For all we know, panel interview refers to a kind of interview where you are invited alone to the interview room, with a collective number of interviewers sitting right in front of you.
This format is usually adopted in organizations where decision-making is supposedly, based on group opinion, which employers will have to achieve unanimously. Perhaps there are so many people you will be working with and for that reason, many needs to get their eyes on you.
Undoubtedly, this style of interview is very daunting and intimidating, causing many to fail even before they know it. It’s not every one of us that is confident enough to sit in the presence of an interviewer, talk more of sitting in the presence of several interviewers, receiving a bombardment of questions.
Confidence and body language are the biggest challenges you have in this form of interview. I recognized them as the biggest because, if they are not in place, every other problem springs from them during the interview process. That said, you should be careful, keeping eyes on yourself, never letting them surface.
So, I’ve pieced together, a significant amount of tips that can work as a guide for you, exposing your mind to certain realities and giving you the chance to make a good impression on your next interview.
Tips On How To Deal With Panel Interviews
To make the most out of yourself, you just have to start taking actions and stop over thinking situations. If you continue to think about the interview without applying the knowledge you’re about to read, then there’s no point reading this guide in the first place; it’s a total waste of time!
But if on the other hand, you think you’re up for this interesting challenge, then let’s make it work!
Good Body Language And Composure
Your thoughts and of self-esteem are expressed outwardly through your body language and skillful interviewers knows how to decode every language that proceeds from the body including other non-verbal cues.
So you must be observant and confident enough to project only positive body language. Be sure you’re sitting up straight without slouching, with your shoulders open. Ensure you are facing everyone directly.
Speaking of composure, I am referring to the state of your mind and manners. Before the interview, try clearing out the internal monologue of the mind, allow the mind to be open and receptive to ideas and finally, feed your mind with only positive thoughts.
These practices will put you in a very calm state thus, bringing out the right manners you need for that interview. It’s good you also put on a comfortable, nice outfit. Some don’t know this: psychology has it that the clothes we put on, have effects on our confidence to an extent.
So next time you want to step out for an interview put on something professional yet, comfortable. You need all the emotional balance you can get so make do of this very tip.
The Eye Contact
The eyes are like the windows of the spirit and mind—the factor of connection between persons. If you have to nail the interview, you definitely need to connect with the interviewers and that’s where eye contact comes in.
Practicing good eye contact with your league of interviewers makes you connect with them on a deeper level thus, understanding what they really need from you as a prospective employee. It also helps to heighten your level of confidence.
When you practice good eye contact, your interviewers in turn will be receptive to your ideas—they communicate easily and fluently with you. Both parties will flow through a connection of uninterrupted current.
Ask Intense Questions
Remember: you are going for an interview, not an interrogative session. For that reason, you are at liberty to ask reasonable questions anytime during the interview process. If you ever feel like you need clarification on a particular subject matter, ask about it right away.
The panel of interviewers are not just there to bombard you with tons of questions, they are also there to answer your questions and defend the company as well. So, strike them as hard as possible, in a non threatening way.
You can ask them questions that is related to stuffs like, the working culture of the company, the connection between certain roles, how your own role could possibly interface with theirs, their vision of 5 years from the current date etc.
One way to go about this tip is by taking your time to make a profound research on the company and then, write down questions on a clean note.
Do not pass through the stress of fetching questions from your head; there’s no need for that. Instead, go with the note to the interview room and when it’s your turn to ask questions, refer to your note and start throwing it to them one after the other.
Besides, making them see that you love taking notes puts you in a better position than the rest; it makes you come off as a focused and serious minded person.
Finally, make sure the note you’re going with is properly organized, allowing you to access the question page(s) quickly. Don’t go there only to start rambling through pages back-and-forth, looking for questions. They will label you as unserious and disorganized.
Make Use Of Their Names
Mentioning people’s name when talking to them is one factor that helps to build rapport and of course you need to promote rapport in order to ace the interview.
This task can be somewhat difficult especially when you have about seven interviewers to deal with. However, with a little intel from your inner contact before the interview, you might be able to make a progress. You can also try some online snooping by connecting to them on LinkedIn so as to get clearer information about them.
If none of the above options is doable for you, wait for the interview process to begin, they are probably going to introduce themselves but if they don’t, simply ask them for their names. As they mention their names, quickly jot them respectively in your note.
That way, you can easily glance at it whenever you need to. The more you make use of them, the more you get acquainted with it.
You can use their names by associating it with your responses. For instance: “Nancy, that’s quite a nice question. And Mike, I suppose that’s your field of study, I’d honestly appreciate your view on this. Nevertheless, here’s my take…..”
Research has it that when you call out people by their names, you make them feel included thus, promoting rapport.
Prepare Your Handouts
Don’t attend a panel interview without enough copies of your resume. You don’t want 7 interviewers sharing just one or two copies of your resume; that’ll waste everyone’s time.
Instead, try as much as possible to find out how many interviewers you’ll be facing and then, go with the amount of copies that is sufficient enough to go round the interviewers.
What you are trying to avoid by doing this is confusion, in consequence of unpreparedness from the end of the panel of interviewers. If they don’t seem prepared usually because they don’t know anything about you, by handing over enough copies of your resume to them is a great way to alleviate the situation.
When you do that, you don’t only come off as prepared and organized but also as considerate. And one more thing: that’s seems like a boss move. In essence, you’re helping them to help you and that’s a good signal to send across to the panel of interviewers.
Know The Next Step
This is a compulsory move for all kinds of interviews. But when it comes to panel interview, you should inquire on the specific person to keep in touch with, to avoid being misinformed at the end.
Whether your point of contact is one or two persons, make sure you connect with them after the interview and get all the necessary information regarding the next step. Also, get their contact information and don’t forget to send them (your point of contact) follow up emails.
Practice With Friends
Only practice can tell you how well you’re prepared for the interview. And to practice, you don’t have to do it alone; you need a second party—friends.
So invite about four friends so they can function as the panel of interviewers. Get them acquainted with the role you’re applying for so they can get an insight on how to question you.
Make it explicit for them to avoid sentimental consideration and be rational with the duty you’ve asked them to perform. That way, you can get the actual gauge of your performance. Never skip this process. After all, it’s fun!
That’s it! On your next interview, bring all these tips onboard and witness how smooth everything will flow.
Remember: all the tips I’ve mentioned in this guide is built upon a singular foundation—profound knowledge of the company, meaning that without proper research on the company, you can’t have access to other tips.
Confidence only comes from being sure we have what it takes to face a particular situation. And when you don’t have the needed knowledge to face the interviewers, you won’t be able to build up confidence.
Whatever confidence you manage to build, that is not based on a realistic appraisal of who you truly are, is just mere grandiosity or pride. And you’ll inevitably disqualify yourself.