Panel Interview Tips

Sally Painter
Panel Interview
expert checked

Panel interview tips can help you prepare for this format of interviewing. If you've never had a panel interview, you may find it intimidating. You can overcome the stress of being questioned by a panel by going into the meeting prepared.

Panel Interview Concept and Practice

The panel interview method is believed to be a very efficient and effective form of interviewing candidates and is used by many organizations. When companies compress staff participation in the interview process into a panel, they're seeking a method to save time and speed up the hiring process. There is also the anticipation that the combined experience and knowledge of the panelists will lessen the chance of making the wrong hiring decision.

The panel interview technique is often used in employee-owned companies and other organizations that have team-led departments. The culture in these types of companies is very team-oriented, especially when it comes to hiring initiatives and reviews. With this type of structure, it makes sense that much of the hiring process is completed by a team from the department that has the open position. If you're interviewing for a job where the structure is team-oriented it's important to adjust your responses to reflect your ability to be a team player.

About the Panel Interviewing You

Some companies will tell you prior to the interview who will be sitting on the interview panel and others will not disclose this information. You may ask the recruiter who will be sitting on the panel, but don't be surprised if that information is unavailable to you prior to the interview.Most of the time you may be given a partial list of job titles, but not the actual names of the people.

Companies may choose to protect panel member's identities for several reasons. For example, many corporations protect their employees from outside contact for security or privacy reasons. Additionally, schedules often get shifted around due to what is going on within the company on a daily basis. When identities are not disclosed, companies can easily make changes to the panel should the need arise. Other companies have a more open culture and don't mind sharing names and job titles of those on the panel.

Dressing for Your Interview

It's always important to look your best for any interview. When going into a panel interview, there is an automatic "you versus them" atmosphere, so it's important to look and feel your absolute best. Your confidence level can be boosted when you choose the right outfit to wear. You will be center stage during the interview, so make sure your attire is appropriate and that you are comfortable in what you select.

Proper grooming is also important. Be sure that you have well-manicured fingernails and that your hair neatly trimmed and styled. Additionally, take care to ensure that your teeth are brushed, breath is fresh, deodorant is abundant, and shoes are polished. Women want to ensure that makeup isn't overdone and perfume is left off, since you never know if someone is chemically sensitive or has a negative association with certain scents. If wearing hose, make sure they are run-free. Present yourself as a professional and you'll feel very good about the impression you give.

Be Prepared

You'll be less stressed over your interview if you're prepared. Arrive armed with a copy of your resume for each member of the panel. Chances are than everyone on the panel has a copy of your resume, but slip-ups happen. Being prepared conveys you're attentive to detail and that you are able to anticipate possible problems that may arise in business situations. Make sure you have a copy for yourself. It's also important to conduct pre-interview research to learn the facts about the company. Additionally, jot down any questions you may have and include with any notes you take into the interview.

Meeting the Panel

Most likely, you won't know who is on the panel until you walk through the conference room door. Don't panic. No one expects you to know company staff members if you haven't been given information in advance. Smile politely to each person introduced. Give a firm handshake, look the person in the eye and repeat their name in your greeting to help you commit each name to memory. Panelists typically wear name tags or a name plate is placed on the table where they sit. Follow the recruiter's lead. She'll introduce you to each panel member and then direct you where to sit.

Who sits on an interview panel can differ from one company to another. Typically, HR (Human Resources) is represented either by the recruiter or an HR Manager. Depending on the job class, you may be interviewed by the executive staff that includes the president, CEO, CFO, and other department heads. If you' aren't applying for a high level job, then the panel will be made up of the department manager, one or more supervisors and a team leader. In some other instances, a peer level employee may also participate on the panel.

Panel Interview Tips for Questions

Usually, the designated panel chairperson will ask the first question and then allow the next panelist to ask a question and so on. Focus on the person you are responding to during the first part of your response, then be sure to look at each panel member for the last part of your answer. Relax. It helps to consider this interview as an opportunity to get a sampling of the type of people the company hires, understand who you'll be working with and whether or not you feel you can work with them. Answer the questions as directly as possible, don't go off on tangents or allow yourself to get sidetracked. Make sure you form your answers so the panel gets a precise image of your work history and the type of employee you'll make.

Interview Conclusion and Follow Up

The recruiter will let you know when the interview is over. Be sure to shake each panelists' hand and thank each one for her or his time and the opportunity to interview for the position. The recruiter will guide you out of the meeting and may possibly give you a packet of information about the company and its benefits. Remember to send thank you notes to each panelist. Demonstrating your professionalism during and after the appointment and following effective panel interview tips can make it a successful experience.

Panel Interview Tips