A series of 30-minute, back-to-back, one-on-one interviews is a surefire way to hire the wrong person. Everyone will learn far more about a candidate than ever thought possible in a well-organized panel interview.
When organized properly, panel interviews are a great tool for saving time, giving weaker interviewers an opportunity to participate, avoiding hiring mistakes including hiring someone who normally would have been excluded, and increasing assessment accuracy.
1. The impact of first impressions and personality biases are minimized.
Biases of any type tend to lead the individual interviewers down a path of asking questions designed to confirm the bias. A structured group interview with a pre-planned set of questions prevents everyone from going off-track.
2. Interviewing accuracy is improved dramatically.
A structured interview using accomplishment-based questions and behavioral fact-finding allows the entire team to collectively determine if the candidate is competent to do the actual work, motivated to do it, and is a fit with the team and company culture.
3. Weaker interviewers and potential subordinates can voice their opinion in a controlled setting.
While it's often important for a subordinate to meet a potential boss, one-on-one interviews are often awkward, with personality and hidden agendas usually dominating the assessment. Participating in a panel also gives weaker interviewers a chance to learn how to properly conduct a Performance-based Interview.
4. It changes the focus from yes/no voting to a deliberative evidence-based assessment.
Since everyone is hearing the same information, the assessment is much more about how to interpret the evidence, not about generic competencies and whether the person was smart, likeable, and assertive enough.
5. Candidates get a chance to better understand the job and how potential future co-workers interact.
The best people want to work with liked-minded professionals. A well-organized, professional panel interview provides this added benefit.
It's worth noting, though, that not every interviewing panel will do the job when it comes to securing the best hires. The good news is that there are steps you can take to make sure it does. I'll elaborate on those in my next column.