Panel Interview Tips

Job Interview PanelThe panel interview is often dreaded and intimidating for the unprepared candidate. If you prepare properly it doesn’t need to be. These panel interview tips should help.

First we need to get rid of the fear of being interviewed by multiple people simultaneously; it’s not as bad as it sounds. Let’s talk about some advantages of a panel interview, since most people are only aware of the downsides.
 
 

Candidate advantages during a panel interview:

  • You don’t need to worry about consistency of your answers from person to person. Everyone hears your answers at the same time.
  • You don’t need separate questions for each interviewer. You can direct some of your questions to the entire panel.
  • You have a chance to see how the group interacts together and you can adjust your answers in a way that accounts for this.

Here are the Panel Interview Tips:

Maintain eye contact with the entire panel, not just the person whose question you’re answering. Direct slightly more attention to whoever asked the question you’re answering, but acknowledge the whole group with each answer you give. This is one of the most important panel interview tips. For more body language tips, check out my post on making a good first impression.

Provide specific examples and stories that highlight your accomplishments. If the panel asks about the extent of your experience in a certain area, try to provide an example or story to highlight that experience.

Ask questions. You can direct your questions to an individual or to the overall panel (in this case, they’ll decide who is best equipped to answer your question).

Avoid HR related questions. Don’t ask about benefits and compensation, especially in front of a group or interview panel.

Provide a resume for each person on the interview panel. They’re likely to have a printed copy in preparation for your arrival, but it’s best to come prepared just in case they do not.

Bring a notepad to take notes. Don’t take too many notes though; it should be a conversation rather than a note-taking session. It’s okay to use your pad of paper to write some questions down beforehand and refer to that as well. Check out the “Job Interview” section of my Free Career Guide for the types of questions you should be asking.

Learn the names of your interviewers. This is helpful for obvious reasons, and can help save you some embarrassment at the end of the interview.

Thank each panel member with a handshake at the end of the interview. Hopefully you listened to the tip above this and remembered the names of the interview panel!

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1 comment
Tom Brody says August 31, 2013

The problem with panel interviews is that they are not particularly productive. It is the case that different members of the panel like to interrupt each other. The result is that some of the interview questions and answers get interrupted, and then permanently lost in the commotion. A similar kind of problem can occur with short 1-on-1 interviews, for example, interviews that are only 20 minutes long. In my opinion, the ideal interview situation is 50 minute interviews with each of three or four different employees. In other words, what I prefer is an interview day that lasts three or four hours. Another mistake that companies make, is that they sometimes fail to identify the interviewer — no name is given, no title is given, not on paper, not verbally. I do not take notes at interviews, because I am easily able to remember what was said. I am the author of two biochemistry textbooks, and one medical textbook (why would I need to take notes?!?). The most important thing for any candidate to remember, is that half of the employees who you are interviewing with have NOT BOTHERED to look at your resume. And so, if even if you are the president of a major U.S. pharmaceutical company, and your job was to supervise a half dozen company presidents, it is the case that some of the people that the candidate interviews with will have no idea who they are interviewing. Thus, it is best for every candidate, whether an accomplished leader in her field, or whether a humble grunt, should assume that the interviewer has not read the resume.

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