When you first embark on interviewing a series of potential candidates, the panel interview is quite appealing. Get all the important company representatives in a room to consider each candidate, then move successful candidates through the process without scheduling a bunch of extra meetings.
Two birds, one stone, right?
Except that, much like any hiring tool, the panel interview has very specific pros and cons associated with it. And if you don't use it intentionally or in the right situations, you can end up introducing all sorts of negative consequences into your hiring process. Before choosing a panel interview structure, it's important to consider the various advantages and disadvantages to determine whether it is the most effective format for the particular situation and provides a positive candidate experience.
Here are the pros and cons of a panel interview you'll want to think about before you run your first candidate by a group:
Pros of Using Panel Interviews
When is it a good time to use panel interviews, and when will they lead to the best hire? When you're trying to focus on the following outcomes:
- Panels with representatives from different backgrounds and departments minimize bias. A diverse panel composed of a group that differs in age, gender, seniority level, and positions will be less likely to experience bias than an individual interviewer.
- A team of interviewers leads to excellent questions. Panelists can collaborate before the interview to determine the most effective and comprehensive interview questions to ask. Each interviewer can focus on a different aspect of a candidate's background and skills during the interview, allowing the group to address a wide variety of topics. And, having multiple people participate in the interview can ultimately provide a more accurate evaluation of a candidate.
- Understand how a candidate handles group dynamics. A panel interview structure provides the opportunity to assess how a candidate handles group dynamics. They are particularly effective when interviewing candidates for customer-facing positions that require excellent people skills.
- When you want to improve the efficiency of the hiring process. Panel interviews are efficient and allow companies to shorten the overall time to hire. And not only does quicker time to hire provide cost-savings benefits but filling your open roles faster will help increase productivity.
- Introduce candidates to company culture. Meeting with a variety of people will help your candidates better understand the company culture earlier in the hiring process, which will enhance the candidate experience.
Cons of Using Panel Interviews
When can panel interviews be a distracting choice, or perhaps even introduce problems into the hiring process? In the following situations:
- When there's potential for group dynamics to create bias. The reactions of one interviewer can affect the others' perceptions, resulting in groupthink. This phenomenon occurs when a group of individuals come to a consensus without critical reasoning or considering the consequences or alternatives. Conversely, an individual with a more dominant personality may end up monopolizing the interview, steering it in a particular direction, or preventing other panelists from engaging.
- When candidates are introverted or not comfortable with an audience. Some candidates may find the panel interview format intimidating and end up underperforming. This can potentially lead to missed hiring opportunities for the company and may result in a negative candidate experience, ultimately harming the employer brand.
- If the process has too many people and is distracting. Because each interviewer on the panel has less time to interact with the candidate directly, their impressions and takeaways may be different from conducting an individual interview. Having to divide the time among multiple panelists may not provide the ability to go deeper on a particular subject, which could hurt hiring decisions.
- Lack of structure can affect candidate evaluation. If the panel fails to adhere to the agreed-upon process for feedback and evaluation, it can negatively impact decision-making. While seemingly harmless, informal discussions among the panel after the interview concludes can sway sentiment, resulting in inaccurate candidate assessment.
No one interview format's the best or the worst. Ultimately, companies need to determine whether the benefits of panel interviews outweigh the potential issues and enable you to make the best hire possible for their unique organization. It's worth slowing down to make this choice intentionally, knowing that it will affect the candidate experience, the length of the hiring process, your employer brand, and, of course, the candidates who make it through the process successfully.
Glassdoor helps companies attract the right candidates in order to make the interview process more productive.Contact us to learn more.