Panel interviews are increasingly common and whilst it's often uncomfortable for candidates, these types of interviews, where multiple staff members interview a job seeker, save organisations time, particularly if they're recruiting for a number of positions across the company. While handling one interviewer at the time can already be quite a task, a panel interview requires some additional preparation. While the standard job interview preparation still applies, we have listed some additional tips that will come in handy when facing a panel.
1. Find out who will be on the panelDon't be afraid to ask this question! The recruiter or HR manager arranging the interview should be able to tell you the names and positions of the people interviewing you. Do as much research on the panel members as possible, ranging from company profiles to media interviews. Try to understand who they are, what they do and what they might be looking for in you as a candidate so that you can anticipate the types of questions each interviewer might ask. Prepare how you'd want to frame your answers to specific questions – for example, if you're asked for examples of how you demonstrated certain skills or experience to problem solve an issue. Have three to five success stories up your sleeve and make them results-oriented. Bring out how your individual approach and actions led to a positive result.
2. Do your researchDig deeply into the requirements of the role, the company (including past and current projects), its competitors and the industry. When you walk into the room equipped with as much knowledge as possible, you'll project confidence and will likely dazzle the panel.
3. Pay attention to the whole panelWhen having a panel interview, it's easy to focus only on the person asking the questions. However, it's important to address all the people present and maintain frequent eye contact. Although it's the hiring manager making the final decision, he/she will consult the other panel members for their impressions of you. When answering, focus on the person who asked the question, but as you continue to elaborate, address the other interviewers, too.
4. Have questions for everyoneEveryone knows that interviewers will ask if you have any questions, yet very few are prepared for it. This could be your time to shine and show that you've put thought into it. This may include questions about the company's working culture, its market challenges or competitors. However, as the panel members are most likely from different departments in the company, you should prepare questions for everyone to demonstrate your expanded interest in the company.
5. Rehearse to keep your calmAs a panel interview can feel like an interrogation and could include rapid-fire questions, it’s tricky to remain calm and relaxed. While you can't control the kind of questions you'll be asked, you can manage your responses. Any questions about your work experience, motivation and expectations should be rehearsed and conveyed with confidence. Be ready for these frequently asked interview questions, and ask your family and friends to fire questions at you to practice so that you can walk in the room and ace the interview.