11 TIPS TO ACE YOUR PANEL INTERVIEW

October 16, 2019
Posted in General
October 16, 2019 ThePost

The thought of a panel interview can be a daunting prospect but have no fear. With a little extra preparation and effort it need not be a scary process. Start by prepping for this panel interview like you would a standard interview and then keep in mind these 11 tips.

  1. Prepare yourself like you would for a standard interview. Get a good night’s sleep, map out your route to make sure you’re on time, and make sure you dress the part.
  2. Ready Your Brain with an Accomplishment List. In a panel interview it’s common that the team has planned ahead with what questions they’ll ask. This often comes as standard HR and behavioral-type questions from one or two people with other members of the team peppering in random questions. Prepare yourself by reviewing your professional achievements a few days before so they’ll be at top of mind and easy to recall. A good exercise for review is make a quick ‘Achievement List.’ For each position you’ve held list 2-3 accomplishments or achievements and then list your strategy, development process, and implementation you used to bring about these results.
  3. Do your research. Find out who will be on the panel as well as researching the company utilizing social media sites, especially LinkedIn and Google News search. Often times you can find news articles and gain an understanding of what they’re currently working on and how you might fit within this process and the team.  Having info about who you are meeting with could be very valuable especially if you find out they went to same school, know a fellow colleague or share a common interest. This info will help you make a connection and help them remember you over other candidates.
  4. Calm Yourself. If these types of meetings amp up your nerves like it does for many make an effort to calm yourself. On your drive in, while walking up to the building, or while waiting to enter the conference room do a few exercises to tame those nerves. An easy trick is to count your breaths, pay attention to your senses, and/or progressively tense and relax your muscles.
  5. Greetings for All & Resumes for All. Greet everyone equally upon your arrival and pay attention to social cues. It’s always best to err on the side of being more formal, if you are sitting and someone enters make sure to stand and shake their hand. Have enough resumes printed just in case additional team members join.
  6. Start with small talk. Give everyone a chance to settle in by taking a few minutes to chat about anything that will set a casual conversation tone for the interview. It is cliché, but the weather, seasons, or news highlights are a safe way to start. This helps everyone relax a bit, establishes you as a friendly person and hopefully will help them view you as a team player.
  7. Make Eye Contact. Remember to make eye contact while speaking with every member of the panel throughout the interview. Don’t focus your attention just on one person or the person answering the questions. The person you aren’t paying attention to could end up being your manager or superior and you want to make sure they know you can be inclusive and engage everyone.
  8. Tone of Voice, Presence and Posture. All of these items help you to display confidence and will make you feel more comfortable while conveying your message. Remind yourself to speak slowly and clearly. Most panel interviews have blocked out at least an hour’s time, so you have plenty of time to talk, don’t rush yourself. Also pay attention to your posture, it’s always better to lean in while speaking, you’ll instantly look more engaged. Also, don’t forget to smile.
  9. Ignore idiosyncrasies. You’ll also be dealing with different personalities and interest levels. This is a lot to manage and take-in but it’s also a test of how you handle pressure and stress and operate within a team. If someone doesn’t seem engaged in what you’re saying don’t worry about it, you’re talking to a team so it’s natural one person may be engaged more than another depending on the topic and a host of other things that person might have already dealt with that day. Just stay on topic and positive and don’t take anything personally.
  10. Ask relevant questions. Read: Don’t ask about salary, benefits or what you’ll be getting. This is the time to ask about the company, its goals, and any questions you thought of while doing your research, and how you’ll be able to contribute.
  11. Following-up & the Thank you Letter. Who do you send the thank you note to? Who walked you to the door or told you what next steps would be? That’s the person. If there’s any question you can send it to the person that scheduled your interview or who you had the initial interview with but address it to the team or reference the team. If you connected with someone in particular it’s perfectly fine to send them a thank you as well.