How Can You Be Successful in a Panel Interview?
In a panel interview, two or more people will interview you. This could be human resources, potential colleagues, supervisors, hiring managers, or directors.
Expect there to be around three to five interviewers who will typically take turns asking questions.
I know firsthand that a panel interviews can be twice as intimidating as a one-on-one interview. I have never encountered anyone who is not nervous before or during an interview, which is normal.
Continue reading for tips that will assist you in passing a panel interview.
Mostly the same rules apply as with any other type of interview, but on this page, you will find information geared specifically toward handling more than one interviewer at a time.
What is the purpose of a panel interview?
This type of interview is sometimes used to save time by having everyone involved in the decision making process interview you at the same time, instead of requiring you return for multiple interviews.
The entire group of interviewers will evaluate…
- The quality of your answers to the interview questions.
- How you interact and communication with a group.
- How well you work under pressure.
- How your previous experience can tie into the job.
- Whether you have the skills and ability to perform the job.
After your interview, the interviewers will compare notes and discuss your interview as a group.
Each of them is likely to bring a different perspective to the table. Each of them will have input in the decision regarding whether you will be selected for the job.
Therefore, your job is to make a good impression on all of them.
One interviewer may notice something that stands out to them that another may not. This may increase your chances with that person as they discuss your interview results.
What should you expect at a panel interview?
You will find yourself seated across the table from three to five interviewers.
They will likely introduce themselves before the interview begins. Jot down names in the order that they are seated, and call them by their names throughout interview.
The interviewers are likely to take turns asking you questions.
Tips for successfully passing a panel interview.
You will be outnumbered, but don't let this intimidate you. Just focus on one person at a time.
As you answer the questions begin and end your eye contact with the person who asked the question. Maintain eye contact with all the others while you are speaking.
Make a mental note about what each interviewer's questions focus on. Then you can reference the topics important to each of them in their individual thank you letters. For example if one of the interviewer's questions focused on leadership skills, remind this person of your proven leadership skills in their thank you letter.
Don't be nervous about them taking notes. They will use these notes to discuss your interview as a group and when they compare you to the other candidates. They will take notes and jot down keywords to remember you by.
Prepare and practice. If you are not prepared, at least one of the interviewers will notice.
Treat everyone on the panel equally.
Hold your head up high and exude confidence but not arrogance.
Research the company before the interview.
Crack jokes. Something that may be funny to your or one of the interviewers could be a turn-off to another one. This does not mean you have to be stone-faced and cannot laugh and smile, but leave the jokes (if any) to the interviewers.
Focus all of your attention on one interviewer. Make eye contact with each of them, throughout the interview.
After the interview…
Thank all of them for their time, immediately following the interview.
Send a thank you letter to every interviewer, addressed specifically to each of them. This will help you stand out from those who do not send a thank you letter. Set yourself apart from the crowd.
Sometimes, you can tell during the interview what is important to each person, based on something they say. Feed on that as you make your last impression.
Ask for their business card, if you don't already have one, especially if you do not have their contact information.
Ask questions that you have prepared in advance. This increases your engagement with the group.
Ask for business cards. This way you'll have easy access to the contact information you will need for the thank you letter.
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