Mastering Panel Interviews: A Comprehensive Guide for Recruiters

Drew Whitehurst | February 29, 2024

On your marks. Get set. GO!

Companies are in a nose-to-nose race with their competitors, searching for top-level candidates and trying to scoop them up before someone else does.

Do you want to win the gold medal? Then you need to have the right recruitment process in place. Panel interviews can be your head start. When used appropriately, they can provide diverse perspectives in decision-making, minimize bias, create a more comprehensive assessment, and streamline scheduling.


What is a Panel Interview?

A panel interview is when two or more team members interview a candidate at the same time. The panel may consist of potential supervisors, managers, HR specialists, and other company decision-makers. Each team member plays a role in the interview process, with one acting as the facilitator. Other members take turns asking questions and all follow up with probing questions when necessary.


Advantages of Panel Interviews

  • Diverse Perspectives in Decision-Making: In a traditional one-on-one interview, candidate evaluation is the responsibility of one single individual. With a panel interview, responsibility is shared among team members and a multitude of perspectives can be incorporated in the conversation. Each panelist can assess the candidate from their own unique viewpoint leading to a more well-rounded assessment and improved hiring accuracy.
  • Minimize bias: Unfortunately, unconscious bias is unavoidable. But when you conduct a panel interview versus a one-on-one interview, the team of interviewers dilutes the bias. This results in a fairer, more objective assessment of a candidate.
  • More comprehensive assessment: Panelists all come to the table with varying expertise. The HR specialist may source a cultural fit while the CTO may be impressed with a specific tech skill that would be next level for the position. The combination allows for a more robust assessment of the candidate.
  • Streamlined scheduling: Rather than trying to find an hour here and an hour there for each interviewer, a panel interview allows all parties involved access to a candidate at one time, greatly speeding up the process, while also saving the candidate time.


Overcoming Challenges in Panel Interviews

Challenge #1 | Logistical issues: Syncing schedules with just one person can be difficult…Syncing four schedules can be a downright nightmare. Although this is a very real challenge to consider when choosing to conduct a panel interview, using a simple tool like interviewstream’s interview scheduler allows you to effortlessly sync calendars with your team and your candidate, self-selecting a time that works for all parties. Using an automated tool like this will save you the hassle of the dreaded back-and-forth emails.

Challenge #2 | Potential bias: Although panel interviews reduce the risk of bias, it is not without a team addressing it. If your interview does not have a structure, you run the risk of having unconscious bias skew your hiring decision. By simply creating a clear structure for the interview process and educating your panelists, you will help to eliminate bias from influencing decision-making.

Challenge #3 | Intimidation: Panel interviews are notorious for creating anxiety for candidates. They can be intimidating, heightening the candidate’s nerves and not giving you the best assessment of what might very well be your top candidate. But, there are several things you can do to make your candidate comfortable so you can get an honest, fair view.

  1. Start by giving your candidate clear expectations along with a set structure before the interview.
  2. When they walk in the door, be sure to greet them with a smile, creating a warm and friendly atmosphere.
  3. And most importantly, make sure your panelists are prepared and understand the importance of giving the candidate time to think and respond and make the room free of distractions (i.e. turn your phone on mute, etc).

If you simply take the time to consider the needs of the candidate and address them, you can ensure you get a clear, honest assessment.


Panel Interview Tips for Recruiters

If you address the above challenges, you are well on your way to conducting a successful panel interview. But here are a few more tips to ensure you get it done right:

  • Prepare, Prepare, Prepare: Prior to the interview, make sure all panelists have received and reviewed a copy of the candidate’s resume.
  • Create a comprehensive list of questions: Share the questions with the team of panelists, decide who is asking which questions, and agree to stick to the list. This creates a unified evaluation which is essential to creating a smooth process.
  • Limit your number of panelists: Too many panelists can be overwhelming for a candidate and can also disrupt the structure. Stick to two to four panelists to have a fair and balanced assessment.


Leveraging HR Tech in Panel Interviews

Panel interviews alone give you a head start, but leveraging your HR tech will surely put you ahead of the pack.

Start by combating logistical issues from the get-go. Use a tool like an interview scheduler to quickly and seamlessly schedule your interviews so you don’t lose out on top candidates to competing companies. Then, add in on demand or live video interviewing software to eliminate all geographical limitations, while keeping an engaging process. Next up, use AI Recruiting Assistant to create a list of great questions to structure your interview (Tip: you can also use the AI Assistant to create job descriptions, email drafts, social media posts, and more). And once you complete the interview, utilize interview insights for practical feedback to make data-driven decisions around how to improve your hiring process.

Essentially, there is a tool for every step of your panel interview process that can assist in simplifying your recruitment process and speeding it up.


Master the Panel Interview

In a fast-paced, competitive hiring market, we need to utilize all the tools we have at our disposal to win the top candidate. Panel interviews provide you with a diverse perspective, minimize bias, offer a more comprehensive assessment, and streamline your scheduling. Combined with the right tech tools, you are guaranteed to step over the finish line first.

Get your head start today! Schedule a live demo with interviewstream now.

About The Author

Drew Whitehurst is the Director of Marketing at interviewstream. He's been with the company since 2014 working in client services and marketing. He is an analytical thinker, coffee enthusiast, and hobbyist at heart.


interviewstream is dedicated to the success of more than 900 clients from K-12 school districts, emerging businesses, midsize companies, large enterprises, colleges, and universities.

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