As a leading executive search firm in Sacramento, CA, Pacific Staffing knows there are many stakeholders involved when hiring for an executive level position. A panel interview is an effective way to ensure each one has a chance to participate in the process, while also shortening it. This is important because the longer hiring takes, the higher the probability a candidate may find and accept another position.

However, just like any interview, there is right away to approach these interviews to garner the information you need to make an informed hiring decision. Below are a few strategies for effectively managing your next panel interview.

Step #1: Prepare Ahead of Time 

Preparation is key when conducting a panel interview. One of the first steps you should take is to put together an outline of your ideal candidate. Use your job description as the foundation for this. Not only should it list the required skills and qualifications you and your team are striving for, but it also should define specific goals and expectations for the individual in the role – e.g. cut operational costs by 10% in the first year. When developing the outline, get input from other panel participants and then circulate the final draft several days ahead of the scheduled interview.

Step #2: Know the Role of Each Panel Participant 

In essence, loosely script how you want the panel interview to flow. Identify a leader ahead of time who will welcome the candidate and perform introductions, explain how the interview will proceed, provide any basic level information prior to getting started, and close the interview by explaining next steps.

In addition, discuss the kinds of questions each panel member will ask. For instance, an HR representative might focus their questions more on organizational culture and whether a candidate would fit in with it, while a departmental director can focus their questions on operational expertise.

Also, at the end of the interview, you should ask the candidate if they have any questions. Decide ahead of time who will answer these questions – whether it’s one appointed person, or if they will be responded to by those with the appropriate expertise. If it’s the latter, the one leading the panel interview should direct the question to the right panel participant.

Step #3: Arm Each Participant Ahead of Time 

Before the interview, make sure each panel member has the following:

  • A copy of the candidate’s cover letter, resume and any other materials they’ve provided, such as a list of references
  • The job description
  • The ideal candidate outline discussed above

Step #4: Ask Participants to Arrive Ahead 

Nothing derails an interview faster than having to sit around and wait for someone who’s running late. To minimize distractions and interruptions, ask all panel participants to arrive at least 15 minutes ahead of schedule. Take the extra time to review the plan for the interview and make sure everyone is clear about expectations.

Step #5: Meet After the Interview

Schedule a time after each interview to meet with all members to discuss and compare each candidate. The sooner the better to ensure impressions of all candidates are still fresh in everyone’s minds.

If you’re hiring for an executive level position and need help, call Pacific Staffing. As a leading executive search firm in Sacramento, CA, we have extensive experience in sourcing, evaluating and helping companies hire mission critical professionals. To learn more about how we can help your organization, please contact us today.