Preparing for a Panel Interview

You enter an interview room and you find not just one interviewer, but a group of individuals waiting to interview you. What do you do? You were already anxious enough for the interview but here you are feeling intimidated and feeling like it’s unfair to be alone on this other side of the table.

Nowadays most organizations opt to conduct panel interviews for a number of reasons:

  • It saves the company time and money as a group of people get to know you quickly.
  • The panel evaluates how you interact with different personality types and individuals.
  • The panel can see how you handle pressure and stress.
  • A panel interview helps a corporation to get a consensus among several individuals when hiring for a particular position.
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So which skills should you bring with you for a panel interview?

A good memory for names

The panel will do a round of introduction, which with the anxiety it’s very easy to forget the names or even worse to call someone by the wrong name. The best way to deal with this is to have a pen and a piece of paper to quickly draw a seating chart with their names. It will be very impressive to respond the questions with personalized answers.

Project Confidence

In a panel interview, the pressure is real. However, you need to maintain eye-contact and have the perfect body language. The goal of the interview is to prove that you are the perfect candidate for the job. You need to show that you are comfortable to be there and confident enough for the position.

Portray stress management and thoughtfulness

It might be overwhelming to have a group of people all trying to ask you a number of questions within a limited time frame. You need to remember that there is no prize for answering the questions the fastest. Each time a panelist asks you a question, take a breath, formulate the answer then keep your response brief and focused.

Remain neutral and friendly

In a panel interview, you are bound to meet interviewers with different personality types. There will be someone who will appear friendly and easy to deal with and another will appear tough. You need to resist showing inclination and impressing a particular person. Instead, remain neutral and friendly to every person in the room.

Now that we know that there is a high likelihood that the next interview might be a panel interview, how do you prepare?

Preparing for a panel interview is quite similar to preparing for an interview with the basics being: Research on the company, dress well for the interview, prepare for behavioral questions, ask the right questions and arrive on time for the interview. In addition to that you should:

Know your interviewers in advance

If possible, ask for the names of the people in the interview panel and get to know them in advance. However, some hirers may not be willing to give the names and also last minute changes may lead to substitutions. You could do a background check of potential interviewers by checking the staff on the company website. This will not only prepare you psychologically for whom you will meet but also you will be in a better position in knowing whom to address your questions.

Bring extra copies of your CV

There is a high probability that each interviewer will have a copy of your CV, but it’s good to be prepared by bringing extra copies that you could hand out to them.

In conclusion, while it might be tasking to handle a panel interview, preparation and remaining calm and collected is key. Remember, your aim is for the panel to arrive at the consensus that you are the most suitable candidate, so be your best authentic self throughout the interview.


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