What is a Panel Interview (and When Are They Useful)?

Monique Mahler | January 12, 2024

Every recruiter—and, probably, every job applicant—knows that there is no such thing as a “simple” interview. And when you’re looking to fill a role with an ideal candidate, knowing how many types of interviews are available—and which to use, when—is a critical component in a successful hiring strategy.

Panel interviews have grown in popularity over the years, as companies lean more heavily on collaboration and put greater emphasis on the importance of building an engaged culture. But they don’t all look the same, and they aren’t always the best option to get to know your candidates.

Here’s a quick look at what defines a panel interview, when they can be most useful, and how to set your hiring team up for success in these conversations.


What is a panel interview?

Put simply, a panel interview is one in which a single candidate is interviewed by multiple members of the hiring organization in one sitting.

Sometimes these are pretty informal conversations. Everyone gathers in a room or virtual meeting and holds a back-and-forth discussion based on questions posed by members of the panel.

In other cases, there is more formality built into the conversation. The panel might take more distinct turns posing a question to the candidate, with less group discussion; there may be an exercise or thought experiment involved; or each of the panelists might have a specific area of focus.


Why use panel interviews?

A panel interview is just one of many interview structures to choose from as you screen candidates for an opening. How do you know when it’s the most appropriate option for a particular role, candidate, and stage in the hiring process?

One of the biggest benefits of the panel interview structure is the opportunity to gather feedback on the same candidate, in the same setting, but from diverse perspectives. Because a handful of folks are participating in the same conversation, you can get multiple perspectives on how the conversation went, whether their responses were satisfactory, and whether they seemed like a good fit for the team. Ultimately, this can help gut-check those all-important first impressions before you make any offers—and, importantly, minimize bias.

More specifically, you’ll find panel interviews helpful when:

  • You are setting up an interview that’s more attuned to assessing cultural fit than reviewing work history.
  • You are hiring for a role that relies heavily on collaborative skills, such as a department head; an executive position; or a project coordinator who will frequently liaise with multiple teams and individuals.
  • You have multiple stakeholders in the hiring process and want to save time by turning several interviews into just one.
  • You need to assess someone’s acumen across multiple skill sets, which may not be shared by another single member of the team.

Be sure to include the panel interview structure in your recruiting strategy whenever any of those conditions line up with your needs.


Tools to Help You Interview Candidates

So, panel interviews can save time, minimize bias, and enable collaboration across your hiring team—as well as the candidate you’ll soon bring on board. All good news, right?

Absolutely—but a commonly cited downside of panel interviews is the hairy scheduling. How can you get two, three, four, or even more of your key players in the same room, at the same time, and in a window that also works for your candidate?

Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be the logistical nightmare it sounds like. With a tool like interviewstream’s interview scheduler, you can simply sync with your colleagues’ calendars and enable a candidate to self-select a time that works for all participants. Using an automated tool like this will save you a ton of back-and-forth emails, and built-in reporting will provide an added layer of insight that can help you evaluate your team’s efficiency over time.

Additionally, live video interviewing software can minimize or eliminate the need to arrange travel if your team is geographically spread out, while maintaining a clean, engaging experience for everyone involved.

Modern recruiting software will also provide you with interview insights, question-building tools, and feedback platforms that can centralize all your processes and ensure a smooth strategy from job posting to start date and beyond.


Assembling the Puzzle to Make the Best Hire

As you build your hiring strategy for your next open role, make sure you’re using the whole toolbox available to you: different types of interviews, modern technology, and, of course, the insights of multiple valued members of your team.

Putting all these pieces together will help you create a big-picture strategy that respects the details, enabling you to find the best possible candidate for every open role.

And if you find some pieces are missing and could use some help finding them, reach out to our team at any time. We’re here to show you what’s out there.

About The Author

Monique Mahler is the CEO of interviewstream. She is an avid researcher of facts, a self proclaimed marketing geek, and an equestrian in her spare time.


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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