Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Conducting Panel Interviews as Part of the Hiring Process

Conducting Panel Interviews as Part of the Hiring Process

In case you aren't familiar with the term, a panel interview is an interview where the interviewee meets more than two interviewers at the same time. Usually the panel size is between three and five interviewers.

It isn't unusual to want to expose your healthcare teams to potential new hires. In many situations it is important that all feel comfortable with the new addition or to assess potential "chemistry" among all players. However, if a panel interview format is to be used then certain considerations must be anticipated.

First, because of the intimidating nature of the panel interview all the panel participants should clearly understand their role in the process. It usually works best if each panel member is responsible for a portion of the interview content. In that scenario the individual panel interview team member then is the one who develops or manages the questions about a particular skill set, experience or educational aspect of a candidate's background. All the panel members have responsibility for getting information about their topic within a given time frame. Clearly ground rules and organization are important to keeping the panel effective and designating a panel team leader might be important to keeping the meeting on time, on point, on purpose and as interactive as possible.

Also important is to clarify the role of each panel interviewer in the decision making process. Some panel members may assume they have a full vote as in a democratic selection process and can possibly block the hiring of a prospective candidate. If this is not the case and the hiring manager is inviting participation and recommendations but going to weigh panel interview team participation differently - not giving any single member veto power - that should be explained up front so there in no ambiguity as to who is ultimately making the hiring decision.

The candidate who is being interviewed should be offered an introduction to each panel member; to learn the role of the panel participants and how the position that they are interviewing for interacts with each panel member's job. The panel interview can cause panic with candidates who aren't comfortable with group speaking situations, so prepare the candidate as much as possible in advance of the panel interview.

On the whole the panel interview can be a very effective and efficient way to expose candidates to your healthcare team. It also allows the panel team members to participate in the hiring process; have a sense of ownership in the process and to develop espirit with potential new hires, which can make new hire on boarding easier too.

Happy and healthy hiring,