How to Prepare for a Panel Interview?

A panel interview is a job interview in which a candidate answers questions from a group of interviewers who then make hiring decisions. Companies are taking panel interviews to screen job seekers and spot the best talent that fit in with the current team, company culture and more.

The time duration of the panel interview can last anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes. Preparing for a panel interview is slightly different from other interviews. In this article, I will explain some points which will help a job-seeker to shine in “Panel Interview”.

Panel Interview Tips

Prepare yourself before interview

  1. Prepare as many questions as you can related to the job specification, CV, job role, the company and its products, services and competitors, issues within the market.
  2. Gather information about these questions either online from company website and media or from experts of recruitment consultants and industry bodies.
  3. Use real world examples and success stories in your answers to demonstrate certain skills or experience in a positive approach.
  4. If you already know the interview panel then I will suggest you read up on their job roles, career background and recent work success.
  5. Give mock interviews to your friends and family members to fill up the gaps.

Get ready for interview day

  1. “First expression is the last expression”. Wear a smart outfit with proper haircut, polished shoes, light makeup and necessary accessories like a watch to create a smart look. This will help you to get an edge over other applicants.
  2. Always reach at least 10 to 15 minutes early. This will not only help to reduce some pressure but also help to adjust you in that environment.
  3. Bring a resume copy for each person on the panel to look prepared and make sure everyone in the panel interview is familiar with your background.

During Interview Tips

  1. People form their opinion in a few seconds. Take prior permission before entering into the interview space. When you first enter the room, try to make eye contact with all the panel members. Greet all of them either by shaking hands to each of them or by verbal greeting.
  2. Don’t sit until you are invited to take a seat. Maintain a good body posture and lean slightly forward in your chair. Keep your hands and feet still. Do not tap them against the table or floor. This will show that you are confident.
  3. A very narrow line divides arrogance and confidence so smile-relax and maintain a simple tone and style while engaging with the panel.
  4. The core point of the panel interview is that try to engage yourself with the entire panel, not just to one or two members of the panel so when you are asked a question, maintain an eye contact with that person, but try to address the whole panel at the time of answering. This will show that you are well prepared for the interview.
  5. Treat each panel member with the same approach whether he is senior or junior in the organization. Lower rank does not mean you should act any differently or address their questions any differently.
  6. You have a limited time to convince your employer that he can trust you and that you are the perfect candidate for the job. Don’t try to answer every question. Say sorry and skip the question. Don’t try to fool or bypass the knowledge of panel members. Keep in mind that the panel members are experts in their fields.
  7. Keep your answers short and sweet. Don’t make awkward clarifications.
  8. Don’t leave your seat without asking. Thank each panelist with a handshake at the end of the interview to leave a great final expression before leaving them to discuss what they thought of you.

Advantages of Panel Interview

  • Panel interviews minimize the possibility of a bad hire because each panel member has deep knowledge of their concerned subject.
  • Panel members have a serious interest in making a good hire because they are generally people who are in regular touch with the hiring manager and exactly the organization and its culture. A bad hire will ultimately cause disruption between panel members and hiring manager in the long run.
  • Panel members often include men and women of different races to reduce the fear of discrimination from applicant. This minimizes the biased behavior towards a certain community and race.
  • Panel interviews speed up the hiring process by reducing the number of interviews because the panelists come to a common decision on the same day. This helps to decrease the consumption of valuable time and resources.
  • Panelists use a scorecard to conduct evaluation and assessment of each candidate in order to compare and contrast responses.
  • Panelists can collaborate before the interview to cover a wide variety of topics to get accurate evaluation of a candidate.
  • Panel interviews put an applicant under higher pressure in comparison to one-to-one interviews because questions are being fired from left, right and center. This helps to assess how a candidate handles group dynamics.

Panel Interview in Office

Signs that indicate your interview went well

  1. You were in the interview for a longer duration than decided before.
  2. The interview went more conversational than a sterile question-answers session.
  3. The panel members seemed engaged and you were told what you would be doing in this role.
  4. You have answered the questions enthusiastically in detail and in a clear way and you are asked to stop answering.
  5. You were introduced to senior decision makers and potential colleagues.
Charu decided to unite her Honors Degree in New Media and lifetime of geekiness to pursue a career in tech and gaming journalism. You can usually find her writing about a variety of topics and drooling over new gadgets and games.