Do you employ the thumbs-up-OR-thumbs-down at the end of a panel interview? Truthfully, that is the equivalent of a limp handshake in the world of rockin’ panel interviews. When the candidate walks out the door, everyone has their opinion and that’s good. However, you are probably missing out on a major opportunity to get some excellent input on who to choose and what you’ll have to invest – time, energy, money –  to get them ramped up to be a productive employee.

What are your panelists’ views on:

  • whether the candidate fully understands what the job is? (Unclear expectations make for drama.)
  • if the candidate really wants the job? (Honestly, if you have to drag them in, you will be dragging them around until you end up blessing and releasing them or they quit.)
  • how this candidate fits into your business culture? (How would they even know?)
  • if the candidate is capable of doing the job? (If you don’t know by the time you do a panel interview, your hiring process is deficient.)

Maximizing the Panel

With some preparation and process, you’ll be able to get more out of a panel than you’d ever thought possible. Start by gathering those on your Unconventional Hiring Team that will participate on your panel. Give them all a role that suits them:

  • Facilitator – making sure every question gets asked the same way of each candidate.
  • Maximizer – asking the follow-up questions that will net the most information and reveal genuine behavior.
  • Observer – relieved of any questioning duty they’ll observe far more with their active mind freed up.
  • Coordinator – ensuring needed documents are available, the interview stays on time, candidates get equal time to ask questions, next steps are communicated, and notes are gathered.
  • Decider – making sure that the final choice is good for the business by considering every panelist’s thoughts.

You can have multiple people in a role and also a single person can hold multiple roles. Gather the panel for a discussion about what you are looking for (culturally and skills-wise) and agree on a process for taking notes. It is important that each person understands what their role is on the panel so you maximize the gathering of information and have a smooth process:

  • Are the candidate’s actions consistent with past interviews?
  • Do you have enough proof that they are a genuine fit for the job and your company?
  • Are you giving each candidate equal footing?

After each interview poll each panelist and ask:

  • Does the candidate understand the job?
  • Does the candidate want the job?
  • Is the candidate capable of doing the job?

Firming Up Your Handshake

With preparation and process your panel interviews can be more like that firm and friendly handshake that starts off a relationship right. You want candidates leaving a panel interview thinking they’ve connected with a confident, respectful, and competent company.


M. Miche Rayment is the Founder and CEO for The Hire Effect™. The Hire Effect clients learn how to identify, organize, and squeeze the most out of their Unconventional Hiring Teams.