Forget those conventional interviews you have attended before. When it comes to a panel interview, things are a bit different. In a conventional interview, you can give standard responses to questions and get away with it. However, in a panel interview, panelists tend to be individuals who are specialists in certain roles. Such panelists usually work in different departments within the organization. Thus, you will be asked broad-based questions that seek to gauge your familiarity with different fields of expertise.
Therefore, you need to be well prepared, attentive and able to think quickly on your feet. However, don’t get nervous, this article will take you through the pre-interview preparation, demonstrate how you should conduct yourself during the interview and showing you the pitfalls that you should avoid. On the other hand, if you already know one or two things about this stage of job screening, this article will enhance your knowledge. It is also recommended that you register for this lesson to learn about the various interview strategies.
What the Employer Wants to Know
- Whether you can work effectively in a high-pressure and stressful environment.
- How well you can interact with people from all walks of life.
- Your communication skills: This aims at gauging how well you can communicate with your seniors or juniors.
- Whether you are capable of making quick decisions.
- Ability to switch from one topic to another.
- Rapport-building skills and your confidence levels.
Now that you are aware of what interview panelists look for in a candidate, you need to know how prepare for the interview well. There is nothing as worse than attending an interview when you are unprepared and looking clueless.
A popular saying by a famous person goes along that if given six hours to cut down a tree with an axe; he would spend first five of them sharpening the axe. In other words, prepare as much as you can. You can allow other factors to disqualify you for the job, but being unprepared should not be one of them.
Learn to Control Yourself
If you are nervous, your body has a way of revealing it. Some people sweat at the palm of their hands, or fidget on their seats while others cross their arms across their chests. Before you go for the interview, study how your body responds to stressful situations, and learn to keep the reaction under control. No one can claim not to get nervous during an interview. However, it all boils down to how well they control the tension.
Familiarize yourself with your Resume
Make sure you understand your resume well. Just because you drafted it does not mean that you can recall everything included on it in detail. Go through it twice or even thrice. You don’t want to be caught off-guard by being asked a question based on information provided on your resume only for you to give the wrong response.
Have Everything you need Ready
On the day before your interview, check that list of items that you are required to carry with you to the interview is in order. Print out extra copies of your resume as you may not know how many panelists will be available during the interview.
Research about the Company and its Key Functions
Remember that the interview will be conducted by different panelists derived from various departments within the organization. As such, research the various operations of the organization and how they are intertwined. This will help you formulate possible questions that the panelists are likely to ask. Solid knowledge of the company shows that you are interested in working there, which improves your candidacy prospects for the job.
Be professional in your dressing. Ladies should avoid skirts expose their upper thighs as the panelists might view you in a negative light. After all, your dress code says a lot about your personality.
Etiquette at a Panel Interview
Many panel interviews look for people who work best in team settings. In such a setting, etiquette becomes a key concern. There is no employer who wants to recruit someone who interrupts other people when they are presenting their views in a meeting. Besides exuding confidence, make sure you do the following in order to score highly on etiquette evaluation;
Walk in With your Head Held High
Walking with such posture is a sign of confidence. Don’t place your hands in front of your body and avoid fidgeting as much as possible.
Be Professional in your Handshake
Ensure you shake all the panelists professionally. Such a handshake should be firm and simultaneously convey warmth. As you shake their hands, maintain eye contact. Furthermore, when the panelists introduce themselves, memorize their names so as to use them later for your advantage. It is often said that the sweetest sound to a person’s ear is the sound of his or her own name.
Sit straight and avoid slouching on your chair. Doing so is a sign of disinterest in the interview and turns off the interviewers. An upright posture also keeps you alert and confident.
Maintain Eye Contact with Each Panelist
Respond directly to the panelist who asks the question. Look him in the eye as you respond. As well look at other panelists but end your response looking at the one who asked in the first place.
Be Clear and Precise
Show respect to the panelists and answer their questions clearly and precisely.
Take Your Time But Don’t Take too Long to Respond
Don’t rush your answers; taking some time to think your questions through ensures you give clear and concise answers. Most interviewers are interested in learning about your thought process. However, avoid taking too long to answer, as this may paint you as a slow thinker.
Tackling the Interview Itself
Remember that each of the panelists is different and that your answers can mean different things to each of them. This kind of interview requires you to be at your best so proceed as follows;
When answering questions, give each panelist equal amount of attention. Don’t answer one panelist in thirty seconds and then spend a whole five minutes trying to explain yourself to another. Yes, questions might differ but nonetheless try to give balanced attention to each panelist.
Doing so indicates that if you are selected for the job, you are likely pay more attention to certain colleagues and ignore others. Whether one is a security personnel, tea girl or even a manager; it does not matter what their positions are in the company. All staff members are equally important and should be treated as such.
Maintain your Cool
With various questions flying from different sides of the room, it can be hard to keep your composure. However, muster all the self-control you can. The motive behind such a scenario is to put you under immense pressure to see how you will perform in the real environment. So don’t lose it. Let them see that you can thrive under pressure. After all, once the interview is over, you can head to a secluded place and let it loose.
Share the Copies you Brought
As earlier advised at the pre-interview stage, you should bring enough copies of your documents to the interview. Don’t wait for them to ask; just, share them out to each panelist. This shows preparation and interest in the role that you are being interviewed for. It also shows that you are organized and responsible.
During the interview, be focused and avoid being distracted by anything. If a panelist picks up his ringing phone, don’t let this capture your attention even for a second. Such a situation might occur when you are in a board meeting or out with clients and you are supposed to be focused to matters at hand.
When Given the Chance, Ask Questions
Research the company, its competitors and industry as well as recent events that directly impact its operations. Use the findings of the research to craft intelligent and thought-provoking questions to ask the panelists. Ask questions that will paint you in a positive note. For example, you can ask for clarification about something you did not understand when you were conducting your research on their website. This way, the panelists will see that you really did an extensive research.
Show Appreciation at the End
Once the interview is over, thank all the participants for giving you a chance to attend the interview. Tell them that you appreciated the chance you had been given to highlight your skills and competencies. You can also learn about other effective methods on how you can make an impact when the interview is over.
Pitfalls to avoid during this Kind of Interview
Dodge a Tough Question
Try as much as possible to say something, even if you don’t have a clue about a particular question. Just be creative and try to talk your way out of the situation. In a real working environment, you are supposed to respond to client inquiries one way or another. Thus, failure to answer a difficult question might greatly affect your chances of getting a job as employers want people who are capable of thinking on their feet fast.
Once you are through with the interview, make a point of crafting a thank you note addressed to the interviewers. While there is no guarantee that you may have been selected as the candidate to fill the role, a thank-you note can turn the tide in your favor. This is because the decision on which candidate to hire is not made during the interview, but afterwards when the panelists meet to evaluate each candidate’s score.
Completely Nothing to Ask
When you are given the chance to ask questions, use this opportunity to turn the tables and put the panelist in your shoes, albeit for a few minutes. Use this chance to impress them. If you fail to do so, they will write you off as someone who lacks ambition and is unimaginative. You need to show that you have the zeal to learn new things.
Gaps in your Story
Your story should flow seamlessly such that the panel will never identify any gaps in your career and academic history. If there are things you don’t want to include such as the fact that you were fired by your previous employer, find a way to maneuver through this tricky situation.
Interview settings differ from one organization to another, but basically the content and approach remains similar. Ensure you understand the above panel interview tips before you go out for your next interview. Above all, always prepare well in advance as this is what makes a big difference. If you can, please do enroll for this crash course to help you master your interview skills within the shortest time possible.