A panel interview is a type of group interview wherein a job candidate faces multiple interviewers. It usually includes the hiring manager or a representative from the HR department and the designated department manager or supervisor. In some situations, co-workers, other departmental managers and someone from top management are also part of the interview panel.
Just like any other interviews, you need to research about the company and its products and services. It is best to put together questions that you may want to ask the interviewer– these questions will help you articulate your interest and knowledge about the company. Note that in some scenarios, you will be informed about your interviewers, and knowing the identities of your interviewers will give you the chance to do a little research about them so you can prepare yourself more.
What to expect. Do note that a lof of the rules of one-on-one interviews go out the window once you step in a panel interview. The number of interviewers represents different viewpoints. Small talk seldom happens, or at least kept very short, as the interviewers want to get right into the subject matter. The interviewers are usually more straightforward when they’re members of the panel. Know your interviewers, ask if you can take down notes and be prepared to do so professionally.
Dealing with the interview panel.As the panel of interviewers consists of different individuals, it may be difficult to build a connection at once. Making eye contact, shaking their hands firmly and greeting them using their names will help you build a rapport with them. Do not rush when answering questions. Do not let your nervousness take over you. It is important to engage all interviewers, regardless of their seniority in the company or where they are in the room. The best way to deal with several interviewers is to take them one at a time. The members of the panel has a common purpose—to discuss and determine if you fit their requirements. At the same time, each of them has his own department’s agenda or interest at heart. So try to think where the particular interviewer is coming from so you can aptly answer his question. [check these 5 tips to make great first impressions in an interview]
Concluding the interview. Towards the end of the interview, the panel will usually allow you to ask a few questions of your own. Use this chance to show your interest in the job you are applying for. Although you have mentally prepared these questions, make it sound like a natural part of the conversation. Ask at least one question for each panel interviewer. At the end of the interview, shake each interviewer’s hand and thank them by name. Sending a thank you note to each panel member after your interview is a great idea.
You need not view panel interviews as an endurance test, so do not let your worry take over your self-esteem. The best way to ace your panel interview is to prepare well and handle yourself smartly and confidently.
You can also check these 5 tips for smooth interview.