Interviews can be nerve-wracking experiences, but panel interviews can be even more daunting. If you’ve never had a panel interview before, you may not know how to prepare for one, or what to do during the interview.
If you’re wondering what a panel interview is, you’re in the right place! We’ll cover what a panel interview is in this article. You’ll also find tips on how to prepare for one, what to expect during one, and what you should do after the interview is over.
Table of Contents
- What Are Panel Interviews?
- Why Are Panel Interviews Needed?
- Tips On Preparing For A Panel Interview
- Tips On Handling Panel Interviews
- What To Do After A Panel Interview
- The Bottom Line
What Are Panel Interviews?
Panel interviews are when two or more people interview you at once. Each panel will look different depending on the type of company you’re trying to break into. Some panels may consist of several employees and a supervisor, while others include colleagues and someone from HR.
People sometimes mix up panel interviews with group interviews. Panel interviews occur when several interviewers ask you questions. You will be the only one being interviewed.
A group interview occurs when several people are being interviewed. There may be one interviewer or more than one depending on the job.
Why Are Panel Interviews Needed?
Panel interviews have an advantage, as they are an efficient way of interviewing someone and they can help save money. The company can get several interviews done in less time, saving them valuable working hours.
Another benefit is that several interviewers remove the chance of bias occurring. Every interviewer can state their thoughts about the candidate instead of relying on the opinion of one interviewer.
Panel interviews also benefit the candidate. You can look into how the interviewers interact with each other. This gives you an insight into the company’s group dynamics, so you can decide if you will or won’t fit in with their team.
Despite this, panel interviews are scary, but that’s the point. Answering lots of different, quick questions can be tough.
Panel interviews are a way for the company to see how you handle stressful situations. This may seem tough, particularly for those suffering from anxiety or mental health issues.
We’ll cover a few tips below that may help you feel better about your next panel interview.
Tips On Preparing For A Panel Interview
Here are some pointers to help you prepare before your panel interview.
Get The Information
Ideally, a company should tell you if your interview will be a panel interview or not. If they do not explain this in their interview request, don’t feel afraid to ask! If they don’t state what form the interview will be in, you may find out who your interviewer will be. In this case, researching them online can make you feel more prepared.
Take along extra copies of everything. This includes your resume, but depending on the job, you may need to bring your portfolio or work samples.
No one knows exactly what will occur when they’re being interviewed, so always bring copies of everything you may need.
Sometimes it isn’t possible to create lots of copies, but aim to create enough so that there’s one copy between two.
Prepare Like You Would For A Regular Interview
Facing multiple people can be scary, but it’s just like any other interview. Prepare in the same way that you would if you were facing one interviewer. Look over your resume, think of potential questions, and practice answering them.
Remember to expect random or unexpected questions, as these can reveal your true character. If you can do all this during a regular interview, you’ll be well prepared for a panel one.
Tips On Handling Panel Interviews
Here are some pointers to help you during the interview.
Everyone Is Equal
Treat every panel member with equal respect. Introduce yourself to each interviewer, getting their names and job title in the process.
When someone asks you a question, don’t just state your answer to that person. As you get further into your answer, look at all the other interviewers, making eye contact as you do so.
This will show that you can handle dealing with more than one person at once, which will keep the other panel members focused on your answer.
This is especially important if there’s a senior professional on the panel. It can be easy to direct your answers to that person, but remember that everyone is equally important.
The CEO or boss might not have any influence over the hiring process, so don’t exclude anyone on the panel.
Remember To Pause
Normal interviews act as a conversation between the interviewer and candidate. This gives each person a break between each question, but this may not happen during a panel interview.
What often happens is that when you finish answering one question, the next person asks you another one immediately afterward.
This rapid-fire question process can be stressful, but remember not to rush. Pause for a moment before you answer to gather your thoughts. You may want to take a deep breath, drink some water, or even say “That’s a great question”, to give you some time to think.
Be Aware Of Your Body Language
Body language matters, not just in interviews, but in day-to-day life. Despite this, it’s easy for us to be aware of our actions.
For instance, if you often fidget out of nervousness, the panel may notice this immediately. Relax your hands and rest them on your lap or the table. Sit with your back straight, and talk to the panel as you would with a single interviewer.
What To Do After A Panel Interview
The interview may have finished, but you still have work to do! Here are the things you need to do after the panel interview.
As you finish the interview, you should thank and shake hands with every person there. You also need to know who you will be following up with afterward. In most cases, it should be someone from the panel, but it also might be a completely different employee.
Always confirm who will be communicating with you after the interview and that you have their contact information. You should also ask if they’ll be contacting you by email or telephone so you know what to look out for.
Send A Thank You
Even though you’ll be following up with one person, you need to send thank you notes to every single person on the panel. This doesn’t need to be a lengthy email, but they need to be different for each person.
Generic thank you notes won’t make you stand out amongst the rest of the candidates. Try to look back on the interview and remember something interesting about the questions. The best approach is to mention something unique about the exchange with each panel member.
The Bottom Line
Panel interviews can be scary, especially for those that have trouble public speaking. Reading our pointers above can help you prepare, but try to remember that they’re just like any other interview.
Knowing the correct panel interview etiquette can help you stand out. Simple thank you notes can make a huge difference between you and the one that doesn’t send them.
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