In my experience as a recruiter, I have seen two main interview formats: one-on-ones and panel interviews. Panel interviewing allows multiple people to interview a candidate at the same time while one-one-ones consist of individual interviews with each candidate. So which is better? I have heard horror stories about why panel interviews are a bad format to use for hiring and assessing candidates.
But to be honest, to panel or not to panel, should not be a question. When organized properly, panel interviewing is more effective and efficient than traditional one-on-one interviews. We’ve all heard the cons regarding panel interviewing, so what are the pros?
Panels can save time and resources
If it is not already obvious, panels reduce the time it takes to hire a candidate. According to The Wall Street Journal, employers, on average, are taking 25 days to fill vacant positions, with the average increasing to 58.1 working days at companies with 5,000 or more employees. Factoring in the risk, time and resources needed to take candidates through a hiring process utilizing one-on-one interviews can have adverse outcomes on the bottom-line. Having numerous interviewers assess the candidate at the same time eliminates back-to-back interviews and follow-ups, which will result in cutting down on the time it to takes to hire someone.
Some might argue that a company spends more time coordinating a panel interview; and this, more times than not, results in a loss of a good candidate to other employers. But, this does not make one-on-one interviews more efficient. To avoid this, spend the time upfront to create a panel interviewing strategy as part of your hiring process. This upfront work will save you time down the line for future hires.
Panels offer a better assessment of the candidate
When there are structured roles and a mix of accomplished-based and behavioral interview questions, panel interviewing can help to create a better, overall accurate portrayal of the candidates’ experience, motivations and potential to fit within the company culture.
Panel interviewing allows time to listen intently and better analyze the candidate’s body language and answers when other interviewers are asking questions. Additionally, since roles and responsibilities are structured in advance, it ensures all of the right questions are asked and that the panel can focus on different aspects of the candidate’s expertise.
Panels ensure that biases tend to be minimized
Because the panel is made up of different viewpoints and levels of expertise, each panel member offers a unique assessment of the candidate, which results in a more objective interviewing format. Having multiple panel members often leads to fresh perspectives. Different panel members might inquire about specific answers in more detail lending itself to important information – questions that, other panel members might have not thought to ask.
Additionally, multiple interviewers allow for a better weighted and productive conversation following the interview because all impressions are based off of the same experience with the candidate. Active discussion allows for the panel to address concerns and bring all thoughts to the table – helping to come to an unprejudiced decision.
BONUS FOR CANDIDATES: Panels provide candidates a view of what it is like to work for the company
A well-organized and professional panel gives the impression that the company runs smoothly and efficiently. How the panel interacts with one another also gives sense to how effectively individuals at the company work together. Candidates often leave panel interviews with a better understanding of the job and company culture, and that helps them to immediately assess whether or not they would be a good fit.
At the end of the day, preparation is crucial when conducting a panel interview. The horror stories I have read about panel interviewing come from individuals that did not take the time to formally structure the panel. Make sure each panel member understands not only their role in the interview and what types of questions to ask, but also the job description and core qualifications the candidate should possess. Adequate planning and coaching can lend to better results and a clearer understanding about what the company is trying to achieve by hiring for the role in the first place.
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