The newest article from Career Savvy explores everything you need to know about panel interviews.
A panel interview is when you face several members of a company at once. They will likely involve three to five people, but can be more or less. A panel interview usually takes place later in the hiring process, for example the second or third interview. However, this is not always the case, as some companies can use them straight off the bat. The idea is that you meet several members of the company at once so that they can collectively discuss each candidate and come to a decision on who to hire. This style of interview is becoming increasingly common and implemented in the hiring process for a variety of roles, not just the top ones. As with any interview, it’s important you prepare as much as possible, so how can you ensure you perform well?
Know the Panel
When the interview is being arranged, ensure you ask who will be on the panel. This will help you to prepare by knowing how many people there will be and what their position is. If you can, research them further using the company website and LinkedIn. During the interview, it’s a good idea to take an active interest in each person and their role within the business, as it confirms your interest and desire to work for the company.
If this is not your first interview with the company, regardless of whether the first was face-to-face, over the phone or through Skype, ensure your answers and points are consistent with what you have previously said. There may be members on the panel that you have already spoken to on previous occasions, and they will be expecting you to expand and develop on the information you have already given them. This is not the time to change tact as it will raise suspicion that you are not as genuine as they initially thought.
Speak to Each Member
Regardless of who asked the question, you should answer all of the panel members collectively. It’s important to make eye contact with everyone, even if some people are less vocal than others. Though there may be people in the room that aren’t asking many questions or interacting with you directly, they are still going to have an input into the outcome of your application, so it’s important that you engage with them too.
Prepare for Notes
Some people can find it unnerving when interviewers jot down notes during the interview. Rest assured that this is a perfectly normal part of panel interviews and doesn’t give any indication of how you are doing. A lot of companies have forms they have to fill out to score your progress, so this part of the interview is totally routine. Try not to pay too much attention to what they are doing, as it will just distract you from your answers.
Keep Your Cool
It can be a bit nerve-inducing when being interviewed by several people – it’s not an everyday situation to be in. Recognise that your nerves are perfectly normal and that the interviewers see anxious candidates on a regular basis. Make sure you take deep breaths and have confidence in your ability to perform. A bit of small talk with the interviewers before the interview itself begins can really help ease you into it.
Take Your Time
A panel interview is likely to be more in-depth and rigorous. As a result, it’s important you don’t rush your answers and make sure they come out well-formed. Take your time to consider what is being asked. A good technique can be to paraphrase the question at the beginning of your answer, which buys you a few more seconds of thinking time and allows you to ensure you understand it. For example: ‘My biggest weakness would be…’