Panel Interviews - How to Prepare and Ace
While many will liken a panel interview to sitting in front of a firing squad, it’s truly not. Most panel interviews are done in a structured manor. Each interviewer will take turns asking questions while the other interviewer(s) will take detailed notes on your responses. What can you do to ace the interview?
Do your homework. Research the company to find out which departments the position will be working with. This information can usually be found on the job advertisement. The information may also be found buried somewhere on their webpage. In some cases, it’s a matter of common sense. If you are applying for a sales position, you will interact with many departments within the organization.
Shake hands and do a quick name memorization of each member of the interview panel. If you’re not good with names, brush up on whatever skills you will need for the short term. An interviewer will be insulted if you remember everyone else’s name but have to keep saying, “I’m sorry, what was your name again?” If you have a pad for taking notes, discreetly write each name down; don’t ask them to keep repeating while you painstakingly write every letter.
When you respond to a question, keep the other departments in mind. Answer the question on how it relates to each of their specific areas. Your interview needs to be a win-win for each of them. Even though, the non-asking interviewer may be taking notes, make sure your eyes scan them when responding. You never know at what point they may be looking at you. Interviewers do not like to be ignored. They can tell if it appears you are playing favorites.
A panel interview lends itself perfectly to asking questions at the end of the interview. Ask what role the interviewer sees the candidate playing for each of their departments. You’ve already done the research so you can lead in with a little “teaser” about what you know then ask them to share their perspective.
Panel interviews suffer the reputation of being scary or overwhelming. They don’t need to be. In fact, it’s the perfect opportunity to show your skills to a larger number of decision makers all at once.
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