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…
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!
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.
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:
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.
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.
Final words of advice and tips for your panel interview…
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.
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:
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!
Biron Clark is a former executive recruiter who has worked individually with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions.
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