I once worked at a company where all members of a production team interviewed prospective job candidates. Some people may call that overkill and, looking back objectively, I can see that it could have been a grueling and frightening process for the job applicant. Picture yourself at a table with six people all lobbing questions at you and all bearing witness to any tongue-tied answers you may accidentally spit out. Intimidating, to say the least.
But we tried to make the job candidates relax. We sat around the table together and talked casually. It wasn't as if we grilled them like they were supreme court candidates. We more or less had a conversation during which we gathered pertinent information about their personalities.
So why did we do it that way? Because we wanted the person hired to fit within our culture; culture being the environment that shaped and determined how we worked together. Our boss knew better than to think she knew exactly what kind of person we needed in our midst. She couldn't have known because we really didn't know how to verbalize it. It was the old "We'll know it when we see it."
She also knew that we wouldn't rule anyone out for little reasons ("His tie was too short") or stupid reasons ("Her aura was purple"). But she knew she couldn't be the sole judge of what kind of employee who would benefit or detract from our team dynamic. The six of us were able to ask our own questions to ascertain how the person worked under pressure, whether he or she had a sense of humor, the kind of pace he or she was comfortable with, and so on.
As a manager, do you ever employ the group interview method? If so, have you seen benefits? If not, what aree your reasons for not doing it?
Toni Bowers is the former Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.