panel Interviews are a necessary part of the hiring process for organizations. They provide insight for both employers and candidates into who is the best fit for a role.
Thus, it is essential to know what options are available and how you can use interviews to hire the best person to join your team.
In many instances, panel interviews are the best way to do this. Panel interviews are great tools for the likes of reducing bias in hiring and determining culture fit.
Following is an all to know guide on panel interviews for employers.
What is a panel interview?
A panel interview is where a potential job candidate is brought in front of multiple representatives from an organization. Typically they look like an interview between two and five representatives and one candidate at the same time. However, it is not unheard of to have upwards of 5 representatives present.
While there is usually a lead interviewer, all representatives take turns asking questions. These representatives often come from different areas within the organization and ask questions related to their specific background.
Pros and cons of panel interviews
Like all interview styles, panel interviews have their advantages and disadvantages. These are important for organizations to take into consideration when choosing the right interview style to use.
Several advantages include:
They bring multiple perspectives
Having multiple representatives present in the interview process is a significant benefit to panel interviews. Not only do various interviewers ask a diverse range of questions, but they also generate individual judgments that can be used to compare and find the most suitable candidate. This is particularly important when comparing two similar candidates.
Reduced bias
In one on one interviews, it is common for bias to impact candidate likability and decision making in some way. In a panel interview setting, bias is reduced as multiple perspectives and opinions are taken into account. Making it more challenging for subconscious influences to impact significantly on final decisions.
Determine the culture fit
During one on one interviews, it is hard to assess whether a candidate will be a good fit in a team from how well they get along with one employee. However, it is much easier to assess when in a panel interview, as many employees can interact and judge who the best candidate is.
The ability to ask questions about a candidate’s motivations, personality, etc. only further enables these judgments to be made about culture fit.
Some disadvantages are:
Risk of disagreements amongst interviewers
One risk in panel interviews is interviewers having disagreements with each other. Especially where goals amongst the panelists are different, they interrupt each other when asking questions or disagree on who is best for the role. This is best resolved by having a lead interviewer who directs and organizes the panel throughout the process.
Stressful environment for interviewees
Another risk in panel interviews and one that employers should consider is that it is stressful for candidates. While this has benefits such as seeing how candidates react under pressure, it can also have a significant adverse impact. Candidates who would be successful in the role but interview poorly can be overshadowed by less desirable candidates who interview well.
Setting up a panel interview
1. Decide on how many people to interview
Interviews are expensive, and resource taxing to run. Not only does each interviewer need to be paid for their time, but work comes to a halt during this process. This means limiting the number of candidates and time spent interviewing is crucial.
However, jobs are becoming more accessible than ever to apply for. It takes candidates only a few clicks to upload and submit their cover letters and resume through online websites and apps. Consequently, this brings pros and cons for employers. While it is crucial to tap into the available talent pool, it is hard to uncover the resume spammers and the candidates who misrepresent themselves, in large volumes of applications. This makes it tedious and time-consuming to go through and narrow down the interview list.
Using systems that filter-out the top talent employers can save time and resources. By introducing pre-employment testing, employers can achieve this and separate candidates with the adequate skill set needed to perform the role well.
Pre-employment assessments like an aptitude test or an accounting test are great ways to narrow down and guide how many candidates to interview.
2. Get to know your candidates
One of the best uses of time going into interviews is getting to know the candidates beforehand. In taking the time to go over the resources that a candidate has provided, asking questions that a candidate has already provided answers to can be avoided.
Furthermore, knowing candidates’ areas of relevant experience and expertise can guide the type of questions employers choose to ask.
Therefore, each panelist having revised such resources before an interview is necessary to make the best use of everyone’s time.
3. Prep your interview questions
Preparing a list of interview questions is a necessary step when preparing for a panel interview. As time is spread out between interviewers, creating a list of main points that need to be addressed is a way to use the limited time effectively.
One way to prepare interview questions is by first going over the job description to identify needed skills. From here, by using the description as a guideline, questions can be developed to assess candidate ability.
When creating these questions, important factors panelists should consider include what is already known about a candidates’ experience and expertise. This information can raise interesting points worth questioning further or clarifying. It is also valuable to cross-check with other panelists, so questions do not occur multiple times.
Being prepared to answer candidates’ questions is also just as important. As candidates use the interview as part of their own evaluation, it is equally important to be capable of answering questions. Brushing up on knowledge about both the organization and the role in question beforehand is a great way to prepare.
4. Let candidates know results within a reasonable timeframe
Finally, it is vital to send out emails to candidates letting them know whether they have or have not received the position. As candidates are also evaluating organizations during the interview process, keeping candidates in the know, and building a positive candidate experience must be executed. Emails being sent out within two weeks tends to be an acceptable amount of time.