The 21st century work environment is competitive and requires a combination of skills with strong communication. A good way to assess this during the hiring process is through group discussions, a tool commonly employed by organizations or a job consultancy assisting in the process.
Here, applicants are put into a group and assigned an impromptu topic to discuss amongst each other. Each participant is free to speak their mind with performance being tested on several parameters such as interpersonal skills, contribution to the discussion, clarity of thought, etc. Here are some reasons why group discussions are a good way to assess the employability of potential candidates.
Gaining an insight into the candidate
In a personal interview, the candidate’s well-rehearsed responses are an unreliable means to assess their personality. In a group discussion, the candidate has to handle arguments and opinions that challenge them. Thus, they are an excellent way for a quick assessment of how individual responds to others, how confident they are, and how willing they are to lead a discussion. A clear benefit is being able to see the interaction between candidates in a competitive situation. While some candidates may be great at a personal interview, they may prove to be bad team players.
Capacity for working in a team
Some people may have excellent applications but might not fit into an organization’s culture. Thus, employers must observe behaviour in a group setting. Several questions can be answered – is the candidate only interested in winning or are they willing to listen to the other’s perspectives? A group discussion can highlight those that lack collaborative skills.
Group discussions often highlight those with leadership skills. Those who stay at the forefront without ridiculing somebody else’s perspective are the ones that are most likely to keep the team together and come to mutually beneficial solutions in the event of disagreements and crises.
Conducting a successful group discussion
- Pick right
Choosing a good location with minimal noise and/or interventions is the best way to start. It is important to remember that effective communication flows when the employees face each other, and necessary seating arrangements should be made to accommodate it.
Give thought to the candidates you are actually conflicted about and put them in a group suitably. A badly formed team can be counter-productive to the evaluation process. Pick a topic that best covers every aspect of knowledge the position demands.
- Create a comfortable atmosphere
Introduce yourself and encourage the candidates to make the necessary introductions as well. Allow the team to fall into a comfortable zone, so that the nervous energy leaves the room and people actually communicate intelligent ideas in the discussion.
- Moderate, don’t participate
While evaluating, keep in mind to not put your thoughts into the ongoing discussion. Let the candidates figure out the flaws, and the benefits of the approach among themselves, if you actually want to identify leadership skills. To judge well, create parameters and mark the applicants accordingly.