How To Prepare For a Panel Interview

You have suddenly found out that the company you have applied for a job with, wants to see you for a final interview. That’s great news!! You are really excited, until you hear that they have asked for you to come in for a panel interview, and your heart just sink!!!. Panel interviews are something most people find very intimidating and extremely nerve wracking..... This however does not need to be the case, and you should feel no different about it, than if you had been invited to come in for a one on one interview. Try to look at it as this as an opportunity for you to prove your worth to a group of individuals who are instrumental in deciding on whom the company will be employing for that particular role. The reason that companies conduct panel interviews is that it gives them the chance to get their technical experts, human resources representatives, line managers and senior leadership present all at the same time. This helps to ensure that the candidate has been checked in all areas, not only in terms of compatibility technically to the role, but also in terms of behaviour, personality traits etc So decide to make the most of it, by preparing thoroughly, and by enjoying the opportunity to meet a group of company management face to face.

Always keep in mind as well that the fact that you have been short-listed for a panel means you meet the requirements of the position and have been singled out with a select few as worthy of further consideration. Companies don’t waste their time on conducting panel interviews unless they are interested!! How can you prepare for a panel interview???

Firstly, work on your communication skills and the effect you will have on the panel. Your performance in these areas may give you the edge over other candidates. Carefully plan what you will wear, practise your greeting and goodbye.

Very importantly ask for the names and job titles of those conducting the panel interview in advance so you can memorise and use them. Panel interviews can be very nerve wracking, and it’s so easy to forget the names if you are not familiar with them prior to the interview taking place.

BE CONFIDENT......and even if you are not feeling confident, try to project confidence. Use a mentor or coach to work with you in a practice interview role play.

Remember that eye contact is extremely important. Remember to always focus on the person who asked the question but also include the other members of the panel.

When you sit down in your panel interview, take out your pen and paper and ask if they mind if you make some notes during the interview. First, note down their names as they are seated, if you don't already have this information written down. You will use their names when you respond to their questions, this demonstrates good communication skills, so it is important to know who is who! It also gives you a little time to “play with” whilst writing the odd note.

Essential to panel interview tips is to bring a list of prepared questions to ask during your panel interview. These should be questions that you can address to different members of the panel relevant to their different organizational roles. Knowing who the panel members are beforehand, helps facilitate this tremendously.

Some senior roles require formal presentation ability, so you may be asked you to prepare a short presentation. If this is the case, don’t panic!! Prepare thoroughly and keep it simple.

Very importantly - Listen carefully, take notes and, if necessary, check you completely understand the question asked. Do not rush into an answer. Take a few seconds to organise and think through your answer and do not feel uncomfortable if this leads to a few minutes of silence. If you do not understand the question, don’t be scared to ask again.

Talk slowly and clearly, don’t rush through what you want to say. By talking slowly, it gives you time to gather your thoughts before giving your answers, and those involved in the panel interview to understand and absorb what you are saying.

Make sure you know and understand the technical knowledge required for the job, and try to research this area before the interview, if possible. If you are being interviewed for a technical role, it is highly likely that they will ask you technical questions in order to assess your suitability to the role. If you do not understand the question, or what they are trying to ask you, speak out. Rather double check so that you understand what they are asking of you, than to give them the wrong answer, because you did not understand what was being asked of you. One of the most important panel interview tips!! Shake hands and thank each interviewer personally at the end of the interview. And most importantly .....Be Positive!!! Believe in yourself.......remember they have you there because they are interested in you.