James Surowiecki begins his book The Wisdom of Crowds with a description of Sir Francis Galton’s visit to a country fair in 1906. Galton witnessed a competition where members of the crowd guessed the weight of an ox after slaughtering and dressing. Galton analyzed 787 guesses from crowd members including priests, schoolgirls, and clerks. The crowd’s average estimate was 1,197 lbs. The ox weighed 1,198 lbs.
Individuals are subject to biases, prejudices, emotions, and snap-judgments: that’s why individuals make poor hiring managers. Groups are smarter than individuals. For this reason, panels can be an excellent tool for interviewing and hiring. Here are 4 advantages of using a hiring panel:
1. Panels Are Diverse And Inclusive
Your hiring panel can include a variety of people like peers who will be working with the new employee, managers who will oversee them, professionals from the HR department, and even outsiders like vendors and contractors who might interact heavily with the new hire and have a stake in their selection.
2. Panels Challenge The Applicant
Panel interviews are more challenging for the candidate. It’s easy to charm one person, but it’s much more difficult to adjust to the styles, conversation, and questions of multiple individuals. Panels provide an excellent test of the flexibility, social skills, and self-possession of the applicant.
3. Panels Provide A Wider Range Of Questions
While one panel member is asking a question, the others can be listening to the response and formulating follow-ups. Increasing the number of interviews increases the chances that someone will notice inconsistencies and suss out potential problem areas.
4. Panels Offer More Accurate Judgments
Groups tend to make more accurate judgments than individuals, and this is particularly true in interviews. Panel members are forced to be more impartial because they have to justify their impressions to the rest of the group. A panel interview also decreases one-on-one interaction with the candidate, which can be the main source of misleading prejudices and impressions.
For best results, hiring panels should be comprised of a “leader” who directs questioning and two or three support interviewers. All panel members should be given equal chance to weigh in on candidates, and no single person’s opinion should dominate the group.
Ryan Kohler is an HR Consultant and the CEO of Job Match, LLC – which provides hiring & applicant tracking software for HR professionals.