One on one interviews can be intimidating enough, but when you find out that you are going to be subjected to a panel interview, this can really be terrifying. It is important to remember that panel interviews are something that most job seekers find very intimidating and nerve wracking. This however does not need to be the case, and you should really not feel any more nervous for a panel interview, than you would for a normal one on one interview.
If you are properly prepared for a panel interview it can work in your favor and give you the ideal opportunity to prove your worth to the group of individuals who are responsible for the decision making, all in one go. This can save time and really speed up the process than having to see each of these individuals on their own.
The reason that companies conduct panel interviews is that it gives them the chance to get their technical experts, human resources representatives, line managers and senior leadership present all at the same time, where they can all be instrumental in making hiring decisions. This helps for them to ensure that you have been checked in all areas, not only in terms of your technical compatibility to the role, but also in terms of behavior, personality traits etc.
Panel interviews are proven to be very effective, so it’s important if you are intimidated by them, to change your perception of panel interviews and to decide to make the most of them, by preparing thoroughly, and focusing on enjoying the opportunity to meet a group of the company management, face to face.
Always keep in mind that the fact that you have been short-listed for a panel interview, means you meet the requirements of the position and have been singled out with a select few as worthy of further consideration. Companies don’t waste their time on conducting panel interviews unless they are interested!!
Preparing for a panel interview
Firstly, work on your communication skills and the effect you will have on the panel. Your performance in this area may give you the edge over other candidates. Carefully plan what you will wear, focus on your body language, and practice your greeting and goodbye.
Very importantly ask for the names and job titles of those conducting the panel interview in advance so you know who will be in the interview. Panel interviews can be very nerve wracking, and it’s so easy to forget the names, so ensure you are familiar with them prior to the interview taking place.
BE CONFIDENT……and even if you are not feeling confident, try to project confidence. Use a mentor or coach to work with you in a practice interview role play.
Remember that eye contact is extremely important. Always focus on the person who asked the question but also include the other members of the panel.
When you sit down in your panel interview, take out a pen and paper and ask if they mind if you make some notes during the interview. First, note down the interviewers names as they are seated, if you don’t already have this information written down. Always use the interviewers names when you respond to their questions, this demonstrates good communication skills, so it is important to know who is who! It also gives you a little time to “play with” whilst writing the odd note.
Always bring a list of prepared questions to ask during your panel interview. These should be questions that you can address to different members of the panel relevant to their different organizational roles. Knowing who the panel members are beforehand, helps facilitate this tremendously. Ensure you have these questions written down. Its very easy for your mind to go blank and to forget all the questions you wanted to ask, when under the spotlight.
Some senior roles require formal presentation ability, so you may be asked you to prepare a short presentation. If this is the case, don’t panic!! Prepare thoroughly and keep it simple.
Very importantly – listen carefully, take notes and always ensure you fully understand the question asked. Do not rush into an answer. Take a few seconds to organize and think through your answer before answering, and do not feel uncomfortable if this leads to a few minutes of silence. If you do not understand the question, don’t be scared to speak up.
Talk slowly and clearly, don’t rush through what you want to say. By talking slowly, it gives you time to gather your thoughts before giving your answers. It will also give those involved in the panel interview time to understand and absorb, what you are saying.
Make sure you know and understand the technical knowledge required for the job, and try to research this area before the interview. If you are being interviewed for a technical role, it is highly likely that they will ask you technical questions in order to assess your suitability to the role.
Be polite and courteous! After the interview thanks each interviewer personally. Always have faith in yourself, and think of what you can offer the company.