what is a panel interview?
A panel interview is a job interview in which a candidate is interviewed by a group of interviewers rather than a single individual. The interview helps assess a candidate's skills and qualifications. The panel members for a job interview may contain:
- Hiring managers or relevant people from within the team
- HR specialists
- Managers from other departments
- Representatives from different company locations
- Industry experts
Almost all industries use panel interviews to hire candidates, especially for senior roles. However, panel interviews are more common in government, medical, and corporate jobs.
why should you conduct panel interviews?
When searching for the right talent for an important role, you want to ensure you make the best choice possible. A panel interview allows you to draw on the collective knowledge and experience of several people rather than relying on the opinion of a single individual. It enables you all to consider how that individual may work in collaboration with other departments alongside the team they will be working within.
Multiple decision-makers in the company can interview the candidate together, reducing the need for repeat visits. This also benefits the candidate as it enables them to meet other personalities across the business, giving them an idea as to what the culture of the business is like. This helps to reduce the duration of the hiring process and gives the candidate a better understanding of the business that they will be joining.
A panel interview also helps you see how the candidate deals with multiple people at once. For example, if the role they're applying for is customer-facing, it also allows you to see how they interact with different types of personalities.
when to conduct panel interviews.
A panel interview might not be suitable for every role in your company. A one-on-one interview might be more efficient if the job is entry-level or doesn't require a lot of qualifications or requires the individual to work closely with other departments.
You should also consider the type of questions you'll ask. If you want to get in-depth answers, a panel interview might not be the best format. Instead, opt for a panel interview when recruiting for a senior role or a position that requires multiple skills requires teams to work very closely together or even results in a dotted line responsibility to another department.
how to conduct panel interviews.
Planning is essential for a successful panel interview. Here's an example process.
step 1: select the interviewers
The first step is to identify the interviewers. The interview team usually consists of people from different levels within the company. It's essential to have a balance of perspectives. Here are some people who can be on an interview panel:
- Hiring managers
- HR representatives
- Members of the team that the candidate would be working with
In most cases, the hiring manager asks fundamental questions in the interview. They also set the tone for the interview while other panelists act as SMEs (subject matter experts). They can ask specific questions about the role, the team, and the company that only they would know.
It is also important to have a diverse interview panel in terms of age, gender, ethnicity etc. This will reduce the potential for unconscious bias to influence your decision making and will also help candidates to feel more relaxed.
Make sure you keep the same panel for each interview to make the process as fair as possible.
step 2: establish the format and structure
Once you've selected the interviewers, you need to decide on the format and structure of the panel interview. It includes:
- How long each interviewer will speak for
- What type of questions will they ask
- The order of the questions
The format and structure help to keep the panel interview organized and flowing. It also saves time since people won't be speaking over each other.
step 3: prepare the panel members
Before scheduling the interview, make sure to prep the panel members. They should know and ensure they have read:
- The candidate's CV
- The job description
- Their background
- The area of business they have to ask questions about
By preparing the panel members, you can avoid any awkwardness or confusion during the interview. Make sure everyone on the team reviews the candidate's CV beforehand. As much as the candidate needs to prepare for an interview, so should you as the recruiter. This enables the candidate to get the best experience possible and demonstrates that you are interested in the candidate and what they have to offer.
step 4: choose the right questions
Asking the right questions is essential for a successful panel interview. The questions should be:
- Relevant to the job
- Aligned with the company's values
- Standardised for all candidates
It will help you reduce hiring bias and ensure everyone is on the same page. You might want to consider some competency-based questions to assess candidates' skills and experience.
step 5: introduce all panel members
When the candidate arrives, introduce all panel members. Let the candidate know who they'll speak to and their role within the company. It will help the candidate curate their answers accordingly.
step 6: take turns asking questions
A panel shouldn't intimidate or overwhelm the candidate. To prevent this, take turns asking questions. That way, the candidate can focus on one person at a time.
You can decide beforehand who will ask the first question. Then, the person to the left of the first member can go next. The process continues until all panel members have asked their questions.
Here's a nine-point checklist for best recruitment practices in case you need more guidance.
find the best talent through a joint effort.
A panel interview is your best bet in finding the most qualified candidate. By working together, you can ask the right questions and assess all areas of expertise.
With hireful, you can automate interview scheduling to save time and ensure the candidates know when to show up. Likewise, you can update candidates automatically, reducing your email load.
Moreover, hireful lets you create diversity and inclusion reports to select talent and interview them without hiring bias. Schedule a 15-minute call to learn how hireful can make the panel interview process successful and bias-free for you.