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4 Reasons Panel Interviews Work So Well

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Team of employees sitting around a table in a meeting having a discussion.

Conducting a panel interview the right way can yield great results. When it’s a team effort, each person gains a different insight and perspective that can be helpful in making a final decision on a candidate.

Why Conduct Panel Interviews?

Panel interviews offer great benefits. Here is a list of reasons why panel interviews are so effective:

You have more reason to stay on track. As long as you have a basic plan to avoid confusion, the need to accommodate other interviewers – and perform well in front of them – can help keep you on task and focused.

Avoid letting personal feelings affect judgment. Getting feedback from multiple people who also participated in the interview is helpful. It can help you look past your less objective judgments.

Multiple perspectives. Panels mean that others are hearing the same responses – but in their own way. Others may catch something you didn’t, or perhaps better understand some technical questions.

Others can learn for you. You can show other panelists what you have learned from your research into hiring and questioning techniques. Equally, you may find that you can learn from the others. This will improve overall hiring efficacy.

However, some avoid panel interviews for three major reasons:

  • They think they are less effective than one-on-one interviews.
  • They think they lead to disagreement and tension.
  • They think it’s not worth the time – or they have trouble getting everyone to make time.

Plan How to Conduct a Panel Interview

One of the easiest ways to make a panel interview go wrong is to go in without a plan. Panel interview difficulties often come from the interviewers’ dynamics rather than issues related to the candidate.

Avoid personal conflicts and confusion by discussing the following details in advance:

Get an idea of who asks what, and when. As you interview, candidate’s responses will inspire new questions. For your main questions, however, there is no reason you can’t make a general plan with your fellow interviewers. Define your roles. Even consider distributing a list of questions if you have reason to worry.

Understand the job and agree on what you’re looking for. You should have a good understanding of your priorities. Discuss the key requirements of the job so everyone understands what to listen for and expand upon. This is especially important if some interviewers are unfamiliar with the role or department in question.

Agree on etiquette. Surprisingly enough, simple courtesy and timing issues cause many panel interviews to go poorly. Basics like not interrupting each other (or the candidate), arriving on time, and making smooth introductions are important. They improve the chance of getting good information and presenting a professional image.

Decide who will answer candidate’s questions. It may be obvious who will answer a particular question. For others, everyone may feel they have a right to respond. If you want to answer or be in charge of directing untargeted questions, make it clear before the interview.

Panel interviews can offer more accurate assessments and help you avoid interview pitfalls. Create a plan, discuss the job thoroughly with panelists, and avoid simple mistakes that might result in confusion. With these steps, you can make the most of panel interviews.

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