3 Ways To Sail Through A Panel Interview
How many of you have been offered an interview for that amazing job you’ve seen, only to have your stomach sink when they tell you that, as part of the application process, there’ll be a panel interview?
As if the prospect of an interview for a role you’d love isn’t nerve-wracking enough, you’re going to have to speak and hold it together in front of not one, but four people!
I know the thought of being interviewed by a group of people may make you feel uncomfortable but it’s really not too dissimilar to a one-on-one interview; you just need to be a little more prepared and little more intentional. Moreso than practical steps, delivering a great panel interview is more about your mindset and feeling comfortable before and during your interview.
Luckily for you, I have 3 tips to have you sailing through the interview like a hot knife through butter. (Sorry for the lame metaphor.)
1. Research (and by research, I mean Google) the interviewers in advance to find out more about their current roles and who they are. Contact the person named on your invite letter or email for this information and if you feel a little funny about this, just tell them you’re preparing ahead of your interview. This will help to familiarise yourself with the panel so that they seem less like a bunch of intimidating strangers when you arrive.
2. Practice ahead of the interview by recording yourself with video or audio and observe the way that you respond to questions. Do you tend to fidget or use verbal fillers such as ‘erm’ and ‘like’ a lot? Listening and/or watching yourself can feel weird (I absolutely HATE it) but it’s very helpful in improving your interview technique as you’ll see how you come across and be able to adapt your style.
3. Maintain a natural level of eye contact with all members of the panel during the interview, regardless of who asks questions. Not all at the same time, obviously – that’ll make you look like a crazy woman, but enough so that it feels like a normal conversation. The next time you’re speaking with a group of people, practice balancing the amount of eye contact you make with each person involved and likewise, just observe the way that people shift their attention from person to person when speaking with a group.
Panel interviews can actually work in your favour as you’re given the opportunity to meet with a group of people with different perspectives, rather than just one. Even better if the panel is diverse. Different aspects of your responses will resonate with different members of the panel, depending on their agendas, their thoughts, their level of insight into the role itself and their opinions. This is good!
So love, I hope you feel a little more reassured in knowing that there really isn’t that much to a panel interview. The main thing is that you feel comfortable and this starts with being prepared. As with any interview, do your research beforehand, think about the questions you’re likely to be asked, go armed with strong examples as to how you meet the criteria for the role and above all, do you. You’ve got this!