The official blog of Abacus Group — a place to share our knowledge and thoughts on trends in recruiting

December 08, 2017

How to Successfully Conduct a Panel Interview


Panel interviews are often better alternatives to one-on-one interviews because they provide a more subjective format since each interviewer gives his or her valuations of the candidate based on the same encounter. Panel interviews tend to be easier to organize as it is difficult to organize several individual sessions with an applicant. A panel interview also allows for several decision-makers to see the same performance from an applicant, which is more likely to deduce a consensus.

However, the success of the panel interview is very much dependent on how it is executed.

Who is your ideal candidate?

Preparation for the panel interview is paramount to ensuring it runs smoothly and derives the best results, all the while ensuring that the candidate gets the best impression of your firm. All interviewers need to be on the same page in regards to what skills and traits the ideal candidate possess. Using the job description as a foundation, it helps to put together an outline of your ideal candidate. Besides stipulating characteristics and qualifications, make note of specific goals and expectations for the individual in the role. Make sure panelists are armed with copies of the resumes, cover letters and job description, on top of an outline of the ideal candidate.

What role is each panelist playing?

It is essential there is a facilitator of the panel interview. Often this role is determined far before the interview itself as this individual is responsible for coordinating the interview at first instance. This individual doesn’t necessarily need to be the most senior or highest ranked employee on the panel, however, they must be skilled with building rapport with candidates and interviewing. Each panelist should have questions for the interviewee that are relevant to their future relationship together; this shows an added interest and that the panelist is invested in hearing the response.

What will be done outside the interview room?

Make sure there is a behind-the-scenes meeting ahead of time to ensure that all panelists are prepared. This collaboration will help to ensure that questions are allocated appropriately and that there is an agreeance about the profile of their ideal candidate. You don’t want there to be chatting amongst panelists during the interview so meeting beforehand is imperative to having a disruption-free interview. Set aside time between interviews for another meeting to speak about the interview and also ensure that interviews are not running into each other. Each interview should be equally and fairly treated.

There is no strict guideline to the conducting of a panel interview. Interviews typically vary from industry and company. What is important is that all panelists understand the agenda and that the interviews run seamlessly.

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