Maxwell Stephens

How to nail a panel interview

More and more frequently organisations are using the panel interview. Why? Because time is in short supply, people are busy, but it is increasingly important for multiple stakeholders to be involved in the hiring process. A one to one interview fills many candidates with a certain level of fear, but a panel interview sends most into a panic. The thought of three or four people with different perspectives and areas of expertise firing off questions can be daunting. However, with these top tips you can feel prepared and ready to succeed.


  • Do your research

It is important to find out who each person on the panel is and their job titles. You can use this information to see if the individuals have profiles on LinkedIn to find out more about them. At a minimum you are armed with the knowledge of which department the interviewer works for and therefore their position when asking questions.


  • Brainstorm questions

It would be impossible to anticipate all of the questions you will be asked. However, once you know each of the people’s roles, you can have a think about what they might be interested in and ask you about. For example if you are interviewing for the role of a Facilities Manager and a Finance Manager is on the panel, it would be prudent to think about management of budgeting and forecasting.


  • Introduce yourself to each interviewer

Walk in, be confident, and introduce yourself by name to each interviewer. Make sure you remember their names as this will help you to direct your answers properly during the interview.


  • Flex your communication style

As you move through the interview you will notice that each interviewer has a different communication style. They will also have different expectations in terms of how you answer questions – particularly around the length of your response. It is of course important to maintain consistency in your style but small tweaks to accommodate the interviewer is recommended.


  • Make connections

As you warm up during the interview, you may be in a position to make connections between the various interviewers and their perspectives and the questions that have already been asked. For example when answering a question you could link by saying, ‘Michael when you asked me earlier to describe a project I had worked on….’


  • Tailor your questions

Questions can be asked during the interview or at the end. Regardless of when you ask questions, consider the panel members, and where appropriate and possible aim what you are asking at a specific panel member.


In Summary


Interviews make the best of us nervous, but the panel interview takes that to another level for most. It can seem like a one to one interview times three or four. However, a refreshing way for a candidate to look at this is that the organisation is not doing it to fill them with dread – it is most likely simply for practicality purposes. Once you know you will be having a panel interview, work methodically through tips 1 and 2 above so that you feel well prepared. Then in the interview apply tips 3-6.


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