Preparing for a panel interview can be a daunting task. To help you navigate this process, we’ve gathered twelve invaluable tips from top Recruitment Consultants and Career Coaches. From assessing the company culture to managing multiple interviewers’ dynamics, these professionals share their best advice and the challenges you should anticipate.
- Assess the Comp any Culture
- Adjust to Personalities
- Conduct Mock Interviews, Prepare for Follow-ups
- Try the Crystal Extension for Chrome Browsers
- Prepare Powerful Examples
- Be Aware of “Hot Buttons”
- Address Your Role from Three Points
- Handle Rapid-fire Questioning
- Maintain Your Composure
- Look into LinkedIn Profiles
- Manage Multiple Interviewers’ Dynamics
Assess the Company Culture
Preparing for a panel interview involves more multidimensional research than for interviews with just one person. You should obtain the names of each interviewer on the panel and do research on their roles, as well as how they may interact with the role for which you’re interviewing. You need to think more broadly about your potential relationship with each of them in your future role.
This is a great opportunity to assess the culture of the company. Observe how they interact with each other, both verbally and nonverbally. Are they kind and respectful? Do they share eye contact and smiles? Is there tension or awkwardness? One challenge to expect is some of them may give intimidating body language that makes you more anxious. Try instead to focus on the most positive and encouraging person on the panel; pretend they are your personal cheerleader and allow them to boost your confidence and poise in the interview.
Expect Unexpected Questions
One tip I recommend to all candidates I work with is to check out the backgrounds of the people you will be speaking with. This not only gives you a frame of reference to understand the questions that they will ask, but also allows you to demonstrate during the interview that you did your research. That research can show that you care about the position and it isn’t something that you are doing for the sake of it.
A challenge to expect is interviewers asking you unexpected questions. I once had an interview that asked me about my greatest failure, and let me tell you, that wasn’t one I was ready to talk about. In these instances, don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer if you can have a moment to think about the question. This demonstrates thoughtfulness on your part and allows you the time you need to answer the question to the best of your ability.
Adjust to Personalities
When going into a panel interview, the first thing that I always recommend asking is who you will be interviewing with. This allows you to find out and learn a bit about their role in the organization and relevant information about their background. Not only does this allow you to prepare for the interview, but knowing how many members will be on the panel and the various seniority and background levels of the interviewers tends to make you feel a bit more at ease as you enter the conversation. The challenge that I see both young and senior professionals struggle with during panel interviews is being able to shift between the various personalities of your interviewers. In most cases, the personalities are all different, and you must adjust your responses to meet the various perspectives and personalities while maintaining consistency and engagement throughout the interview.
Conduct Mock Interviews, Prepare for Follow-ups
To prepare for a panel interview, it’s always beneficial to do your research and anticipate potential questions, especially those related to the specific role you applied for. Conducting a mock interview and practicing with others, such as friends, family, or a career coach, can be helpful. These individuals can provide real-time feedback on your responses and assist you in making necessary revisions.
A potential challenge to prepare for is follow-up questions that ask for specific examples. As a former hiring manager, it was observed that interviewees often failed to provide specific examples. Therefore, ensure you’re ready to provide further detail as required.
Try the Crystal Extension for Chrome Browsers
Panel interviews may have just a couple of interviewers or, in some cases, up to five or six. The interviewers will have different styles. Some may want fast responses and the big picture; others may be looking for detail, analytical thinking, and judgment. Researching your multiple interviewers’ backgrounds and their preferred communication styles will help you deliver your answers in ways that best satisfy them and enable them to understand and appreciate the value you can offer.
A useful tool is the “Crystal” extension for your Google Chrome browser. With a single click, this will run a highly accurate DISC personality profile on the person to enable you to understand their preferences, energizers to use, and drainers to avoid. Used in conjunction with their LinkedIn career history, you’ll discover how to deliver your answers differently to impress and appeal to different members of your interview panel.
Prepare Powerful Examples
Investigate the interviewers. Understanding their roles in the company will help you adjust your replies in a way that resonates more with them.
Then, bring powerful examples to the table—read the job description carefully and prepare in advance three to four good examples that you can share to demonstrate that you have the required soft and hard skills (don’t improvise this part).
Interact with all of them, even if you feel more connected to one specific person. Remember that all the interviewers are evaluating you.
If the panel interview is online, watch out for the same things you would care about in a one-on-one interview: have a professional background, connect on time, test your webcam and microphone beforehand, and dress accordingly.
By following this advice, you will increase your chances of landing the job for which you are interviewing.
Juliana Rabbi, Career Coach for Remote Jobs
Be Aware of “Hot Buttons”
You want to gather as much information about each of your interviewers as you can to understand their “hot buttons.” Besides researching each person via an internet search and their social media history, see if any of your first- or second-degree connections know them and ask what information would help prepare for an interview.
it’s hard to “read the room.” Try to be aware of the dynamics happening during the interview. If someone seems more skeptical about you, you might want to give them more attention when answering to win them over.
Address Your Role from Three Points
Know your audience. When preparing for a panel interview, it pays to know who you’re facing and what their needs are.
For example, the HR person on your panel wants to ensure workplace fit. Do you demonstrate the core values of the organization? The hiring manager will want to know you can get the job done. What examples can you share that demonstrate you can fulfill the responsibilities listed on the job posting? The senior leader/executive wants to see how you potentially fit into the larger picture. How can she use your technical and soft skills to advance the company’s and/or division’s agenda?
Your challenge is recognizing each panelist has different needs they want fulfilled. Look at your role from three points of view: near-term, mid-term, and long-term. By addressing each, you’ll pass the panel interview challenge with flying colors.
Handle Rapid-fire Questioning
Preparing for a panel interview can be greatly aided by researching each panel member beforehand. Understanding their roles, areas of expertise, and professional backgrounds can provide valuable insights into the questions they might ask. This knowledge allows for tailoring answers to resonate with each panel member, increasing the likelihood of a favorable impression.
A challenge with panel interviews is the potential for overlapping or rapid-fire questioning. Multiple interviewers may pose questions quickly or simultaneously, which can be disorienting. Remaining composed under such circumstances is essential. Taking a brief moment to gather thoughts before answering, and if needed, politely asking for clarification on which question to address first, can be beneficial.
Thorough preparation and a poised demeanor can lead to better performance in panel interviews.
Maintain Your Composure
When you set up the interview, ask the recruiter if you can receive a list of the names of everyone with whom you will be interviewing. Do your due diligence by researching who these folks are, what their backgrounds are, how long they have been at the company, and any connections you may have in common.
If there is a common network connection, ask them to put in a good word on your behalf prior to the interview! A challenge will be maintaining nerves (practice helps with this by doing mock interviews with a coach) and ensuring you make good eye contact with all present. Whether in-person or online, make an attempt to connect and smile with each person participating.
Look into LinkedIn Profiles
As a career and leadership coach, the best guidance I can offer for acing panel interviews is to research each panel member as extensively as possible. Understand their roles in the organization and their backgrounds. You can do this by viewing their LinkedIn profiles. You can also ask the recruiter ahead of the interview for this information. This knowledge can help you tailor your responses to align with their interests and priorities.
The greatest challenge in a panel interview is addressing the diverse perspectives of the various panelists due to their unique focuses, concerns, and positions on the team. Providing answers that satisfy all members can be difficult. To navigate this, aim for concise responses that find common ground while aligning with the broader interview objectives.
Manage Multiple Interviewers’ Dynamics
One valuable tip for preparing for a panel interview is to thoroughly research each panel member. Understanding their roles, backgrounds, and areas of expertise can help tailor your responses and questions accordingly. This not only demonstrates your genuine interest in the panel but also allows you to engage with them effectively during the interview.
However, one challenge to expect in a panel interview is managing the dynamics of multiple interviewers. Each panel member may have different priorities, questions, and expectations. Balancing your responses to address the concerns of each member while maintaining a coherent and concise narrative can be challenging.
It’s crucial to stay composed, address each question with clarity, and ensure that you maintain eye contact and engage with each panel member equally. Practicing beforehand with a mock panel or a trusted friend can help you refine your skills and navigate this challenge successfully.