Panel interviews can help you separate outstanding candidates from merely competent ones – or they can be a waste of everyone’s time.

The difference? Choosing wisely when deciding who to include on the panel and what questions to ask. Here’s what to consider.

Seek a cross-section of panelists.

Choose interviewers who represent different perspectives on the hiring position. For instance, the position’s direct manager and team leaders will want to know about the candidate’s experience and day-to-day work style. Potential co-workers can offer insight by asking questions about personality, cultural values and approach to work. Executives can focus on “big picture” fit and help ensure the candidate understands the overall goals and values of the team.

Clarify panelists’ responsibilities before the interview.

In addition to representing the interests and perspective inherent to their positions, each panelist should understand what their role on the panel is to be. For instance, it’s important to designate a panel chair who can ensure the process stays on track, communicate with panel members and coordinate questions.

Prepare questions before the interview.

When panelists are left to their own devices in developing interview questions, the results can be a time-wasting mish-mash. Some questions may be asked twice or even three times, while other important questions won’t get asked at all.

Avoid this problem by coordinating with panel participants before the panel interview to create and curate questions. For instance, the panel chair might take on the role of generating “general-interest” questions, while the other members each focus on questions that are specific to their role in the organization or their prospective relationship to the candidate, if the candidate is hired.

Have the panel chair or another panel member review the questions before the interviews. The reviewer may wish to arrange the order the questions will be asked, recommend that panelists “play off” one another if they have similar questions, or may spot ways to combine certain questions to streamline the interview itself.

At FootBridge Energy Services, our recruiters focus on connecting our oil and gas industry clients with some of the best talent available. Contact us today to learn more.