Updated June 12, 2023
A panel interview is a job interview in which a candidate is questioned by two or more interviewers, generally from different areas or departments within the organization.
The panel can consist of various people, such as managers, team leaders, human resource representatives, or other employees.
A panel interview aims to understand the candidate’s qualifications, skills, and experience from multiple perspectives.
Getting excited over the call of the interview is one thing, but getting the news that the next interview will be by a panel of experts can rip you apart.
At that moment, even a very experienced candidate’s nerves can get shattered, and their brain completely wiped.
Tips to Survive a Panel Interview
You get a few minutes before entering an interview room, keep your dread aside, take a deep breath, and drink a glass of water.
- People sitting in the panel are also human beings like you, and you are not only giving an interview but also taking their interview.
- This is your chance to know whether this is the right company for you and where you would like to contribute your skills and get experience.
- You have already passed a few rounds, which means you are more capable than many candidates.
- Every time you enter the interview room, the interviewer hopes it will be his last one. All they are looking forward to are the traits in you which could be an excuse to give you the job.
With this approach, you would be more enthusiastic and confident if you entered the panel interview room. These thoughts would keep your nervousness at bay and help you face the panel.
1. Keep Calm
There is a need to learn how to stay calm during a job interview, which requires thorough preparation. Keeping calm gives the impression that you are confident, but it is not easy when you face many high-profile experts ready to bombard you with questions. A simple tip is when you are at home, create an imaginary scene of an interview, close your eyes for a few minutes, and rehearse for the interview in your mind. Also, remember the common interview questions and answers and some must-know interview questions. Even if you are not comfortable, continue to respond. Besides,prepare the questions you will be asking during the interview. It would help you to come out of the trap.
2. Wear an Appropriate Dress
In any interview, personality and proper dress make much difference. Plan what clothing you will be wearing on that day. Wear a dress in which you would feel comfortable. You do not want to go in front of the executives only to get discovered the sweat patches on your light-colored shirt. This applies to both girls and boys.
Pay complete attention to each detail, like a neat and clean dress, tidy hair, subtle makeup, and nails properly shaped.
Your body language is equally important. Sit straight while keeping your hands relaxed on your lap and retain eye contact.
3. Know the Panel
Generally, the panel of interview comprises members from different departments and areas of specialization who would judge the interviewee through their perspective and consider responses differently.
- Before the scheduled date, find out who is in the panel interview and know more about them.
- It is better to write down the names of each of them, understand their role in the company, and help estimate the questions they might ask and subsequently prepare for the same.
- During the interview, you can seek permission to keep notes.
- Prepare an index card for each panelist with main points on each card, including anticipated questions and details of the panelist focusing on his functional area.
- Arrange the cards in the panelists’ seating format to help you remember each panelist’s name; if you forgot something, you could refer to the note.
4. Know the Company
Learn as much as possible about the company and its technical jargon. Go through the website of the company very carefully to get the clues. If you find any terms, you need to become more familiar with them, learn about them, and use them while giving the panel interview answers. You can carry a set of notes or good panel interview questions which you can ask the panelists and refer to the same in case you are lost or nervous. Look at them and refocus your attention on what you are saying. Knowing that the notes are there for you can help you relax.
5. Engage with the Panelists
Keep yourself engaged with all the members.
- Try to maintain eye contact with the person asking the question, but look at each one in the panel when answering the question. This reflects your confidence which could help build rapport with each one in the room.
- Show optimism but be very careful not to be overconfident and neither arrogant. There has to be a line drawn between arrogance and confidence.
- Keep smiling and be in a relaxed mood.
- Also, keep consistency in your tone and style.
- And avoid handing out resumes and portfolios to panelists until asked to do so. This causes distraction.
- Create an environment of group discussion. Panelists also want to see whether you are showing a team attitude, can perform well in a team, and incorporate company culture and values.
So while giving panel interview answers and discussing any topic with them, involve each one in conversation.
5. Know the Objective
The main objective of the panel interview is not merely to find out who handles the pressure but who can go out of the box to provide the solution. Study the company, the services they provide, and the company’s standing in the industry. You can talk with the company’s HR manager about the panelists’ expectations if needed. This would help you to prepare yourself accordingly. Present a compelling story about who you are and what you have been doing all these years, and display your positive attitude and how you can be the best fit for the job.
6. Avoid Canned Answers
- Panelists often read a scripted question they ask all their candidates, keeping the panel interview process fairly well. They aim to see the extent of knowledge you have and how smartly you can answer.
- Do not answer as if you are a student but like an experienced person and in a conversational tone.
- Tell them what all your technical and interpersonal skills are most compelling. Remember to turn a common answer impressively and uniquely that could make you stand out.
- Try to give short and to-the-point panel interview answers; only elaborate on what you have already told if specially asked.
- Do not take too long to think, as the panelists can get impatient. Remember, each minute is precious.
- Know and prepare well for all the panel interview answers to the expected questions of your CV. Panelists ask questions from your CV, to which most candidates fail to respond. For instance, if there is a gap in your previous jobs, you should be ready to give a compelling answer. Scrutinize your CV, study the possible questions, and prepare your panel interview answers accordingly.
7. Prepare for the Follow-Up Questions
The panel interview evokes more follow-up questions than usual on a single idea. What is satisfactory for one interviewer may spark additional inquiries from other panelists. So make sure you are geared with many anecdotes and examples to explain and justify your answer. Tell them about your educational background and work experience and if you have any awards you have received. You might face moments of silence between the questions, but that should not bother you. Try to fill that moment with words.
8. Display Your Humorous Side
The company is looking for someone who can contribute their skills towards increasing productivity, but they also look forward to having a co-worker. In almost all organizations, a little bit of humor is a stress booster. While giving an interview, you can show your humorous side by telling a joke or laughing at something, adding a positive quote. No one would like to work with a very serious or dull person. A bit of humor and jokes ease the tense atmosphere and show you as a person with a positive attitude.
9. If you do not know the answer, say “No”
Even if you don’t know any answer, say so, and do not give a wrong explanation or half-correct answer. And never brag about anything. Remember, honesty always pays. Be truthful in whatever answers you give. Even if you had a bad experience in the past, tell it articulately. Yes, you had failed or not succeeded in the past, but now you have overcome your failure and learned how to deal with difficult situations. Of course, you have to talk about the positive side of yourself but do not boast about the things you don’t know. This creates a bad impression.
When the interview ends, thank all the participants and have their business cards if you do not have the same. You can send a thank you email.
Always remember that there is nothing to dread about the panel interview. If you have done your homework, prepared for the interview, have a positive outlook, and are optimistic with many success stories, there is nothing to worry about. But if you do not have any past success story to tell, display a positive side of yourself as you may have the skills they require the most. Always remember that you are the best in what you are and what you do. These thoughts will surely help you crack any interview.