During the interview process, an abundance of information is exchanged between the candidate and the interviewer. A panel of two or three interviewers may be better able to document and interpret the information. A panel also reduces the risk of biases in ratings and allows for a diverse (e.g., race and sex) range of interviewers, indicating to the candidate that the organization values diversity and fair treatment.
Interviewers may conduct the interview together at one time or individually in a serial fashion in which the candidate progresses through multiple interviews. When feasible, the same interviewers should be used (either in a panel or serially) across all candidates, to ensure consistency in ratings.
In a panel interview, each panel member should individually observe, record, and evaluate the
responses of the candidates. After each candidate, panel members should discuss their individual ratings. Final scores or ratings should be based on the consensus of the panel. This process is described in more detail below.
Although the interview panel works as a team, one panel member is typically designated as the chairperson or coordinator and he/she is responsible for the administrative and logistical arrangements of the interview and for documenting the process.
Conducting a Panel Interview
Before the candidate enters the interview room, the panel coordinator should verify all panel
members understand the procedures to be followed and have all the necessary materials. The interview process should be described in detail in the interviewer’s guide and the guide should be provided to each panel member.
Upon each candidate’s arrival, the panel coordinator should:
- Welcome the candidate and introduce each panel member.
- Thank the candidate for his/her interest in the position and for coming to the interview.
- Briefly describe the job and relevant organizational characteristics as to allow candidates to become comfortable in the interview setting.
- Explain the interview process in a standardized way. This explanation may also be provided to applicants in writing.
- Inform the candidate that notes will be taken throughout the interview.
- Ask if the candidate has any questions before beginning.
At the end of the interview, the coordinator should thank the candidate, answer any general
questions, and excuse the candidate.
Making Candidate Ratings. Each panel member should independently review his/her notes immediately after the candidate leaves the room and, if the interview is not a selecting official’s interview, rate the candidate. At this stage, each panelist is forming an independent evaluation without discussion with other panel members. Ratings should be specific, defensible, and supported by behavioral examples. Interviewers should include actual examples of answers given, explanations of how these answers apply to the competency being rated, and why they merit the given rating.
After panel members have independently rated all candidates, they should compare notes, ratings, and supporting observations. Panel members should thoroughly explore the basis for discrepancies in their ratings, and then reach a consensus on each candidate. Statements made by the candidate should be recorded to support specific ratings. Panelists should record the consensus rating for each candidate on a group rating form.
After the last candidate has been rated, panelists should review the group ratings given to all candidates. This exchange will ensure the performance of each candidate has been considered thoroughly and objectively. This also ensures the final ratings represent the consensus judgment of the panel. After all, ratings have been meticulously reviewed, they should be declared final and each member should attest to the final ratings by signing the group rating form.