Panel Interview. Just those two words are enough to send some people into an emotional tailspin. Interviews can be stressful in and of themselves, let alone the idea of facing a panel of people with the power to hire you or send you packing. If you really think about it, though, there are some benefits, the biggest of which is this is likely the only interview you’ll have with the company. This can be a positive thing when one considers the alternative could be meeting with six different people, six different times. And the bottom line is, with preparation, it is possible to ace these. Below, we’ve shared 6 tips you’ll need to succeed in a panel interview:
- Fake it ‘til you make it. This is an approach recommended by therapists that can be used in just about aspect of life – marriage, careers, and, yes, even the panel interview. Unless you have nerves of steel, you are likely going to have a healthy amount of anxiety when entering a room full of potential peers. Remember that old deodorant commercial, though? Never let them see you sweat. You might have to fake confidence as you enter the room but, over time, you’ll believe it (and so will they). Make sure to greet each person with a handshake and make a mental note of each person’s name.
- Be prepared. If you can, find out from the recruiter who will be in the interview and, based on their individual roles, brainstorm some of the questions they might ask. While you don’t want your responses to sound canned, it helps to have a general outline of how you’ll answer certain questions. First and foremost, make sure you have an idea of what you’ll say to the inevitable first question: “Tell us about yourself.”
- Make sure you are aware of your nonverbal. Lean forward to show interest and, if possible, try not to use superfluous language (think “like” and “uh”). Maintain eye contact not only with the person to whom you are responding but with the entire group as you speak. Bonus points for using their names as you answer!
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. This is always a consideration in individual interviews and just because this is done in a group setting doesn’t mean you can’t ask questions about the position, the company culture, and more. In fact, the more questions you ask, the more interested and eager you’ll come across to the panel.
- Be prepared for the behavioral interview. This is common these days, as people want to know concrete ways you’ve handled certain projects and issues in a work setting. Think of some powerful examples of obstacles that you’ve overcome along with your (hopefully many!) success stories. It is okay to use the same examples with different members of the panel as long as you give it a new spin.
- Last but not least, make sure to part ways with each person in the group, offering a handshake and getting his or her business card. As promptly as you can, send a card or email to them, thanking them for their time.