Sathnam Sanghera wrote an article in The Times today titled "Why the modern interview is professional, thorough and saps the will to live". He details being involved in a recruitment process that was drawn out due to a process driven HR policy, incorporating a large, diverse panel and overly detailed feedback. I whole heartedly disagree with Sathnam that his example, although extreme, is the shape of modern interviews as I believe panel interviews are fast disappearing. So it does beg the question do panel interviews have a future?
The majority of recruitment agencies offer a rebate or free replacement scheme as part of their terms of business for the simple reason that a hiring process is not fool proof. In any hiring process the interview is the key to any decision and a poor interview format could ultimately prove very costly to any organisation.
Panel interviewing is typically used by public sector organisations due to different stakeholders sharing the responsibility for appointing a new hire, however, some private organisations still use panel interviewing, although, you tend to find that hiring managers are more autocratic in the private sector and have the responsibility to make the decision. The general consensus is that a panel interview is a one-way process and whilst it allows the organisation to ascertain the interviewee's suitability, it does not allow the interviewee to gauge the organisation's suitability compared to their needs. This can result in the organisation losing key talent purely on the basis that they cannot make an informed decision about the organisation. An interview needs to be a two way process and all organisations need to be aware that they must sell the role and the organisation to the interviewee, as even in tough economic times most professionals will have a choice of opportunities.
I would suggest that any organisation that requires more than one individual's input into making a hiring decision should not conduct a panel interview, which with its barrage of questions can be more like an interrogation, but instead allow the interviewee to be met individually by each person. This will create a more relaxed environment and each hiring manager will be able to interview in a style that suits them, whilst the interviewee gains more information about the personality of any future line manager or colleague and their individual thoughts on the organisation. This format still accommodates a panel decision, but both parties will leave the interview with more information thus reducing the chances of a bad hire.
I feel the article by Sathnam is extremely thought provoking and really does question an interview process.