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7 Tips for Panel Interview Success

As we have mentioned in previous blogs, interviews today come in many different forms. Virtual interviews, which became popular during the COVID-19 pandemic, are still common. Screening phone interviews are often used by Human Resources to make sure you are an acceptable candidate. Video interviews beginning to catch on, and finally, the panel interview remains a common option.


Why do employers like to use a panel interview? Well, it is a time-effective way to have several key players interview a candidate. Instead of having one candidate in for the day where they bounce from one company representative to another, why not bring 5-10 people to one interview and get it done within an hour or so? This may even allow the company to hold 4 or 5 interviews on the same day, lead ing to a more efficient and timely decision.


What does a panel interview mean for the candidate? More butterflies, likely! It can be intimidating to walk into a room full of people and have to answer question after question around the table. The good news is, there are things you can do to prepare. Let's consider 7 tips to help what can often be a stressful situation.


1) Job Candidates Have the Right to Ask Questions Before the Panel Interview

Many people automatically assume that interviewers are the only ones allowed to ask questions. Not true! As a job candidate, you can ask questions before, during and after your interview. Before you arrive, ask the following questions to help you prepare:

  • How many people will be in the room during my interview?

  • Will they all be asking me questions?

  • Who will be interviewing me? (You can use this information to do a little online research to learn about the interviewers)

  • How will the interview be structured?

  • How long do you anticipate the interview will take?

  • Do you expect me to provide a presentation or any other materials?


Once you know what to expect, you can practice and plan accordingly. Knowing in advance will also help ease some of the anxiety you may have about the upcoming interview.


2) Plan Your Eye Contact During the Panel Interview


It is not possible to make eye contact with 5 people at once. Think through how you will handle this during the panel interview. Will you look directly at the person who asked you the question? Will you gaze around the room?


We suggest you start by looking at the person who asked the question and then shift your eye contact to the other people in the space. That allows you to answer the question directly, but also ensures you are engaging everyone at the interview.


3) Plan Any Handouts for the Right Amount of People

We here at Revision Resume advise you to bring paper copies of your resume to the interview. Many times, panelists have not printed them out. In addition, there may be someone who was called in last-minute to sit in on the interview. Having enough copies (and being prepared with a few extra) of your resume -- and any other pertinent handouts -- will demonstrate your ability to think ahead and be prepared...great qualities every company is looking for!


4) Don't Let the Pace of the Panel Interview Get Away from You

In a 1:1 interview, there tend to be natural breaks as the interviewer writes down notes before moving on to the next question. This isn't needed during a panel interview; with multiple people asking questions, they can go from one to the next immediately. It can feel like you are in front of a firing squad! Bring some water and take a sip between questions to slow down the pace. Allow yourself to pause and think about how you want to answer. Don't feel rushed just because the questions are coming rapid-fire.


5) Bring Your Own Questions...and Ask Them!

Remember the interview is for you as well! You need to gauge if this job will be a good fit. To achieve that, you want to bring your questions and ask them during the interview. Not sure what to ask? Look no further than Revision Resume's blog, filled with suggestions.


6) Read the Room

A panel interview gives you a great opportunity that a 1:1 interview doesn't. You can read the room and try to get a feel for what the work environment is like. How do the interviewers relate to each other? Does it feel like they work well as a team? Or do you sense squabbling and power issues? You may determine from reading the room that this is not a good environment to work in.


7) Show Gratitude Appropriately

At the end of the interview, ask for contact information from each panel member. This will allow you to send a thank you note (or value proposition letter) after the interview. It is important to show gratitude for the time they took to interview you. It is also an opportunity to remind each interviewer why you are the best person for the job. Try to make each thank you note unique.


Looking for more information about interviewing successfully? Revision Resume's blog has lots of helpful tips here!


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