As part of the hiring process, you might be asked to be in a panel interview or have multiple meetings onsite at an organization. Talking to multiple people can be intimidating and nerve-wracking so you must know how to approach this type of job interview to succeed.
Tips for Handling Panel Interviews
- Read the room and engage with everyone. It’s essential to try and develop rapport with each panel interviewer and avoid playing favorites when answering questions. Make eye contact with each person. Remember, you don’t necessarily know who has the most decision-making power about hiring, so aim to respond to everyone who asks you a question with a thorough and thoughtful answer, regardless of the job title or the way they present themselves.
- Remember that each interviewer is unique. Consider each person a new audience with their particular hiring interests, “hot buttons,” expectations, and views about how well you’ll be a match or fit in within the company culture. What is most important to interviewer A will not be the same as interviewer B, or C. Don’t assume each panel interviewer will answer the same questions the same way or more importantly will hear and understand your responses the same way. If talking to multiple hiring personnel separately, keep in mind that one interviewer may not fill another interviewer in about what you shared with them.
- Ask, probe, and clarify. Determine what each panel interviewer believes the expectations are for the position and the desired qualifications needed to be a good fit/match for the role. What hard skills and personal abilities/capabilities (soft skills) are they looking for?
- Provide examples to accompany your responses (examples=facts=proof=evidence). Think ahead about what you do in your current role to contribute and influence. Be prepared to share your best examples that exemplify and communicate your accomplishments, experiences, and lessons learned. Your resume should include information to support these examples.
- Pull from information previously gathered. If you’ve researched the position and organization or had a phone interview, share your thoughts about what you learned at the panel interview.
- Take advantage of breaks. Panel interviews are sometimes referred to as taking an endurance test. During breaks, walk around to get your blood and oxygen flowing, and drink plenty of water. Panel interviews sap mental energy; the longer you interview, the more you’ll need to recharge.
- Close the meeting. Ask each interviewer what else would they like to know about you. If there is something that you are still not clear about, this is a good time to clarify that. These remaining minutes will be their last impression of you so take 30 seconds to let them know that you’re genuinely interested in the position and why. Close by thanking them for their time.
Preparing For a Remote Interview
The biggest challenge to speaking with multiple people remotely is overcoming technology challenges. Make sure you know the format they want you to use such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or WebEx. Practice beforehand and make sure you are in a quiet and well-lit area that has a clean background.
Technology is not foolproof, so it’s wise to have backup plans. Keep a charged phone and laptop or tablet ready, and confirm if there is a secondary platform the interview should transition to if the initial one fails.