Interviews can be a scary proposition at the best of times. Panel interviews, where you are interviewed by three or more individuals at once, can seem particularly daunting. Perform at your best by understanding the drivers behind this type of interview and preparing in advance.
Why Companies Hold Panel Interviews
In today’s increasingly busy world, efficiency is key. Panel interviews save valuable time in the recruitment process by getting all key stakeholders together at once. For the organisation, this is an attractive proposition. It takes up less company time filling the vacancy and completing the process.
While it may seem that the advantage is all on the company side, this works to the benefit of the candidate too. Not only will the candidate generally be required to attend fewer interviews in order to complete the process, but they are likely to meet most, if not all, of the key people in one meeting. This enables them to form their own opinions of the organisation and of the role within fewer meetings or interactions.
In addition, where roles have multiple reporting lines or accountabilities, it will allow the candidate to understand organisational dynamics and create chemistry with all the important players.
How to Prepare For A Panel Interview
As with any type of interview, preparation is vital. When offered an interview, you should always ask what form the interview will take and who will be present. This will allow you to prepare properly. Once you know who will be running the interview, you may be able to do some research on the individuals through LinkedIn so that you are familiar with who they are and what they do.
Of course, as with any interview situation, you should read the job description and research the company thoroughly. Pick out the key requirements for the role and compare these with your CV and list specific examples where your experience matches. Read your notes thoroughly several times ahead of the interview to remember key points, but also take them with you so that you can refer to them if necessary.
Whether an interview is in a one-to-one format or panel format, typical questions are likely to be similar. What is your biggest strength in relation to the role? What is your biggest weakness in relation to the role and how can you state this positively? Why do you want to work for their organisation? Think about the sort of questions each panelist is likely to ask given their role in the company.
In addition to preparing answers, make a list of questions you would like to ask. In a panel interview, it is a good idea to prepare at least one relevant question for each panelist. This shows that you have taken the time and effort to understand who they are, what they do and how they are relevant to both the role and the organisation.
Think of the panel interview as a conversation. You would be comfortable having a conversation with more than one individual in day-to-day life. This is just a conversation with a particular focus.
Taking Part In A Panel Interview
Remember to address everyone in the room. Whilst some will be more senior than others, they are all there for a reason. Make eye contact when responding to an individual and treat everyone’s feedback equally.
Try not to get flustered or defensive. It is common to be nervous in an interview situation and for many, a panel interview format will only increase that feeling. Take deep breaths, remain polite and consider your responses.
Part of this process will show how you perform in a group setting. They may ask a number of questions quickly to see how you would cope with pressure. Remain measured and controlled in your response. If necessary, make a note of questions and come back to them later if you feel you didn’t manage to give a full response initially.
Remember not to rush your answers. Whilst it is important to be keen, it is easy to appear flustered if you rush. Equally, remember to listen as much as you answer. This is your opportunity to discover whether the company is the right fit for you. Show interest in both the organisation and the role.
In addition to wanting someone with the relevant skills and experience, companies also want a candidate who is interested in their organisation and who will want to stay and make a long-term contribution.