The candidate for the university position stared at the members of the interview panel, waiting for the first question. The panelists exchanged glances among themselves. “Who’s going first?” The panelists directed their collective gazes at one member, who squirmed uncomfortably. “I don’t know what to ask,” she muttered. There was nervous laughter as the candidate waited for a question.
The panel here is squandering a terrific opportunity to learn a lot about the candidate, all because no one thought ahead of time to discuss the questions that the panel would ask.
It’s a good idea to have a prepared list of questions for your interview process and to use the same base questions for each candidate. Before your panel convenes for the first time, distribute a list of possible questions and ask each member of the panel to select three questions or to make up three questions of their own.
Once each panelist has selected his or her three questions, transfer the questions to another piece of paper and allow half a page for each question. This way, panelists can make notes directly on the question sheet. Then take a few minutes before the candidate comes in to discuss the process with the panel members. You may want to arbitrarily assign questions to each member, have each member be responsible for asking the questions he or she selected, or have the panelists take turns asking the questions in the order in which they are seated around the table.
By taking a few minutes ahead of the interview to prepare the questions, you can avoid wasting valuable time and make sure that every minute the panel sends with the candidate, they are learning more about him or her through the response to the carefully planned questions.
Dindy Robinson is Director of Compensation at Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, Texas.
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