Interviewing: Don’t Go It Alone

Hiring is perhaps the most important function that your company performs.  So, it’s not uncommon for companies to bring candidates in to interview at least twice (and sometimes three times or more) before making this all-important decision.

An increasingly common technique being utilized today is the panel interview – where a group of employees interview the candidate together. One person is designated ahead of time to facilitate the interview, but all the interviewers are expected and encouraged to ask the job-related questions they might have.

When handled correctly, panel interviews have the potential to be incredibly beneficial for the company – even more so than traditional interviewing methods, since group decision-making generally yields better results than when just one or two people decide.

Due to the collaborative nature of work today, leaders from many departments in your company have a big stake in the hiring process, regardless of which area the potential employee would be most involved.  In addition, bringing many of your team members together to meet with the candidate at the same time is an efficient way to conduct your process.

Panel interviews offer your company the ability to attain multiple perspectives at once. Even the most prepared interviewer won’t consider every question to ask, so it’s helpful to have a handful of minds in the room to contribute. Panel interviewing can also reduce the biases that naturally creep in when interviewers are evaluating a person’s skill set.

Additionally, panel interviews can give interviewing experience to employees who might not otherwise have the opportunity.  Participating on a panel can be a terrific developmental opportunity for your less experienced employees who have their eyes on future leadership roles.

From the candidate’s perspective, panel interviewing allows them to observe team dynamics and organizational norms.  The candidate has the opportunity to get a crash course in multiple areas of the company and even envision how they may fit in, if hired.

However, there can be some downsides of panel interviewing.  Even though the process allows your team members to gain experience in interviewing, it is risky to throw untrained staffers into the proverbial fire.  The last thing you want is for candidates to perceive YOU as unprepared or ill-informed.  So, make sure that all interviewers have basic interviewing knowledge, even if just a legal understanding of what you can and cannot ask candidates.

The inherent setup of panel interviewing can be intimidating for candidates.  And while it can be valuable to have a sneak preview of how a candidate reacts under pressure, even the coolest customer can be flustered by a group of people questioning them.  A particularly aggressive panel interview can be daunting for anyone, and would not necessarily produce an accurate assessment of a person’s true colors.  So, remember that the interview should be a discussion and not an inquisition.

If your business values collaboration, teamwork, and building a strong, communicative team, then you then consider introducing panel interviews into your hiring process!

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