Panel Interviews, are really easy to identify, if you are in an interview, sitting across from two or more interviewers, you might be in the middle of a panel interview. Panel interviews are a time efficient alternative to the often lengthy hiring and interviewing process that a company sometimes needs to go through to fill a position. It enables companies to make key decisions in a short amount of time, and see how candidates respond in group settings.

Panel interview questions can be difficult, fast-paced, and multi-layered, so it is hard to know where to start. Stick to the tips and hints below so you are prepared for the ins and outs of the panel interview.   

Know your panel

The very first step in preparing for a panel interview is to research your panel. As you accept the proposed interview time, do not be afraid to ask for further information about your potential interviewers. They will all be from different aspects of the company, and will want to know how you fit into their individual work culture. This may sound overwhelming and can result in cross-talk and follow-up questions, but that is one of the purposes of panel interviews: to evaluate how you respond under pressure.

If the only information available about the panel members are their names, then you can still use this to your advantage. Simply, commit the names to memory and make sure you use them clearly in your introductions.

Stay cool, calm, and confident

During the interview, make sure you are directing your answers clearly and concisely to each interviewer. The whole point of the panel interview is to test your engagement levels within a group environment, so keep your posture up and make eye contact. Smile and breathe evenly. This will express your strong interpersonal communication skills.

When answering questions, ensure that you do not rush your answers. While it can be easy to get flustered by the situation at hand, centre yourself by taking a deep breath and delivering answers as they come, even if they are the ‘rapid-fire’ kind. Additionally, you will most likely be asked if you have any questions you would like to ask. Have a couple of questions prepared that demonstrate your interest in the role.

Be aware of your body language

Remember that the panel interview is a conversation! Directing your body language and eye contact to just one panelist can negatively affect your chances of securing the role, as other interviewers may feel excluded. Each interviewer must be engaged equally, so you must successfully make connections and develop rapport with each and every member present. Even if an interviewer is looking down and writing notes on a notepad, they are still listening to what you say. Scan the panel when answering questions and keep up your smile, even if you are thinking hard about your answers.

Final steps

As is common practice with all interviews, thank the panel individually for taking the time to interview you. Being offered a panel interview means you are a main competitor for the job, so really push your interest by outlining how keen you are to work with the panelists. Shortly after your panel interview, send a thank you note to each interviewer in the form of an email. You have put your best foot forward, so relax and keep your fingers crossed. That job offer is right around the corner!