How to Handle the Panel Interview

If you ask people which type of interview they dislike the most it’s usually the panel interview. They tend to make people nervous. It’s probably because being interviewed by panel can feel like being interrogated if you’re not ready for it. Of course, when you are ready for it, you’ll wonder what all the fuss is about.

Being interviewed by panel is actually a promising sign. As we know, recruiting staff is a big deal and it takes time and money to get the right person. It shows that a company takes finding the right people seriously. It’s good to see a company with that kind of commitment to you.

During a panel interview a group of two or more will interview you. They will usually be from different areas of the business and will each ask you questions. The most likely members of the panel will be your future line manager and a member of HR. Each will be looking for different things from you, and will take turns to ask questions.

The panel tends to use a set of standardized questions for all candidates. You can expect the questions to be less off the cuff than a one on one interview which can feel more like a conversation.

The questions are likely to be competency based and you can expect the panel to take notes of your answers for comparison. Lets think about the challenges of a panel interview and how to cope with them.

They all want different things

Each member of the panel will have a different perspective and will be looking for something different from you. Your line manager may be more interested in your experience. HR will be more interested in your personality profile and how it matches the role.

• Know your role

Think about what the “ideal” candidate would look like. What are the skill, experiences and character traits that the panel will be looking for you to show? Think about how you will show this as you prepare your answers. For more on interview preparation – click here Getting your bearings

You may find you are pulled off on a different tangent by each interviewer – you need to make sure you get your strengths across You may also have less time to think – the questions can come thick and fast in a panel interview. You need to be able to keep your head.

• Stay calm – don’t let the situation make you panic. You are there on merit.

• Take your time and give your best answer. Be prepared for tough interview questions to come up, and know how you will handle them.

Use the star technique – It keeps your answers focused and relevant and helps you to show your abilities– gives them proof- bear in mind that the same questions will probably be asked of your competition- it’s important you give excellent answers to set you apart.

For more on the star technique click here
Building a rapport

• Make eye contact with the person who asked the question - but spread it around as you answer. Talk to the whole panel

Show them your interest - Show the panel that you mean business by being well prepared. Show them you know about the role and the company, and tell them what attracted you to the role. They are looking for someone who wants to join them, not someone who will happily settle for any job.

Follow the rules of interview etiquette - Put your best forward and show them that you are the type of person they want to hire.

For more about job interview etiquette - click hereSmile!- It will make you, and them feel more comfortable.

Ask your own questions- This will help to show your enthusiasm. Plus you can draw attention to your strengths. Just remember the golden rule: ask questions about how you will able to contribute to the company, not what they will give you.

For more on asking your own questions – click here

For more interview tips – click here

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