Overcoming the perils of panel interviews: Clients

7th May 2020
Hannah Wade
Associate Partner

You’ve picked your shortlist and now it’s time to plan the final interview stage. Every executive hire is crucial for the organisation and therefore final panels need the due care and attention. There are the obvious points to think about:

Who should be on the panel?

Ideally the key stakeholders and/or potential line managers for the position or individuals who have credible experience and skill sets to help you evaluate your candidates. Then you need to think about who chair of the panel.  Panel members could come from:

  • From within your organisation
  • Representation from external stakeholders
  • Technical experts depending on the role you are recruiting to

Remember to include people from different stakeholder groups

Groups of around six individuals work well and enable you to explore a candidate’s experience, approach and style and therefore suitability for the role they are interviewing for. These groups can:

  • Enable you to have wider range people involved and topics discussed
  • Help staff to feel more engaged if they are one of the groups
  • Service users, if relevant, often prove the most challenging group for candidates as they get right to the core of the issue.

Think clearly about the presentation topic

This deserves an extensive amount of consideration; you need to be able to evaluate candidate’s delivery against the opportunity you’re recruiting for:

  • Make it generic enough so that both internal and external candidates can deliver a good presentation
  • Make it focused enough so that you get interesting content from candidates – what do you want to hear from them?
  • Set a clear time limit and ensure compliance on the day.

Prepare your questions

Ask your recruitment partner and/or panel members for ideas, these are integral to you being able to make a decision at the end of the day.

  • Set out key subject areas relevant to the role you are interviewing for – strategy, financial awareness, commercial skills, stakeholder relationships, leadership.
  • Have two or three questions per topic and then some sub questions to act as prompts to enable you dig a bit deeper.
  • Give each panel member an area to question, this allows the conversation to flow and consistency between candidates.

Closing the interview

Make a clear signal that the interview is coming to an end but don’t forget to:

  • Give them the opportunity to ask any further questions
  • Try and give them an idea when a decision will be made
  • Say Thank You – let them leave with a positive feeling about the process and your organisation.

With each panel member and stakeholder group making notes through each meeting, presentation and interview, the panel should have detailed comments or scores to help make a final decision which is robust and justifiable to a wider Board/committee if necessary.

For more information, please contact Hannah Wade who is an Associate Partner in the Not for Profit practice.

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