Getting called in for an interview is very exhilarating. Being told you will interviewed by a panel of people, not so much.
A one-on-one interview is nerve racking enough, but by adding a few more to the mix, it can feel like you are being ganged up on.
What is the point of being interviewed by a panel of people?
Chances are you will be working with more than one person on the job. By sitting down with your potential supervisor, his or her supervisor and a coworker or HR manager, it gives everyone a chance to weigh in on if you are a good fit for the company. Someone could notice something that someone else didn’t, which can be a good or a bad thing. Everyone has different questions they want answered, so getting them all out of the way with one panel interview can be an effective use of everyone’s time. These are also an opportunity for potential employers to see how you can handle a group dynamic.
How can you make the most of a panel interview?
1) Do not ignore anyone - Give each interviewer the same amount of attention. Don’t assume one person’s opinion holds more weight than another (remember what you have been told about what happens when you ass-u-me?). When answering questions, make eye contact with each panel member and answer all questions thoroughly. When arriving and leaving, shake the hands of everyone who interviewed you (don’t just pick your favorite!). Also, be sure to try and memorize each interviewer’s name and use it when you have the opportunity.
2) Prepare to answer questions quickly - Because so many people are interviewing you with a limited time frame, you may get a barrage of questions about yourself and the company. Do your research and come with answers about your work, their work and any improvements that could to be made. It is a little scary to be thrown in the fire so fast, but be sure to look confident and speak loudly enough so everyone can hear you.
3) Bring extra copies – If you haven’t gotten into the habit of bringing your resume to interviews, stop that now. While they may have your resume in front of them, it is always safe to bring enough copies of your resume for each person in the room. It is better to be too prepared than unprepared.
4) Stay calm - It may be hard not to, but staying calm could leave you with a big advantage. They may be interviewing you as a panel to see how you perform under pressure. Show them you are confident and poised in a stressful situation. Avoid these interview mistakes and show them that you can keep it together when things get intense.
5) The follow-up - Take notes during the interview and send unique thank you emails/notes to each member of the panel and mention what was discussed. Don’t think you can get away with sending a note to the one person you think is most important, don’t write the same letter to everyone and don’t send out one big email to everyone in the panel. In a competitive market, you need to take every step you can to stand out.
Let’s face it, you may not love interviewing and getting questioned in front of a panel can be the most stressful kind of all. It will be over before you know it, so take every step to be as successful as possible. Comment below with any other advice you have!