Thursday, January 17, 2013

What to Do When Faced With a Panel Interview

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Dealing with one interviewer is tough enough, but sometimes you might be required to deal with an entire panel of interviewers. These panel interviews have their own challenges that aren't found in one-on-one interviews, and it's easy to become flustered with that many people grilling you. Read on to find out how to do well in a panel interview.

The first thing is to keep things simple by taking your cues from the interviewers. In a one-on-one interview, you would obviously be expected to greet the interviewer and shake hands. You will still likely have to do this with at least one of the interviewers in a panel interview, but don't expect to necessarily do it for all of them. If one or more interviewers hang back while one takes the lead, roll with it and don't press the issue. You may not even learn everyone's name or position. Don't worry about it if that happens.

Similarly, make eye contact with whoever is talking to you or asking you a question. Stay focused on that person, though you can look at the other interviewers every once in a while. Failing to maintain eye contact for long enough may make you seem shifty or inattentive, even if all you were trying to do is look at everyone. Keeping your eyes on one person will also help your nerves, since you'll only have to focus on how the one person is responding to what you're saying.

While you should focus on whoever is talking to you, don't rule anyone in the panel out. Any of the interviewers on the panel could be more important than you're being led to believe. Often the most important member of the panel will hang back and observe, allowing the other members to do all the questioning. They may even pretend to have a less important job, like an assistant. Treat everyone with respect, and expect questions to come from anywhere.

Finally, don't let the format get to you. A panel interview is still an interview, just with more people involved. Anyone may ask you a question at any time, but answer them just like you would in a one-on-one interview. You should do the same preparation for a panel interview as you would a normal one, and expect the same questions about your skills and experience. As with a normal interview, proper preparation is the key to getting the job.


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