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University of Bath

Guidance for chairing interview panels

How to prepare the panel and questions, reaching a decision and offering a role to the successful candidate

Chair and panel responsibilities

As the chair of the panel you have a responsibility to ensure that the interview is carried out objectively, professionally, legally and in-line with the University’s Equalities and Recruitment and Selection Policies. As the Chair you must have completed the University Recruitment and Selection training, if not please ask for advice from a member of the Human Resources Department for guidance. In some circumstances, eg where there are a number of internal candidates the HR Business Partner or HR Advisor may be present.

You and all the panel members will be provided with:

  • The job description and person specification for the post.

  • The application forms, covering letters and the references received so far.

  • The Notes for Members of Interview Panels.

Preparation before the interview

Please arrange for the panel to meet at least 15 minutes before the first candidate is due to arrive. Use this time to:

  • Check that all the panel members have read and understood the information they have been given.

  • Check that the panel is using an agreed set of criteria based on the person specification.

  • Ensure that all panel members have the results of tests or feedback from presentations.

  • Read any “last minute” references and take responsibility for asking the candidates about any aspects of concern in the reference (without disclosing the content of the reference)


  • Ensure that individual panel members have assigned roles and areas of questioning.

  • Encourage the panel to take a behavioural approach to questioning by asking candidates about their past experiences.

Keeping records

  • Encourage the panel to take notes and record the process (eg with an agreed scoring system).

  • Encourage the panel to measure the candidates against the agreed criteria rather than against each other.

During the interview

  • Greet the candidate, thank them for coming and introduce them to the members of the panel.

  • Explain the overall process to the candidate, including explaining that s/he can expect members of the panel to take notes as they speak.

  • Ask an opening question designed to relax the candidate and help them overcome their nerves.

  • Monitor the process and intervene if a member of the panel asks an inappropriate and/or potentially discriminatory question.

  • Help the panel to keep to time including ensuring that the candidate has sufficient time at the end to ask questions.

At the end of the interview

  • Bring the interview to a close by thanking the candidate for their time and explain the decision-making process and how and when the candidate will be informed of the outcome.

  • It is University policy that no job offers will be made subject to references, therefore there can be a delay to the process of contacting candidates where a reference from the current employer has not yet been received.

Reaching a decision

  • Encourage the panel to use all the available information including the application form, results of tests, the references and the interview itself.

  • The amount of detail and quality of references varies widely. Discourage the panel from putting too much emphasis on references.

  • Help the panel to discuss each candidate individually in the context of the person specification. Challenge any assertions which cannot be supported by evidence.

  • Help the panel to decide if any candidates do not meet the essential criteria and are therefore not appointable.

  • Create an agreed ranking for appointable candidates. (It is usually impractical to reconvene the panel if your first-choice candidate refuses the job offer.)

  • If the panel cannot agree on which candidate to appoint, you as chair have the final decision.

  • Record the above decisions on the Jobs system.

  • Collect interview packs, notes and scoring grids from panel members and return these form to the HR Reception WH3.22. All records will be kept until they are no longer required for feedback or to respond to a challenge, after which they will be destroyed.

  • Decide who will provide feedback to unsuccessful candidates; this will normally be the immediate line-manager for the post.

Making a job offer

The HR Department will prepare the basis of the job offer and associated salary (liaising with the department) to ensure equality of reward across the University. To ensure the University can defend itself in the event of an equal pay claim, the chair is responsible for outlining the material reasons for determining the starting salary.

The basis of the offer will then be sent to the recruiting manager, who will then contact the preferred candidate to make the offer within the parameters agreed with HR.