of typos and inconsistencies, as we wanted to allow applicants to showcase their proofreading skills. From those who responded, we shortlisted further, rated them, and the people who could not reach an adequate score were crossed off. We then had 40 candidates who all seemed superficially qualified, and we proceeded to give each of them a more in-depth look at their resume. Previous administrative experience was not vital. What we wanted was someone who could use Microsoft Office well, be consistent in their formatting, was looking for a long-term position, and had some customer service experience.
From those 40, we almost halved the list to 22 applicants who seemed all well qualified for the position. However, a resume and cover letter is not enough – we want to get to know all of them. What is their personality like? How will they fit in? How well will they work with others? We have found that one of the best to ways to get a glimpse of their personalities is to do a group interview.
Before the group interview, Dan conducts a very brief phone interview and arranges for them to come by for an in-person interview, leaving out the fact that it will be a group interview. To start off the group interview, we go into the boardroom and we introduce them to the company. We ask them questions and look to see who has given an indication of knowing anything about our business and who has at least visited our website. We look for eye contact, friendliness and enthusiasm. We also look out for who wants to stay in the corner and whimper, who is sober, who is not stoned– yes, we have had someone like that. Ask Shawn or Dan in person for that anecdote.
We want to see who we can communicate with. Because this role involves dealing with our clients, we want to see who can really stand out; who is too chatty, who is too vague, who is too silent. Being shy is fine, being quiet is fine, but someone who doesn’t have any questions for us or someone who only speaks when asked directly and with as few words as possible, is not the personality type that would fit this specific position. We don’t have a severe authoritarian atmosphere in the room when conducting the interviews, there is room for joking and laughter, and we appreciate those that can join in and be conscious of the environment around them.
We conducted a total of 3 group interviews, all in the same day, as in the end only 14 people responded to Dan’s phone message. We had a group of 6, one with 3, and one with 5 people. From that we decide who we would like to bring back for an individual interview. For this recent hire, it was a difficult decision as many of them were qualified and eager. We eventually shortlisted down to 5, and we would have been happy with any of them, but at the moment we do not need 5 administrative assistants. Many hours were spent discussing who we were to ultimately hire, but the group interview helped immensely with the entire process.
To summarize, the reason we do group interviews is because we find it to be the most efficacious way to get a face to face introduction with the largest number of applicants for our positions in a time efficient manner. It should be noted that if we have few applicants then a group interview is not necessary, or if a position is not required to have people skills, then we would be less likely to do group interviews. There are a couple people working at Radar Hill now for if whom we did a group interview they probably would not have been chosen, but their positions do not require much client contact. Our hiring process is reflective of the position, and in this case for the administrative assistant the ideal candidate will be eager and enthusiastic, to assist in the smooth operations of our business and handling of clients.