By Louise Green
Going for a job interview is stressful enough, but how are you supposed to deal with a group of people probing you? Panel interviews are more common for senior positions, although they are increasingly being used for a wider range of recruitment activities.
They generally tend to be more formal with set questions allocated to each panelist. It can be a challenge to engage with all of the interviewers and sometimes you’ll feel like your head’s on a swivel! Yes, they can be more stressful compared to a one-to-one interviews, but the good news is that just like a regular job interview, preparation is key.
We’re going to assume you know all about job interviews and what you need to do to prepare. So here are some specific tips pertaining to a panel interview:
Who are you talking to? Find out the names of the people on the panel. Ask the consultant or the company contact who you’ll be speaking with. Research their backgrounds so you get an understanding of who they are and why they’re there. Each will probably have their own reasons, for example the HR manager might be looking for cultural fit, whilst the line manager might be looking out for specific skills. You’ll need to remember their names in the interview. You may find it easier to write them down, so simply ask if it’s ok if you take notes during the interview.
A strong introduction. When you turn up for the interview be sure to shake hands and introduce yourself to each person. If you’ve done your homework you’ll know what they look like and it’s an impressive start if you’ve memorised their names!
Look at everyone. Ensure you make eye contact with everyone on the panel and not just the person chairing the interview. This is essential and probably the most important aspect of being part of a panel interview. Be sure to maintain eye contact with the person asking the question, but address everyone when you answer. This helps involve the other panel members and creates rapport.
Use their names frequently. Another clever trick to help you build a connection is to address each person by name when they ask you a question. People like it when you make an effort to remember their names.
Remain focused. Keep your answers brief and relevant. If you’re asked to do a presentation, ensure you keep within the time frame you’ve been allocated.
Follow up. It’s a good idea to obtain a business card from each of the panel members so you can follow-up with individual ‘thank you’ emails afterwards -it’s a small gesture but an important one.
Panel interviews are more intimidating than one-to-one interviews but keep in mind that practice and preparation can pay off. Remember that by building rapport with the panel, you’re essentially communicating to them that you can confidently handle any situation.
Louise's original article on LinkedIn can be found here.