Host an Outstanding Panel Interview

Posted on: February 16th, 2017
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Hosting outstanding panel interviews are key to showcasing your company culture while “selling” your candidate on your company as a great place to work. By using the below tips, you will learn how to strengthen your panelists, give the candidate a feel for team dynamics, increase your objectivity when evaluating the candidate resulting in saving time in your interview process.

Discovering the right candidate in today’s tight market is tough. Showcasing your company culture while including your team ensures that both the candidate and the employer generate the best hiring decision.

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First, let’s determine what type of panel interview you want to conduct:

  • Formal
    • This formal style of panel interview includes 2-5 employees to interview the candidate. This is a great way to save time while showing the candidate team dynamics. At CFO Strategic Partners, we utilize this method as the final interview stage. Furthermore, a panel interview works best when each panelist has a set of pre-set questions ahead of time that relate to the position. Accordingly, there is an assigned “lead interviewer” to lead the discussion (this avoids having too many “Chiefs” with not enough “Indians”).

  • Casual
    • Conducting an interview over lunch, dinner, or coffee is a fantastic way to gain a feel for the candidate’s personality while creating an opportunity to “let their guard down”. This method is most effective peer-to-peer, as candidates are comfortable to ask questions they may not ask in a formal setting. Use a casual interview style in determining culture fit for your organization.
  • The Sales Pitch
    • In a variety of client-serving positions, a “sales pitch” interview is a way to gauge the candidate’s presentation skills along with how they perform under pressure. In this setting, you give the candidate a topic to research, ahead of time, as well as ask them to prepare a presentation. This type of interview is great for roles that will require client presentations, sales, marketing, or leadership positions.

 

Now that you have determined the type of panel, let’s start preparing your chosen panelists. As a rule, never assume your panelists know how to interview. Consequently, give them clear guidelines to follow.

  • Prepare for the Panel Interview:

Review the candidate’s resume and job description; come prepared with your questions to evaluate the key hiring indicators.

  • Assign a Panel Leader; everyone else is a Fact-Finder.

An aspect of the Panel Interview is to hear the candidate describe their professional accomplishments that are comparable to those listed in the job description. This involves a great deal of behavioral fact-finding to ‘peel the onion’ to further understand the candidate’s true role in their former positions. The fact-finders need to ask follow-up questions. The leader can ask these follow-up questions, too, but the other panelists can’t change the topic or take over the process. This format helps the flow of the interview while keeping the questions organized.

  • Schedule a re-cap on candidate feedback immediately after the interview with the Hiring Managers.

Evaluating the candidate should be concise, professionally focused, and constructive.

 

When done right, panel interviews are powerful tools for a diagnostic of candidates that match your company culture and have the right technical skills for your position. By meeting multiple employees in a group setting, candidates are able to learn about team dynamics and company culture more accurately than one-on-one interviews.

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