Friday, January 25, 2013

US vs YOU. Pros and Cons of the Panel Interview

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There are advantages and disadvantages to all interview formats.  Deciding how to conduct these candidate "meet & greets" relies on a wealth of factors: company industry, the position being filled, the position of the interviewer, interviewer personality, timeframe availability, etc.  There's also the small matter of "who will actually conduct the interview?"

You should aim to gain the opinion of more than one person before making a hiring decision, perhaps from all those that will eventually be working with the candidate.  However, what if you don't have the capability to perform numerous consecutive interviews or the opportunity to bring the candidate back for follow-up meetings?  The longer the hiring process, the higher the probability that the applicant may find another position (don't assume you are the only one they are interviewing with).  The candidate could be travelling a long distance or this position could be one that your organization needed filled yesterday…aah!  How are you supposed to complete a full recruitment cycle in such a short amount of time?

And then, a light bulb appears above your head (replacing the Arby's logo) and you exclaim, "A Panel Interview!"  What an excellent idea.  The standard panel interview, consisting of four or more people, can be a useful interviewing option when utilized correctly.

Pros and Cons
Pro: Saves time
Having numerous employees in your organization assessing the candidate at once eliminates numerous interviews and follow-ups, cutting down the length of the recruiting process.
Con: Less time to analyze candidate
By ridding the recruitment cycle of multiple interviews, candidates get one shot to pass or fail.  Great potentials could be flushed out of the process based on one sub-par meeting.

Pro: Minimizes variables influencing judgments
All interviewers see and hear one set of questions and answers.  Views on the candidate will differ amongst those attending the interview; however, those analyses will be based on the same information, received at the same time.

Con: Eliminates one-on-one comfort with candidate
A seasoned interviewer may have the ability to bring a more reserved candidate out of their shell, whereas a panel interview can be very intimidating to a more timid applicant.

Pro: Better assessment of candidate
While peers are asking questions and taking notes, you can listen intently to the answers given and analyze the candidate's body language.

Con: Opinion of expressive interviewers dominates
Those interviewers that are outspoken and opinionated can skew the views of others that aren't as willing to speak up. Some employees don't want to go against the grain, so they will agree with the thoughts of more dominant coworkers instead of offering honest opinions.

Pro: Intimidating to candidates
The requirement of impressing more than one person for a potential position will show how a candidate handles stress and reacts to added pressure.

Con: Less elaboration
Coming back to the meek interviewees, candidates that are intimidated or less comfortable interviewing with multiple managers at once, may keep their responses short, not feeling relaxed enough to expand upon their answers.
Taking into consideration all points, in the end, a panel interview may be the best choice for you.  Use the following tips to ensure the best possible outcome with this interview format:
  • Choose interviewers from varying departments, backgrounds, personalities, etc., to gain more diverse perspectives.
  • Get organized.  Make sure you have a formal set of agreed upon questions so that no one is talking over each other and the candidate understands where to direct their answers.
  • Introduce everyone at the onset.  That may seem like a no-brainer, but giving the candidate a little background on those attending the interview will set them more at ease and allow them to tailor their answers to the specific person asking the question.
  • Be sure not to get panel interview feedback from all interviews at once.  Ask each manager to send you a brief e-mail of their takeaways from the candidate meeting or schedule time with each interviewer one-on-one to gain feedback to eliminate the opinions of a few to influence the majority.


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