How to get the most out of panel interviews

These simple tips will set your business and the candidate up for a positive experience

How to get the most out of panel interviews

by Jay Munro

A panel interview may not always be the right way to assess the best candidate. For example, if the role needs candidates to be able to build strong relationships, it might be hard to tell if this is a strength of theirs in a panel situation.

A more intimate one-on-one interview is more likely to test the candidate’s interpersonal skills.

When interviewing is a team effort, however, these simple tips will set your business and the candidate up for a positive experience.

1. Is a panel interview the right approach in this case?
If the role requires candidates to be able to thrive under pressure from a variety of stakeholders, then a panel interview can be a great way to test their aptitude for quick-thinking problem-solving under pressure.

Before committing to a panel interview, take some time to think about the responsibilities attached to the role to see if this approach will help you identify the candidate’s suitability to the job.

READ MORE: Quirky interview questions from CEOs

2. Choose your panellists carefully
As a general rule, try to keep the number of panellists to a minimum of three and a maximum of five interviewers.

When choosing your panellists, think about who in the organisation could offer valuable insight into the candidate’s skills and whether they’re the right fit for the role, team and company.

For example, choosing the hiring manager and a team member who would be working closely with the candidate for your interview panel will benefit both you and the candidate. In fact, 36% of job seekers claim that having an interview with the hiring manager and other potential teammates can help them develop a positive connection with the company.

Other suitable members of the panel would be the relevant department lead and someone from the HR team. But make sure they understand the role you’re looking to fill and are fully invested in the recruitment process.

3. Give each panellist a role
Give each panellist a role to help create some structure and organisation before, during and after the panel interview.

Choose one panellist to lead the interview —they’re the person who will welcome the candidate, introduce the panel members, explain the format of the interview and outline next-steps.

Create a loose script for the interview so each panellist knows their role. Things like who will ask which questions, when each panel member will ask their questions and who will respond to any questions from the candidate. Make sure this is all organised before the panel interview.

4. Let the candidate know it’s a panel interview
A job interview is stressful at the best of times, so it’s only fair that candidates are made aware in advance that they’ll be interviewed by multiple people. Furthermore, 13% of Australian job seekers state that they’re more likely to trust a company they’ve applied to when the hiring manager or recruiter shares relevant information and expectations about the interview process.

Keep candidates in the loop when it comes to the format of the interview – let them know it will involve a panel and tell them the names and job titles of the panellists, and any other useful information that will give them a better idea of who they will be meeting with.

5. Make the candidate feel welcome
A panel interview can be intimidating for job seekers so try to create an environment that is welcoming and helps to put candidates at ease.

Prepare the interview room well before the interview and make sure it’s tidy and comfortable. Ask the panel members to arrive early to avoid the interruption of latecomers when the interview does begin.

When the candidate arrives, ensure someone is there to welcome them and take them to the interview space.

Panel interviews can be a great way to identify your next great hire. By taking the time to prepare both the panel members and candidate for a panel interview, you’ll make the most of this popular and effective format.

Jay Munro is Head of Career Insights at Indeed.

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