In Interviews

Do you have a panel interview coming up? Don’t worry–you got this!

Recently we have covered the topics of automated phone interviews (where you are talking to a robot) to applicant tracking systems (where AI decides if your resume is good enough to pass along.)  It seems like every where we turn, robots and devices are infiltrating our lives. You can ask Siri or Google to play your favorite song or give you a recipe for dinner.

But what happens when you are facing a multi-person interview and you feel like you are walking into a firing squad? EEEEK! You have to interview with a live person–and not just one person–several people at once.

Job seekers will most likely encounter panel interviews more and more as employers’ time becomes more restrained and companies become  more efficient with their time. While it is easier on the employer and the people conducting the interviews, it can be more stressful on the person interviewing for the position.

You don’t need to fear a panel interview–you just need to be prepared. You need to “work the room” so to speak.

How to Approach a Panel Interview

One of the keys to acing a panel interview is doing the proper research and “homework” before your interview.

Who are you interviewing with?

Much like a 1-2-1 interview, you would research the company and the person you are interviewing with ahead of time. This time, you just have more research to do. Ask the hiring manager or person setting up the interview for the names of all the people (and their positions) before your interview. Spend some time on the company website, social media, and LinkedIn. Learn as much as you can about each person you are interviewing with.

Knowing exactly who is sitting at the table will allow you to prioritize your questions and your focus.

Prepare Your Own Questions

It is always a good idea to come prepared to an interview with your own questions t. You never want to be stuck with the “deer in the headlights” look when you are asked, “Do you have any questions for us?”

While you are researching the company and the people interviewing you, write down some questions about particular tasks, projects or processes that they have worked on. Ask each person how you will be interacting with them and how you can best help them.

Also, try to anticipate what types of questions they might ask you.

Related: Common Interview Questions

Work the Room

In a 1-2-1 interview it is easy to maintain your focus on the one person interviewing you. It is also often a more casual environment. You can always assume that a panel interview will be a formal and professional situation.

Here are some things to remember:

  1. Shake hands with everyone on the panel.
  2. Introduce yourself to each person.
  3. Address the entire panel when answering a question (not just the person who asked it)
  4. Make eye contact with everyone on the panel

Related: How to Prepare for Behavioral Job Interview Questions

Follow Up with Everyone INDIVIDUALLY

Don’t send a group email to everyone. Send each person a handwritten note. Thank he or she for their time. Include any follow up questions you may have or additional information you would like that person to know.

Related: The Art of Saying “Thank You”

The Recap

A panel interview will not be scary if you are prepared. Take the time to do the research and you will ace it!

Good luck, and we are here to help!

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