Most of us get nervous while going through an interview, even when it is a one to one interaction, so when it comes to a panel interview, then it is obvious that we will be scared to death to face all of them at once. It seems like we are facing a bunch of aliens who are about to attack us during the panel interview. But, nothing of that sort happens; instead they are just regular guys doing their duty. They are not sitting there to intimidate you with their presence; instead the panel interview is conducted to save the time because we all know that interview is a time consuming affair. When the panel interview takes place, then the requirement of calling back the same candidate over and over again for another round of interview gets eliminated and all the steps gets over at a go.
Main Objective of Panel Interview:
Though it is believed that panel interview is conducted to save time, but the main objective behind that is to see whether the candidate is efficient enough to work with the key members of the company. So, in a panel interview you will get to meet people from all stages, including your colleague to Manager and other professionals from different departments with whom you will have to work closely if you get selected. Therefore, you need to prepare yourself very well, so that you ace the panel interview and impress each and every member of the panel. No matter whether you are a novice or you are applying for a position, which requires quite a few years of experience, panel interview is always nerve – wrecking.
Got a Call for a Panel Interview:
You have gone through the initial screening and now it is time to nail the job by going through the last round of interview. When you thought everything is going according to your plan, you get a call from the organization stating that the last round of the interview will be a panel interview. What do you do now? If you panic, then it won’t help the cause, instead you must prepare well in order to ace the panel interview and bag the job you have been dreaming of. Everything seems overwhelming because you will have to handle not one, but more than that during the interview. It is hard to handle one interviewer, so if you are about to handle more than one, then you will have to work really hard to get yourself ready for the big day.
Preparing Yourself for the Panel Job Interview:
There are several ways through which you can prepare yourself well for the big day and at the end do it well too. Just ensure that you work on yourself enough to make sure that you have proper control over the situation. You have to keep in mind that you are facing a bunch of professionals out there who will be asking you questions one at a time to make sure that you are fit for the job. So, keep it that way and do not stress yourself in thinking that they are there to grill you down.
1. Resume for one and all:
This is one important thing to do when you are appearing for a panel interview. You need to have quite a few numbers of resume in your file, so that you can hand over a resume to everybody on the panel. This will do two things for you, one it will let the interviewers know that you came prepared for the panel interview and secondly it will give every member of the panel the scope of reviewing your credentials. So, when you are preparing yourself for the interview, just make sure that you do enough photocopy of your resume and keep them handy during the interview.
2. Know the company well:
It is important, even when you are appearing for a normal one to one interaction, but while appearing for a panel interview, this thing becomes even more essential because when you will have proper knowledge of the position you are applying for and the company, then you will get a clear idea about who all can be part of the panel. This way it will be a great help in preparing for the questions that can be asked during the interview. There will definitely be a professional from the Human Resource department and then you can also come across your potential Manager or colleague as well. The understanding of the structure is very crucial because that way you will have the knowledge about the panel that you are about to face.
3. Eye contact is imperative:
Maintaining eye contact is imperative we all know, but how do you maintain eye contact with each member of the panel when you are in a panel interview! There is no need to wander your view while answering a question from a particular interviewer. Instead, what you can do is concentrate on one member who is asking you the question at that point of time. If you are elaborating a particular answer, which means that you will be making a long statement, then you will have to maintain eye contact with everybody in order to engage everybody and include them in the process as well.
4. Stay in control:
When you are told you will be going for a panel interview, then you have the right to know who all will be there in the panel. It might happen that the CEO or the VP is in the panel, so knowing that beforehand will help you in preparing well. Don’t panic just by the thought of having some big shots in the panel, instead understand the roles well and prepare well for the questions that you think might come up during the interview. The people who are involved in the panel interview states which way the interview might steer to.
5. Know the panel member well:
You have already done your research about the company, but it is time to dig in deeper about the professionals who will be part of the panel. You will have to search well to see what their accomplishments are and whether they have been in the limelight recently for some good reason or not. Go through their LinkedIn profile and see how they have done so far and from where they started their career. Knowing them well will definitely help you in calming down your stress level a lot. This way they will sound familiar during an interview.
6. Calm and compose:
During any interview, keeping your calm will definitely help, but when you are facing a panel interview, you need to maintain your calm even more. You must not let your energy drop or lose your calm for once during the interview. In a panel there is more than one kind of professional, so it is quite natural that they will be having different kinds of energy and attitudes. Even the personalities as well as the body language will also be different too, and when you are appearing for a panel interview, you have to keep all these in mind because it will help you in answering the questions in the right manner.
7. Jotting it down:
There are so many people quoting so many things that it will be really hard for you to keep a track of all the conversation; therefore, it is a good idea to note it down. Therefore, when you enter the interview room, after greeting everybody and handing over the resume, ask them whether it is okay with them if you are taking notes. This will impress the interviewer because it shows your interest level in what they say.
8. Ready the question for each member of the panel:
We already know how important it is to ask relevant questions at the end of an interview and when it comes to panel interview, then the same thing applies in this scenario as well. Research well to prepare one question for every panel member.
9. Connecting with everybody:
It happens at times that during a panel interview, only one member in the group is doing all the talking while others are watching. But, that doesn’t mean you will only talk to him and ignore others. You can start by maintaining eye contact with the person who is asking you the question and later shift your eye contact with others in the group as well. It is done intentionally to witness how you will adjust to a group where there are different kinds of members present. If you are connected with only one leaving out the rest, then you are not helping the cause at all.
10. Make sure you have the business card of each of them:
Before you leave the room after completion of the interview, just make sure that you have the business card of each of them. If not, then at least have their name noted down on your notepad.
11. Your thought process matters:
Your achievements are written in front of them, so they don’t want that to be repeated, instead they want to know the thought process that went behind the decision that you have made and how you have achieved the feat successfully.
12. Know the names of the interviewer, if possible:
Sometimes, there are organizations who don’t believe in divulging details about the interviewer. This will help you in researching well about each member and when you enter the interview room and the interview panel introduces themselves, it will be much easier for you to relate with them. As a matter of fact, you will realize that when you use their names it is helping you in developing a rapport with them quite easily too.
13. Answering the same question more than once:
In a panel interview, it is quite normal to answer the same question more than once during the course of the interview. If you are being asked one question in the beginning of the interview, then you must be ready to give a clarification again in the middle of the interview and again another interviewer might ask the same question at the very end of the interview. It is not that they are verifying whether you are telling the truth or not, instead it has more to do with the listening capabilities of each person. Therefore, it is better to keep your answers short and sweet, rather than providing lengthy answers.
14. Awkward questions:
When the interviewers are working in a panel, they most likely to feel stronger and they will tread the path, which they most likely avoid when they are alone. So, when you are practicing for a panel interview you must practice well for all these kinds of questions in order to make sure that you don’t end up in a soup at that point of time.
15. Try and impress all:
In a panel interview, you will see that even when most of them are in your favor, there will be one who is still having second thoughts about you. You can either completely ignore that person or concentrate on the ones whose trust you have won or concentrate more on the person whom you are yet to win over. This attitude will tell a lot about your leadership skills and how you react when things are not under your control completely. It will show that you are not scared to take up the challenges and face it comfortably without getting perturbed by the situation.
16. Thank you notes for everybody:
After you are done with your interview, it is essential that you send a thank you note to each member of the panel. Even if there is this person who didn’t ask a single question during the interview you must send in a thank you note to him as well. You can drop in the thank you note at the reception just after the interview because that way your name will be still fresh in your mind.