A panel interview is different from the conventional job interview we are used to. Basically, it’s a kind of job interview where an applicant answers questions from a group of people who make the hiring decision.
Recently, some recruiters have made it a norm to use a panel interview in at least one of the stages of the interviewing processes to gain insights from other people in the organization and occasionally those outside the organization.
Just like the normal job interview where you have just one or two interviewers facing you, a panel interview also comes with better chances and of course great threats. These are thus, the advantages and disadvantages of a panel interview;
Few Advantages of A Panel Interview:
The way a panel interview is conducted is different from a normal one-person interview. Here, you simply sit alone, facing a couple of strange faces of the firm. It can comprise of about four to eight people depending on the situation, with individuals from the HR department, some members of the top management board and one or two other persons from the department in which the role you are applying for is in. Of course, you are going to be fired with questions at different time from different angles unexpectedly. However, it’s important you know also that most panel interviews are often characterized by a standard set of questions for all applicants. It is thus formal and organised with a set of structured questions. Some members of the panel sometimes do go out of course though by asking follow-up questions.
Truth is, it can be scaring at first meeting a number of strange faces all-in-one place for the first time. There will still be that usual tension and anxiety, but you just still have to embrace it. Occasionally, you may have to encounter a panel interview for some specific positions in some firms. So the earlier you know about it and you are ready for it, the better. Typically however, a panel interview is often used in the academic and government terrain or for high-level executives in private other private organisations. Some organisations do take exemption to this though.
There are various tips that would help you comfortably and successfully scale through a panel interview. Some of the major ones are as follows;
First thing first, when you get to a panel interview, take a quick analysis of the terrain so that you will emotionally prepared better. You could quickly, take note of the number of members in the panel, thus you can have an idea of how much questions to expect. And even how much questions to ask.
When you enter the board room, quickly engage the board members to create a comfortable environment for you. If you speak first, and quickly create a good impression, tendencies are that you will quickly catch your confidence to run the race. The best way to engage them is by greeting them all at once like “Good morning everyone” not necessarily greeting individually. Then introduce yourself to them. Just your name will do at this stage.
The essence of a cool, long and deep breath when in a tensed situation cannot be over emphasized. A panel interview does not take exemption to this. When you have been asked to sit, simply take a very long deep breath for like three seconds, then breathe out. You will feel more comfortable to talk as you would have become less tensed.
This is a major strength in an interview. It helps you communicate your passion which cannot just be communicated with mere words. It also shows sincerity and help the interviewer know that you are listening keenly to what they are saying. So whichever member of the panel is speaking, you should focus on him or her keenly with appropriate eye contact to establish that connection.
These are also as important as eye contact. They are basically called non-verbal cues and some people even believe that your posture or gesture even tells more about what you are saying than “what you are actually saying” with words.
Calmness in a panel interview matters, otherwise some of the members may use this against you. Even though it is quite difficult for you to be calm in such situation due to anxiety and all, it’s important you also know that this is where your listening ability will be tested the more. Calm down, listen properly to their question before you answer and try to compose your words together before and while talking.
The manner at which you will communicate in a one-on-one interview is quite different form a panel interview. Words that are singular focusing on just one person may have to be changed to address them all. So even if one person asked you the question, you can focus on him or her while answering, but you shouldn’t ignore the other members. Carry them all along and use words that best explains that you mean “all of them” and not one person in question.
So also you should do when asking a question when it’s your turn. While it is important to always direct your question to a member at a time, do it in a way not to make some of them excluded from that interview. Otherwise, they may end up not having that connection with you. Ask each person at a time, and make sure you go round to satisfy all parties with your questions. If obviously, you have too many people, ask the few questions in a kind of general note that anybody can be opened to answer or more than one person can give an answer to.
In the course of your interview, take note of all or some of the names of your interviewers. You may even need to address them by that name to show that you have created that connection. After the interview, send each of them or the ones you have their names a “Thank You Mail”. To get the mail of the members, just use the firstname and last name of the individual and the company website domain name. For example, if the company is Unilever, the company website is www.companyname.com, the firstname of the individual is Evans and the last name David, getting the email becomes easier. It will simply be email@example.com. Do this for all the panel members and send them all a “Thank You” Mail.
It’s also important to note that some other normal interview tips for one-on-one interview also applies here. The difference is here, there are more than the usual one or two interviewers. So, tips such as coming early, wearing the appropriate dress/outfit and all also hold true in this case.