Panel interviews can be stressful, but in a lot of ways, they’re just like any other face-to-face job interview in terms of what questions you’ll be asked and how to answer.
Coming up, I’ll share the top questions to expect in your panel interviews.
Then I’ll share the best questions to ask in your panel interviews to leave a great impression and get hired faster in your job search.
Let’s get started…
Common Panel Interview Questions and Answers:
First, what is a panel interview? It’s an in-person interview where you sit in a room with multiple people from the company at the same time, instead of meeting with each person one-on-one.
Since it’s a face-to-face interview, and it requires the company to get the whole team together, it usually will come after a phone interview (so they can make sure they’re interested in you before spending the time in a panel interview).
So the good news is that if you’re on a panel interview, they’re probably interested in your background and really thinking of hiring you. So that’s one reason to be confident!
Panel Interview Questions to Expect (and Answers)
In a panel interview, they’re going to ask similar questions that they would in any interview. And your strategy to give great interview answers should be similar.
- Do your research and know about their business. Who are their customers? How do they make money? What is their history?
- Research the job description. What are the requirements? What skills do they want? Those are the things you need to show them in the interview. Focus your answers on THEIR needs.
- Be familiar with your own background and work history. Prepare stories and examples. Be ready to talk about your own resume and summary of your accomplishments.
- Be specific – use facts, numbers and examples whenever an answer calls for it. That’s a great way to make your answers stand out in any interview and one of my top interview success tips.
These are sample questions they’re likely to ask you in a panel interview (that you’ll need great answers for):
- Can you walk me through your resume?
- Why are you interested in this job?
- Why did you leave your last job?
- What do you know about our company?
- What can you tell me about yourself?
- What did your last job involve?
- What relevant experience do you have?
- Why did you choose this career?
- What type of work environment do you prefer?
Now, those are just a few questions. There are over 100 more questions they could ask.
So, you’re better off preparing for topics, not individual questions. I talk about this strategy a lot throughout this site because it’s one of the best ways to prepare for an interview.
What do I mean by “topics?”
Be ready to explain why you’re job searching. That’s one general topic. What you’re looking for, what types of positions you’re targeting, etc. And why their job interested you based on what you’re looking for.
Here’s another idea for a topic to prepare for: Review your past accomplishments and come up with a few stories/examples of what you’ve done and what you’re great at. That will help you answer a TON of questions like:
- What’s something you’re proud of accomplishing?
- What’s a challenge you overcame in your last job?
- What are your greatest strengths?
Here’s another idea: Think about your communication skills and teamwork skills. Come up with one or two examples of how you worked as a part of team, how you interacted with your boss in the past to make sure your last job was a success, etc.
Think about weaknesses too, and things you’re working to improve (and how). That way you’ll be ready for questions like:
Another topic: Think about what motivates you (besides money). Employers want to see that you’re resilient and will overcome obstacles and stay motivated even if things get tough. So you need to show them this.
And finally, the most important type of questions to prepare for in any panel interview:
Prepare for interview questions directly related to the specific job. For example, if you’re interviewing for a data science role, you’re going to be asked questions about data science, your recent work, how you got started in the field, what your past coworkers would say about you, etc.
So the questions you’ll hear in a panel interview vary greatly depending on the role you’re discussing. One of the best interview tips I can share is to review the job description before interviewing so you can mention your experience that’s most relevant to their needs in the interview.
Ask yourself: Does this job require heavy communication? Individual work? Both? What type of person would an employer likely want in this role? Then go into the job interview prepared to sell yourself as a solution to their needs.
This is a lot faster and easier than preparing for each question individually…
And even if you do prepare for 100+ questions, they might ask something different than what you expected.
So if you want to give great answers in your panel interview, prepare for general topics that you think they’ll ask about.
You can get more clues about topics to prepare for by studying the job description. What do they mention most or seem to care about? Communication skills? Leadership? Problem-solving? etc.
That’s what to practice great answers for.
Other Tips for Panel Interview Success:
Final words of advice and tips for your panel interview…
- Show up 10 minutes early. If you’re late you will not get hired.
- Learn everyone’s names and use them in the conversation.
- Prepare great questions to ask them. You can direct questions to an individual, or the panel in general.
- Make eye contact with everyone when giving an answer to a question, but focus slightly more on the person whose question you are answering.
If you want more tips, hints, and help with your panel interview, I wrote one more article with further details on how to ace your panel interview.
Questions to Ask in a Panel Interview
I mentioned above that you should be asking questions in your panel interview – both to individuals and the panel as a whole. Here are 7 good questions to ask in your panel interview:
- Why is the position open right now?
- What are one or two things that you’re looking for in the person you hire?
- What are a couple of things that might stop someone from being successful here?
- What’s something new that you’re hoping the person you hire can bring to the position?
- What would success look like in the first 90 days?
- What is the person who held this position previously doing now?
- What are the next steps in the process?
You can ask these questions to one person who you feel could best answer them, or what I recommend is you ask the entire group and let them decide who is best suited to answer.
That’s a great way to gather information and create a group-discussion environment, so they start to see you as more of a colleague (and therefore someone they should hire!)
One more thing you may want to ask: “Who will be in touch about feedback and next steps?”
If you interviewed with multiple people, it’s helpful to know who’s going to contact you. That way, you can follow up if you don’t hear feedback.
So ask that question, and then ask for a business card from that person. Or better yet – ask for business cards from everyone so you can send thank you emails the next day. That’s another good way to boost your odds of getting hired.
If you study the common panel interview questions above, practice your answers, and write down questions to ask them, you’ll give yourself the best possible chance of getting the job!