3 Stages For Great Caller Group Interviews

Elaine Ezrapour

October 12, 2015

I don’t know about you, but we are in the thick of phonathon interviewing and hiring season here at University of Rochester.  We have so many great applicants, and it’s certainly difficult to make choices. I recently wrote a post about one-on-one phonathon interviews, and I thought that now would be a perfect time to expand on the subject and touch upon phonathon group interviews. Here are some tips for conducting group interviews across the pre-interview, interview, and post-interview stages:

Pre-Interview Stage

  • Assess your applicants. Group interviews are most useful when there is a large number of applications to go through and not enough time to dedicate to one-on-one conversations. I found that a good rule of thumb is to have no less than 3 and no more than 6 candidates in a group interview, so ensure that your number of applications coincides with hitting this sweet spot. Offer an appropriate amount of group interview times so that you get your target number of candidates in each slot.
  • Invite everyone! You are already going to dedicate the time to hosting the group interviews, so why not invite everyone who applied that meets the bare minimum requirements for the job? There are definitely people who will shine in the interview setting who did not make a strong impression in the application itself, so get at ‘em!doodle2
  • Doodle. Doodle. Doodle…. did I mention Doodle? If you don’t already know about Doodle, prepare for your world to be rocked. Doodle is a scheduling platform that will make your life 1,000% easier, so commit it to memory (or even better, bookmark the link!). When it comes to organizing group interviews, Doodle can help coordinate multiple candidates with multiple interview time-slots. So pop in your info and circulate the link to your applicants! Pro tip: limit the number of candidates per time slot to 6 people so that you don’t have more people in each interview than you can reasonably focus on.

Interview Stage

  • Invite candidates in. As the applicants trickle in, have them wait for you. I always pretend to be occupied with something for a few minutes past the interview start time, while I secretly focus my attention their way. Which candidate is initiating conversations with the others? What are they talking about, and is it appropriate? How are they dressed, and it is suitable for an interview? These details are important in assessing their candidacy.
  • Start with a quick intro. After briefly introducing yourself, lay down the law of the group interview. Encourage everyone to speak freely (no hand raising needed!), and emphasize that people don’t need to answer each question addressed. Do you want to hire someone who doesn’t feel the need to answer your questions? I think not.
  • Ask some basic questions. Before discussing the job itself, start off with simple questions to get the students thinking about the nature of the position and get the ball rolling. Examples:

         How much money do we raise in a year?

         What percentage of people pledge over the phone?

         What do we raise money for?

         How many times do we ask people for money within one phone conversation?

         What is our starting ask?

WARNING: the array of answers you hear will crack you up! 0% of people make gifts over the phones, yet we raise $100 billion dollars each year by asking for $1 million dollars as the first ask? This is a great time to help students wrap their heads around what will really happen when the phones start dialing.interview2

  • Make a longer introduction to the position. At this point in time, I like to emphasize that this job is difficult and not everyone is cut out for it, as evident by some of the questions we just answered (this is an important step, as it ties into the interview wrap up!). I then review housekeeping items – scheduling, compensation, expectations, etc.
  •  Ask the bigger questions. It is time for some more questions, which will help you to assess candidates’ ability to speak clearly and thoughtfully. Any questions that will demonstrate how they can build an argument is perfect for this stage of the group interview.
  • Wrap it up. I conclude with the same wrap up as I implement in my one-on-one interviews. If candidates think that they can overcome the challenges of the job (discussed earlier), commit to the schedule, and handle rejection with ease, they should email me to confirm. This is my favorite step, because it weeds out ill-fitting students and drastically helps with retention down the line. I cannot overemphasize you how important this step has been to me in increasing my caller retention.

Post-Interview Stage

Who should your hire? This is going to depend on your particular program and what you are looking for, but here are some questions to consider:

  • Who was always one of the first to try to answer your questions?
  • Who talked the most?
  • Who provided robust, articulate responses to your questions?
  • Who seemed to “get it” when it came to fundraising?
  • Who spoke enthusiastically with a fluctuating, clear voice that will translate to the phones nicely?
  • Who was responsive to what you or other group members said and showed evidence of being able to listen and think on their feet?

If you have people who hit all or most of these marks, they are your winners! Make sure that you have built in time immediately following each interview to make notes about each candidate. Especially with group interviews, it is easy for people to blend in your mind at the end of the day.

Happy hiring, everyone!

Check out these other posts about recruiting, hiring and motivating callers:

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