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Panel Interview

It can seem like you are walking into a courtroom as a candidate walking into a panel interview. As the HR representative for your company it is easy to ensure a candidate feels comfortable and engages in conversation about their background and goals. This article covers what is a panel interview, should you conduct a panel interview, advantages, how to conduct one

What Is a Panel Interview?

A panel interview is when a candidate is interviewed by two or three decision makers. It can include the supervisor for the position, an HR representative, an executive, or a member of the team. Each person can ask the candidate about their background or goals.

Should You Conduct a Panel Interview?

A panel interview allows multiple decision makers to ask questions in one setting. The effectiveness of the panel interview depends on your preparation beforehand. There are, however, a few advantages and disadvantages to panel interviews.

Panel Interview Advantages

  • Time Saving. In a panel interview, more people get to ask their questions in one sitting. This saves time, as the candidate doesn’t have to return several times for multiple interviews.
  • Minimizes bias with increased collaboration. Each person on the panel will notice something unique about the interviewee that the other members do not. This will…

Panel Interview Disadvantages

  • Stressful on the candidates. A panel interview can seem like walking into a courtroom for the candidate when you want them to feel exactly the opposite. This can be a disadvantage because stressed candidates may not act like they normally would, creating a false impression of their mannerisms and obscuring whether or not they may be a good fit with the company.

How to Conduct a Panel Interview

1. Pick a Setting

Based on your circumstance, you will have to adjust to the resources you have. Ideally, conduct the interview around a round conference table or a setting that encourages a conversation between the panel members and the candidate.

2. Set a Time Limit: 60 minutes to 120 minutes

When you confirm the interview date and time with the candidate, tell them to plan on a longer interview and recommend bringing a bottle of water if they would like. Also, offer a bottle of water to them if they do not bring their own. You want them to be as comfortable as possible.

Before you begin the interview, introduce each member of the panel and let the candidate know that each person has questions they will be asking.

3. Ask Questions

Each member of the panel should ask the candidate questions relevant to the role to  assess their competency on the job. Each question should be job related. Avoid questions about personality that can lead to conscious bias and/or discrimination.

Questions to Ask During a Panel Interview

Let’s look at each potential decision maker and the questions they might ask a candidate in a panel interview.

Supervisor

The supervisor should be looking to see if they can successfully support this candidate and measure proficiency in relevant software and tools.

  • What kind of work environment do you succeed in?
  • Tell me about the best leader you have worked for?
  • Tell me about the worst leader you have worked for?
  • How do you prefer to receive feedback?
  • What do you love to do outside of work?
  • What is your proficiency in _____? (i.e. Microsoft Excel)

HR Representative

The HR representative  may only see this candidate during their first day and provide support with payroll or benefits inquiries. The following questions are standard and should be asked in every interview. Some questions should relate to company fit if an executive is not present in the interview.

  • Tell us about yourself?
  • Are you authorized to work in the United States for any employer?
  • Are you willing to undergo a background check if offered employment?
  • We want a safe work environment and practice random drug testing. Are you willing to submit to a drug test if offered employment?

Executive

In small businesses, the executives may want to be involved in the hiring because they want to ensure each person will support the vision of the company. In addition, they want people who can help build a culture that supports the vision of the organization.

Prior to the interview, confirm with the executives that they will attend the interview and inquire if they have questions they want to ask. If they do not have questions, offer that you can provide questions, but respect whatever response they give you. An executive may ask the following questions to assess a candidate’s fit within the company culture:

  • What can you tell me about our company?
  • The mission of our company is ______. What does this mean to you?
  •  One of our values is __________ . Can you tell us a time where you _______?
  • Describe yourself in three words.

An Employee in a Similar Position

An employee in a similar role can provide valuable insight if you and/or the hiring manager are at a crossroads regarding which candidate will be the best fit. Provide prewritten questions to avoid biased or discriminating questions.

  • Tell me a time when you had a difficult co-worker or boss and how did you handle it?
  • When you have a question about processes or procedures how do you go about finding the answer?
  • Describe a team environment you would thrive in.

When the Candidate Has Questions

  • If you can answer the question- awesome! If not- don’t panic, you got this. Any questions they have, leverage the panel in the room. Remember it is ok to say, “I don’t know”.

Questions You’ve Asked Us About Panel Interviews

How can I help candidates prepare for panel interviews?
Let them know as much detail as possible ahead of time. Inform candidates who they will be meeting with, location of the interview, where to park, and proper dress code.
How long should a panel interview be?
Target time for a panel interview should be around 60 minutes.
Ryan Archibald

Ryan Archibald

Ryan is the HR Director at Paul Davis Restoration of Utah with four years of experience and three masters degrees. One accomplishment he is proud of is the design and launch of a development program for 800+ employees.

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