2020-02-17 Comments : 0
Panel interviews are stressful when you are unprepared, they're a tool used in high-profile jobs and require the candidate to be able to sustain high levels of pressure. Here’s how you can prepare yourself better for an interview like this.
A panel interview is an interview where the candidate meets with a group of people at once (usually between 2-5 members) to answer questions posed by all of them. Meeting several decision makers at the same time is designed for three things primarily: save the interviewers' time, assess how well the candidate handles pressure and ensure that the hiring decision is a collective one.
When preparing for your panel interview, you'll want to cover all of the typical interview preparation steps for any interview -
• researching the company,
• reviewing & editing your resume according to the job
• preparing specific examples to highlight your past accomplishments
For a panel interview you need to address a few more areas of your behaviour and your strategy.
6 Key points to prepare before attending a panel interview:
1. Be mindful of body language and eye contact
Maintaining eye contact with the whole panel is important, with slightly more attention toward whoever asked the question you're answering.
Moderate your body language in general – eye contact, posture, keep your hands and feet still (not tapping), no extra gestures etc
It becomes all the more difficult in a group interview when you don't feel confident or don't have good body language habits, as it's more pressure, more people to make eye contact with and interact with, etc. So practice with a friend beforehand and eliminate any nervous tics.
2. Be ready with relevant questions
Interviewers on the panel will expect you to have a few questions about the role & responsibilities or the company itself, so this is an important portion of your preparation and we recommend you jot these down in a notebook and ask if it's okay to bring it in with you.
Example of what you can say: “I brought a notepad with a few questions. Is it alright if I bring this into the interview?” 99% of the time they will welcome this action.
Direct a question to the specific person or the entire panel, and make your point clearly & politely.
How many questions should you ask in your panel interview? As many people as there are present, plus a couple extra should be a comfortable number.
3. Get familiar with names & job titles of those attending beforehand
If you can, learn as much as possible about the people on the panel, their names and job titles, the best person to ask is the person who scheduled the interview (the recruiter, HR person, hiring manager, etc.)
Then research on LinkedIn and find out what job titles they hold, if they are peers or more senior level etc. This will help you feel more confident and relaxed in the interview, by being prepared with appropriate responses for a better experience.
A point to note: Treat everyone the same way, on the panel interview. Hierarchy must not affect your behaviour, whether they are lower ranked or higher. This holds true for any interview, not just group interview.
Why? Because the decision to hire you may be greatly influenced by everyone who comes across you, any negative feedback would impact the outcome of your interview.
4. Be ready to take notes, but not too much
You'll need to remember key facts about the position when you follow-up, or when you ask questions later, or when you prepare for future interviews or discuss the role further.
So it is important to note down important details, but make sure it is brief & quick. It is essential to maintain eye contact 90% of the time throughout the panel interview, so don’t spend too much time writing in your book.
5. Learn the names of your interviewers
Note down names & titles once the interview is about to begin, you can help to remember by repeating it after they mention it, and use it a couple of times during the interview too.
Then when you finish the interview, you'll feel a lot more confident thanking them if you remember their names. Some companies welcome a thank you email after the interview is completed, so make sure you mention the right names.
It is also important to ask at the end who you will need to contact for further updates or follow up, unless they mention it themselves. This cuts out any anxiety and confusion about the next step.
6. Build positive rapport and make a strong connection
Do your best to build a connection with as many people in the panel interview as possible. One way this happens is by researching the company, its activities etc, referencing rewards and remarkable achievements in your conversation.
Find common areas of interest when preparing for the interview, share stories, mix your questions into the interview instead of just waiting until the end (to make it feel more like a back-and-forth conversation, and less like an interrogation).
You should remember that in any interview; especially a panel interview, they're not just evaluating your skills and experience – they're looking to see how you'll fit in with the current team, company culture and what you bring to the table as a potential employee.
This is why it is essential to research the company so you are aware of the current team, company culture, notable events etc. Use this information to build a stronger bond and show them the traits they're looking for and how you fit into this puzzle.
Read here to learn how to dress well for an interview
With a little bit of preparation you can feel a lot more confident, prepared with the best responses and lot less anxious about dealing with a set of people who appear to be judging you severely, and reduce the stress of an important event like an interview.