Let's face it. Few people encounter the traditional one-on-one,
face-to-face interview anymore. Many companies utilize panel interviews
to save time and give multiple employees the opportunity to interact
with a candidate in a similar situation. Interviewers are able to see
the candidate in the same light and can then easily share notes and
thoughts about the candidate following the interview. While many job
seekers find this situation intimidating and challenging, there are ways
to succeed when being grilled by more than one person at a time. Here
are a few suggestions.
- Make eye contact with and speak to everyone in the room.
Although you may be interviewing with one senior team member and several
subordinates, it is important to treat every member of the interviewing
team with the same amount of respect. You can do this by paying
attention to each individual in the room. Acknowledge the individual who
asks you a question first, but then vary your eye contact from person to
person as you give your answers. Keeping all parties involved in the
interview will demonstrate that you are a team player rather than
someone who only wants to make a good impression with the "top dog."
- Try to read and respond to different personality types and
It's no secret that humans like to talk about themselves and tend to be
more satisfied when they feel their needs are met. You can often figure
out what kind of relationship the interviewers have with each other just
by being observant and listening to the information between the lines.
Once you have done this and have figured out who plays what role and
what each individual's personality type is, you can then speak to these
different personality types in a subtle way.
- Take them one at a time.
Remember that, even in a panel interview, you are being judged by
individuals with different thoughts and feelings. Each person will have
his or her own agenda and the more you can pick up on those agendas, the
better you can use them to your advantage. For example, a human
resources manager might want to learn about how you work in a team
environment, while a department manager will want to know more about
specific skills and capabilities. Make sure your answers satisfy the
needs of all the interviewers in the room.
- Be prepared.
There is no substitute for solid interview preparation, and doing your
homework is the best way to come out of a panel interview feeling like a
rock star. Before you go to your interview, research the company and, if
possible, different departments. Make sure you understand the job
description and the direction the company is taking so you can address
the company's strategy, successes and challenges. And, ask the interview
coordinator about its structure, who the interviewers are, and how many
you'll be meeting with at a time. This will give you an opportunity to
learn about each individual's department and think ahead about each
- Pay attention to names and use them.
When you walk into a panel interview, you will be introduced to several
people and will quickly be told what each individual's role is. As hard
as it is to pick up on names and other facts in a stressful situation,
do your best to retain whatever personal information you can. When you
meet and shake hands with each individual, repeat that person's name,
either out loud by saying, "nice to meet you, John," or simply in your
head. You will then be able to refer to each person by name, which will
make a big impression on the group.
- Relax and be confident.
While group interviews can be unnerving, your best bet is to take a deep
breath, relax and have meaningful conversations. Try not to think about
the fact that you are being judged by a panel. Look at each interviewer
as an individual and speak to each interviewer as an individual.
Confidence and ease are qualities that are exuded naturally. If you
trust in your own abilities and enjoy learning more about the company,
your talents will automatically show!
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