Due to time constraints and a desire to include more stakeholders into the process, companies are opting for panel interviews instead of individual interviews. Therefore, you will likely experience a panel interview during your job search.
For many, the idea of a panel interview is a catalyst of much anxiety because, instead of being interviewed by one or two people, you are faced with four or more. Because of the nature of the panel interview, you want to alter the way you prepare ahead of time to ensure you stand out.
- Get to Know the Panel Members
Just as you would in any job interview, you will research the company in order to prepare for your interview. In a panel interview, you want to discover as much as you can about the people on the panel. Do not hesitate to ask the hiring manager the names of those who will be on your interview panel. Find out each of their roles within the company. This information can help you determine the priorities and focus of each panel member, and, therefore, you can prepare answers that ensure you stand out.
- Brainstorm Questions
Using the information that you gather from knowing the roles of everyone on the panel, brainstorm questions you think they may ask during the interview. Then, prepare your answers to those questions to create a compelling story about who you are, your experience, your value, and your fit to the role and the company.
- Engage with the Entire Panel
While a smaller interview setting is naturally much more intimate, it is not impossible to build a strong connection with everyone on the panel. Be sure you introduce yourself and shake hands with everyone on the panel. With a panel interview, the members tend to take turns asking questions. However, just because one person asked you a question, it does not mean that your focus has to be solely on that person when answering. Make eye contact with everyone in the room to ensure they feel included in the conversation.
- Follow Up with All Panel Members
Take the time to follow up with each individual panel member individually. Send a personalized thank you note to each person thanking them for their time.
The key to a successful panel interview is taking the time to prepare and practice ahead of time to alleviate anxieties during the actual interview.