Whether it’s your first time looking for a job or not, at some point during the job hunt you will have to go through a panel interview.
The actual meaning of “panel interview” is basically when two or more people conduct your interview. Although answering questions in front of many people can be stressful, the best strategy is to show up prepared to reduce anxiety and avoid any mistakes.
This detailed guide will help you understand what you need to do before, during, and after your panel interview. Let’s dive in.
- Just as the name implies, the panel interview is when a group of panelists conduct the interview. This means, two or more people will be asking questions.
- Usually, the panelists of an interview are representatives of the company, such as managers, team leaders and the HR.
- Companies often prefer using panel interviews primarily because multiple people can meet you at once, which saves the company’s time.
- Before entering your panel interview, it’s important to research the panelists so you can show professionalism by addressing each member of the panel by their name.
What is a Panel Interview?
As mentioned above, a panel interview is when more than one interviewer is present during your interview.
Panel interviews typically last longer than traditional one-on-one interviews, and candidates may be asked a wider range of questions. It’s important for candidates to stay engaged, listen carefully to each interviewer’s question, and provide thoughtful and concise answers.
Although speaking in front of more than one person might seem difficult, a panel interview has its benefits as well. As you will get a chance to speak to more people, you will forgo additional interview rounds during the hiring process.
Additionally, if one of the panelists doesn’t like your presentation, the discussion with the other members might sway them, possibly increasing your chances of getting the job.
Who Can Be a Part of the Panel?
The panelists in your interview will likely be employees occupying different positions in the company, but very rarely the owner or a CEO. People you can meet during your panel interview are:
- The company’s general manager
- A project manager
- The company’s human resources representative
- Your future team leader or co-worker
Before the interview, it’s a good idea to look up everyone’s names and job positions. This will make it easier for you to connect with them and address them properly when you have questions.
What Type of Companies Use Panel Interviews
Panel interviews are quite common, especially in certain industries.
It’s best to be ready for the panel interview, no matter what industry you’re applying to. However, this type of interview is more common in the following areas of work:
- Higher education
- Government positions
- Non profit organizations (NPO’s)
- Finance companies
Why Do Companies Use Panel Interviews?
The main reasons why companies prefer using panel interviews are the following:
- It saves them time. Since the panelists can be multiple people from the company, they will be able to meet you at once. This will save both of yours and the company’s time.
- It gives more perspectives. By having multiple panelists, companies can have different views on your job skills, experience, and personality. This is also a great way to reduce bias.
- It allows them to challenge you. Since a panel interview will be held with more people, panelists can see how well you communicate with everyone and how you handle a challenging situation with multiple people.
How to Prepare For a Panel Interview
One of the best things you can do before your interview is to find ways to show your excitement about the job and that you’re interested in learning more about it.
To do so, you can prepare the following:
Research Panel Members
The first step in preparing for your interview is to do some research on each panelist. Learn each member’s name, job position, and what they’re in charge of in the company.
This will make it easier for you to address a specific panel member during your interview and have a conversation with them about things that directly concern them. Additionally, this will show that you’re interested in the company and passionate about the job.
Bring Enough Material
If you decide to bring specific documents to your interview, such as your resume or portfolio, make sure you bring enough copies for each panel member. It’s also recommended to bring some additional copies for backup as well.
Besides that, it’s also a good idea to bring your business cards with you, if you have any. Give them to each panelist so that they can contact you after the interview, if necessary.
Treat it Like a Typical Interview
Last but not least, all the preparation you’d do for a one-on-one interview should be done here as well. Research the job position, the company, and what they’re looking for, and tailor your resume and self-presentation to the job description.
6 Tips on How to Perform Well During the Panel Interview
Once you’ve learned how to prepare for your interview, it’s time to find out how to do well on your panel interview. To make a lasting impression on the interview panel, best practices are as follows:
#1. Read the Room
Once you enter the interview room, look around you to quickly scan your environment and the panel members. Take a closer look at their facial expressions and body language.
During the interview, if you see them with a half smile, it probably means you’re doing well. Moreover, check whether the interview panel is nodding when you answer, as this can also be a good indicator that you’re doing okay.
#2. Engage With Everyone
To establish a proper relationship with each panelist, it’s important to engage with each one of them. Maintain eye contact while you answer, pay attention, and make sure you nod to each panelist, as this is the best way to show that you’re an active listener and have good communication skills.
If a panel member asks you a question, maintain good eye contact with them while periodically shifting your attention to everyone else in the room as well.
#3. Be Mindful of Your Body Language
Once you introduce yourself to every panelist, keep a good posture and smile when appropriate. Try not to use your hands too much while talking, as this can be distracting.
Lastly, if this is the second round of your interview, make sure to shake everyone’s hand and introduce yourself once again. Don’t assume that everyone in the room fully remembers you!
#4. Take Notes
Another good tip you can consider is to take notes during your interview. Prepare a notebook and pen beforehand and take them with you, as this will demonstrate your organizing skills.
You should inform the panelists that you plan to take notes so that they can give you the green light. Some interviewers don’t like that, so make sure to check with them first.
To avoid losing track of what is being said or asked, try to keep your notes as short and simple as possible. Your main focus should be on the panelists and their questions.
#5. Be Patient
Another thing you should consider is that sometimes you will get similar questions and you might get interrupted while talking. However, it’s important to stay patient. Show that you’re ready to answer and repeat answers more clearly so that the panel can understand you better.
Additionally, patience is necessary since the interview can last anywhere from 45 minutes to a few hours. Prepare yourself and avoid yawning or slouching during the interview.
#6. Ask Questions
It’s really useful to prepare a list of questions that you want to ask the panelists beforehand. Besides that, you can also write them down throughout the interview.
You might also be able to ask questions throughout the interview, but if you do decide to do so, make sure you’re not interrupting anyone.
What to do After a Panel Interview
Last but not least, once you finish your panel interview, it’s good practice to thank the panelists via email. You can thank them for their time and express some of your enthusiasm.
You can also mention some of your strengths and career goals and say that you look forward to hearing from them soon.
It’s best to send the email around two days after you’re done with your interview. If you get a positive response, you can then ask about your performance.
Remote Panel Interview
A remote panel interview is conducted online through a video chat. Since it’s different from a live panel interview, you will have to go through an additional checklist beforehand.
First, it’s a good idea to research the video chat platform. Google Meet, Skype, or Zoom are the most widely used ones, and they all have specific interfaces that you should be able to easily navigate. Make sure to create an account beforehand and test out how to turn your camera and microphone on and off.
Try to find a spot that has good lighting, and ask your family members or roommates to remain silent during the interview so you don’t face any distractions. Additionally, position yourself in front of a white wall and avoid wearing complicated designs.
During the interview, try to speak with a higher tone so that your microphone can pick up your voice. Wait for your turn to speak and let the panelists know when you’re done with your answer.
A panel interview can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be if you follow the advice outlined in this guide.
Research the company and the panel members before your interview and be mindful of your face and body movements and you should be good to go! Take notes during the interview to help you remember things and to make it easier for you to ask the right questions at the end.
Once the panel interview is done, make sure to send a professional email to each panel member to thank them for their time.
We hope this guide has helped you learn everything you wanted to know about the panel interview and we wish you good luck on your next one!