Tips For Conducting A Successful Panel Interview


Panel interviews may be the best way to garner different perspectives on prospective hires, and they can also be an effective way to evaluate the varied strengths and assets of the candidate through an internal dialogue. A common concern with panels is that they can come across as interrogatory, making applicants uncomfortable and negatively impacting their impressions of the company. However, when done correctly, panel interviews have distinct advantages and can be a useful tool to assess the best fit for a team among prospective hires.

Some tips for conducting a successful panel interview include the following:

Perks Of A Panel Interview Process

Panels allow you to glean many insights into prospective candidates by soliciting the input and impressions of a diverse group of cohorts and colleagues. This eliminates the timely process of reiterating interview information to others when deciding to hire for a position on your team. Panel interviews also offer the benefit of developing a rounded view of a candidate from multiple perspectives. Furthermore, a panel interview allows you to hasten the hiring process, reducing the chance of losing a great candidate to another company.

Putting Together Your Panel

Ideally, an interviewing panel is comprised of at least three, and no more than five or six, people from the organization. Avoid adding any members to the panel that are not integral and relevant to the process. In other words, don’t add panel members simply to assemble your panel. Ask members to be prepared with questions specific to their area of interest or expertise. For instance, you may want to ask a human resources representative to prepare questions related to work habits or expected absences. Conversely, a sales associate should ask about techniques or skill-sets related to business development.

Best Practices For A Panel Interview

Unlike a one-on-one interview process, a panel interview can go downhill fast if the members of the panel aren’t all on the same page. Many job applicants report common issues occurring in panel interviews such as:

  • Panel members competing to ask questions
  • Panel members talking over one another
  • Panel members not giving the candidate sufficient time to talk freely about themselves and their qualifications.

Because a panel interview can feel more interrogative than a one-on-one interview, candidates may be more defensive or uncomfortable and less likely to provide revealing and honest responses. Keep this in mind as you move forward.

Be sure that your panel is prepared in advance, is professional, and arrives on-time. The interview space should be tidy and ready prior to the meeting commencing. Giving the candidate the impression that they are expected and welcomed goes a long way in attracting prospective hires to your team.

Making The Most Of Your Time

To be sure the interview covers the areas needed and allows for ample assessment of the candidate, Delegate questions or tasks to the panel members to prevent wasted time asking repetitive questions, and ensure that one panel member doesn’t monopolize the interview. Agree on a time frame and schedule for the interviews that permits each panel member to participate. Be sure to fully discuss and share details of the position with the panel, so that they are in the best position to evaluate the applicants for the specific job requirements. If possible, provide everyone- including the candidate- with a printed copy of the job description prior to the interview.

Other Tips For Panel Interviews

Keep in mind that an interview panel is being evaluated by the potential candidate during the interview process as well. A lot of markets are candidate-driven and prospective employees see an average of four companies before accepting a job offer. Make candidates feel welcomed and appreciated.

Provide your panel members with some sort of uniform score sheet with which to rate the candidates. This will serve as a gauge for comparing body language, skill-sets, personality, and communication later on.

Be sure to reserve time for the candidate to speak freely, or to ask questions related to the position. Curb any distractions or tangents that could impact the time-frame for the interview, and assign a chairperson to keep the interview on track as needed.

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