It’s almost a rarity these days to get through a hiring process without sitting a panel interview. They are both wonderful AND terrifying. On one hand, it’s a great opportunity to get to know the members of the team and get a feel for the company culture. On the other hand, it can be unpredictable – filled with rapid fire questions that seem to come out of left field. Follow these 6 tips to prepare, and you’ll not only survive a panel interview, you’ll pass with flying colors!
- Know who you’re meeting
This is no different than a one-on-one interview, but it is more intense. It is essential to find out who you’re meeting before your interview. Take a look at everyone’s social media profiles and try to remember a distinctive thing about each. This will help you with name recognition and could provide you with some relatable talking points that will make you stand out amongst the crowd.
- Find & speak to the leader
There’s always a leader during a panel interview. Sometimes it’s your potential new boss, sometimes it’s their boss, and sometimes it’s someone in a completely different department who plays an integral part at the company. Once you’ve identified who it is, pay particular attention to them – the questions they ask, their body language, and how they interact with everyone else on the panel. Be sure to address them frequently throughout the interview, as they will probably have a significant amount of weight on the final decision.
- Make eye contact
Always make eye contact with each interviewer as they ask you a question. But when you’re answering, shift your eye contact to the different people in the room. A panel interview is a group effort, and they are all interested in hearing your story and getting to know you.
- Actively listen
While you are being asked a question, or told a story, or given the company history from one person on the panel, you have a number of other people simply watching you. This is a great opportunity to show off your body language A-game! Uncross those arms, nod your head, and slightly lean towards whoever is talking. It’s true that actions speak louder than words, especially when everyone is watching!
- Be ready for follow up questions
The variety of people in a panel interview are what makes it fun, but also challenging. Oftentimes, questions from one person will spark questions from another, and eventually, they’ve totally lost track of that list of standard questions they came in with. This makes it harder to prepare, but also much more exciting and authentic. Just don’t be afraid to take a moment after someone asks a question to formulate an articulate answer!
- Prepare unique questions
Due to the great research you did earlier, you should have a little bit of information on each person you’re interviewing with. Panel Member A went to your alma matter, Panel Member B has been at the organization the longest, Panel Member C used to work at a company you’re familiar with… use these tidbits to your advantage when asking questions. Target each of your post interview questions to each individual panel member. Then, at the end, ask them each to describe their favorite thing about working for this company. Not only is it a fun opportunity for them to reflect and share stories with one another, it’s the perfect chance for you to really understand what it’s like to work there!