Managing the Panel Interview
A panel interview is when you are interviewed by several people within the organization at the same time. Sometimes, you may know ahead of time that there will be a panel and other times, you may not know. So, it’s important to be prepared for how to handle this type of interview format.
Here are some tips that may help you through the process:
- Acknowledge (if possible) each member of the panel with eye contact and a handshake.
- Note each person’s name and position. If you have trouble doing this without writing, ask if you can take notes or get their business cards. Note taking can also help during the interview process by jotting down who asks which question and being able to write out the question to process your response to it. However, take notes sparingly as connecting with the interviewers is one of your most important tasks.
- Make eye contact with the individual asking the question. When you respond make sure that the person asking the question is the primary person that you may eye contact with, but also make eye contact with others on the panel.
- In cases where one person has asked the question, but others also add additional pieces to the question–make sure you note all features of the question and answer it fully–getting to every feature raised.
- If team dynamics appear, treat each person in the same manner as it may be a tactic to see your response. For example, in the “good cop v. bad cop” scenario — one interviewer may be acting nicer to you and the other giving you a hard time — remember they are working together and you want to respond to both of them in a cordial, engaging and responsive manner, but be sure to stand up for yourself respectfully.
- Engage even silent panelists through eye contact and delivering responses in their direction.
- If you know ahead of time that there will be a panel, create a question to ask each of them. If you don’t know, consider how you can tailor the questions that you have already developed or potentially develop new ones to pose to each of the panelists.
- At the end of the interview, try to get everyone’s business card so that you can send a unique thank you note to each of them on the panel. The note should not be the same for each of the panelists because there is a good chance that they will share the notes with each other.