Are you preparing for a panel interview and feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of facing multiple interviewers at once? Wondering what to expect, what questions may be asked, and who typically participates? Panel interviews are a unique format that can be nerve-wracking but with the right understanding and preparation, you can confidently navigate this process.
This article will demystify panel interviews by providing insights into what to expect, the types of questions commonly asked, and tips to ensure that you’re successful in the process.
Know Who’s Firing Questions at You
Typically, your panel of interviewers will represent multiple areas of the company, so each representative will consider you through a different lens. For example, if you’re interviewing at a tech company for a project management role, your panel might include the department manager (your potential direct supervisor), an HR manager, and team leads from the engineering and marketing departments, whose teams you’d work with on a daily basis.
Because your interviewers come from different backgrounds and roles, each one will consider your resume and responses differently. The department manager might be most interested in your project management background, while the engineering supervisor probably wants to hear about your technical experience.
Study Potential Questions
When you know who will be interviewing you, you can brainstorm the types of questions they might ask. These questions often relate to their role at the company and how you would interact with it. For example, if one of the panelists runs the marketing department, you can expect questions about how your role would support marketing efforts at the company. Or they may ask about what experience you have collaborating with marketing professionals.
Panel interviews also often include situational or behavioral questions that assess how you would perform the role’s responsibilities and fit into the organization. These questions often ask how you have handled specific work situations in the past, which you can use to demonstrate how you would perform in the new role.
Engage with All Panel Members Equally
A common mistake panel interviewees make is only addressing the most senior person in the room. Just because a hiring manager leads the discussion, it doesn’t mean you should focus your responses solely on her. One of the best ways to show off your collaborative abilities is to involve every interviewer with every response you give. This can be as simple as ensuring that you give each panelist an equal amount of eye contact, even if it’s not their question you’re answering.
Prepare for a Variety of Question Types
It’s crucial to prepare for a variety of question types in a panel interview. Research the job description, the organization, and industry trends to anticipate potential questions. Practice answering questions using the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method to structure your responses effectively. Be specific, provide examples, and highlight your skills and achievements.
Take your time to understand the question, think before answering, and be concise and clear in your responses. Use relevant examples from your experiences to support your answers and showcase your skills and fit for the position.
Bring Enough Materials for Everyone
It’s likely that all the panelists will already have your resume on hand, but it can’t hurt to bring enough copies to hand out. Make sure to use an attractive and professional resume template for easy readability. Bring a stack of business cards and any other documents you feel might be relevant during the interview.
Pay Attention to Your Body Language
The most significant element of your body language to keep in mind is eye contact. It’s easy to remember this tip in a traditional, one-on-one interview, but panel interviews can fluster even the most seasoned interview veteran.
Practice Your Answers
You may want to develop a list of potential questions, then start drafting and practicing your responses. Review your resume and job posting to ensure you know which relevant qualifications and accomplishments you want to mention during the conversation. Tailor your answers to the role and demonstrate how your abilities will help the team meet its goals.
Build Connections with the Interviewers
Treat your interview as a conversation rather than a question-and-answer session. To do this, you can build rapport and make connections with the interviewers. Your responses also need to address each person’s concerns or needs.
Ready to learn more about panel interviews and how to ace it? Grab our free guide: 10 Interview Myths Debunked. Learn how to navigate through your options and discover opportunities you didn’t even know were possible.
“By utilizing DCC exercise, the result was a reinvigorated team. The DCC program reminded each team member of their own competencies and importance of their contribution. The program also allowed the team to acknowledge the strengths of their teammates.”
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