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I've often heard Mark and Mike recommend against using panel interviews (when you're an employer). But after having listened to all the podcasts in the backlog, I don't recall very much discussion of why panel interviews aren't recommended. Why are they?

I run our intern interview process, and we practice panel interviews with panels of 2-3 people. We don't create a high-pressure environment with interviewees firing off questions in quick succession, and we try to set candidates at ease so they're not too intimidated by several of us. We all read the candidate's resume, cover letter, and other application materials beforehand. So I hope we're avoiding some of the major reasons panel interviews aren't a good idea.

tlhausmann's picture

...is the phrase used in the cast on group interviews.

http://www.manager-tools.com/2007/12/how-to-handle-a-group-interview

It is harder to use and remember names--depending on the size of the group.  The cast offers guidance on how to engage everyone in the group during the interview.

On a related vein, as a consultant, I routinely conduct structured information gathering sessions of groups with 6-8 people. Once the groups get larger than that, often, it is hard to solicit input from everyone within the time allotted. It can be done but it is really easy for someone to choose not to participate in the larger sessions.

nicholasbarry's picture

Thanks - I remember that cast. It's very helpful advice for the candidate, but doesn't offer much for the manager/interviewer who wants to avoid interviewing poorly. It sounds like maybe it's just a problem when your panel is 4+. 

Nicholas Barry
Executive Director for Davis Dollars Community Currency
District Representative for Senator Darrell Steinberg

csilling's picture

 It is simply more effective if the same people interview the candidate one after the other, instead of doing it together, as a panel.

It takes the same effort for the company, but in total, there is much more contact with the candidate. Different interviewers bring out different communication styles. Even if the questions are the same, as recommended, the probing and conversation will be different.

It is also much more effective use of the interviewers' time - they are more involved if they run the interview, than if they merely participate on a panel. They also get more practice, and this is the most important thing managers do.

The candidates also get a chance to refine their answers and correct mistakes. They will be happy to spend more time on the hope of getting an offer. Once they come in for an hour, they may as well stay for the day.

The only drawback is that you have to trust the other interviewers.

Akos

 

nicholasbarry's picture

That makes a lot of sense, Akos. Thanks! In my case we're hiring unpaid interns. So, on the one hand, I feel bad about bringing them in for a long interview process. On the other hand, we and they will both save a lot of time down the road if the multiple interviews help us identify bad candidates instead of hiring them. Right now I'm still feel like I'm coaching the interviewers, so your last point about trusting them is very on point - they're still very inexperienced interviewing. But once they get a bit better, I'll start scheduling multiple back-to-back interviews, based on your reasoning!

Nicholas Barry
Executive Director for Davis Dollars Community Currency
District Representative for Senator Darrell Steinberg