Intimidating as it sounds, you can prepare for a panel interview in similar ways to preparing for a group interview. The difference is now instead of jockeying for the chance to stand out in a group of multiple candidates, you must continue to stand out in front of two or more members of the hiring team. This panel interview format is becoming more commonplace as companies need to move through the interviewing process quickly and efficiently. By having the hiring manager and maybe several other panel interviewers meet the candidate and interview at the same time, an organization can save time through the hiring process.
You will always want to put your best foot forward. During an interview in front of multiple decision makers, these tips will keep you ready:
Have multiple copies of your resume and cover letter with you. Always travel with more copies than you may need, as you never know who will be asking for it. Especially in panel interviews, you will want everyone to have their eyes on your skills.
Know Your Audience
Research the panel. It’s always important to know who you will be meeting with. Be able to identify the most senior person with the company as you may end up engaging with them more.
Also be ready to learn on the fly by paying attention to the group dynamics. During panel interviews, you can really get an idea for the company culture and how the people you would be working closely with interact with one another.
Eye Contact and Engagement
Maintain eye contact with each of the team members interviewing you. When one interviewer asks a question, engage with everyone on the panel. Be sure, though, to bring the engagement back to the one person who initially asked.
Also, be sure to take notes through the interview. As you are pummeled by what feels like a firing squad with questions, you will also be receiving answers and information. By taking notes, you are showing that you are interested in what your interviewers are saying, and you may also gain an idea of how to format some good follow up questions.
Remember the Basics
When you answer questions be clear and concise. This interview method is meant to save time for the hiring managers, so you want to make sure your answers allow space for the other panelists to also as their questions.
Watch your body language, as well. Just as in a more standard job interview, you want to keep your stance and mannerisms very neutral but attentive and respectful.
After You’ve Mastered the Panel Interview Basics…
Just like in a one-on-one interview, it is important to leave a good impression on the entire panel. You can reach out to each panel member individually and write them a thank you note, or note all their names and send the thank you to the team leader or direct manager that was your original company contact.
Prepare for a panel interview with the same way as you would for individual interviews; take a deep breath and let your skills and past experiences show this is the right job for you.
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