Panel Interview Tips
Panel interview tips are vital as you prepare for this often popular interview format. While many people find this type of interview uncomfortable, it has some very positive attributes, such as giving you a broad paintbrush stroke of the company and its culture. There are several things you can do to ease into the interview and ensure it comes off as a positive experience.
Prepare for Your Interview
Being prepared is the first weapon in your arsenal of interview preparedness. It’s very important to go into your interview feeling confident. Several things go into creating this feeling and there are no shortcuts.
Nothing instills confidence better than looking your best. This means paying close attention to every detail. First impressions are vital in an interview. You will be judged on how you present yourself and that impression should be of a highly-polished professional.
- Attire: Invest in a nice, good-fitting outfit. Most panel interviews mean business suit attire. Don’t wear one that easily wrinkles or is out of style. Make sure your clothes are spotless, crisp and clean.
- Manicured fingernails: Women should go conservative on fingernail polish and fingernail manicure. Men should invest in a professional manicure.
- Brushed teeth and fresh breath: When talking with other people, you want to have good breath. If you opt for chewing gum as a breath freshener, be sure to toss it in the trash before entering the interview.
- Deodorant: Double-check that you’ve applied deodorant. It’s easy to forget normal grooming items when you’re nervous.
- Hair: Don’t try a new hairdo or color change. Men should get a regular haircut.
- Makeup: Less is more when it comes to an interview. A natural look is always preferred. Avoid heavy mascara, lip gloss or eye shadow.
- Shoes: You want unscuffed, polished classic shoes, no spike heels and no casual shoes.
- Scents: No matter how much you like a particular scent, refrain from wearing perfume or cologne. Some people are chemical sensitive. It’s best to wear unscented deodorants. In addition, an ex-boyfriend or ex-wife may have worn your favorite scent and the reminder could unconsciously influence a panel member. You simply never know, so the best choice is unscented toiletries and no perfume or cologne.
Know the Company
While you won’t be expected to know the panel members, you should know about the company. When setting up your interview, the recruiter will sometimes send you a packet via email or paper collateral about the company. If this isn’t mentioned, inquire if the recruiter has any information she can send to you. It’s acceptable to ask the recruiter is she has any suggestions for you as you prepare for the interview. You may simply be directed to the company website. Much depends on the level of the position you’re interviewing for. Even if you are sent a packet, it’s advisable to research beyond the standard info. The more you know about the company, the more confidence you’ll have going into your interview.
Review Typical Panel Questions
While you can’t anticipate many of the questions you’ll be asked during your panel interview, there are some typical interview questions you can use to prepare responses.
- Why do you want to work for ABC Company?
- What do you see as your role in this position?
- What can you contribute?
- What insights and experience qualify you for this position?
- What do you see as the biggest challenge you’ll face in this position?
- What is your opinion of teamwork environments?
Copies of Your Resume
While it’s up to the recruiter to provide the panel with your resume, things can happen. It never hurts to be over-prepared when going into a panel interview, so make extra copies of your resumes. If there is a shortage of resumes for the panel, your preparedness will definitely win you points.
Handshakes and Smiles
Nothing is worse than a weak handshake. Make sure yours is firm. Sweaty palms are undesirable. Take an ice cold bottle of water with you and clasp it between your hands. You can discard the bottle prior to entering the interview. This way your hands won’t be hot and sweaty when you shake hands with the panel members. Remember to look each person in the eyes and smile politely.
Answering Interview Questions
Tips for answering the panels’ interview questions include:
- Allow panel members to take the lead and ask the questions.
- Look at the person who asked the question. Be natural. When you conclude your answer, be sure to look at each member of the panel.
- Stay on track. Tangents are dangerous and you’ll quickly lose credibility if you get sidetracked. Focus on the questions and give specific answers.
- Relax and have a conversation. This isn’t an interrogation, even if it feels like one. Be as open and pleasant as you can.
- Be authentic in how you present yourself. Don’t oversell yet don’t undersell yourself. Give an accurate presentation of who you are and what you know. Relate your experiences to the questions and be concise with your responses.
Tips for Ending Your Panel Interview
The recruiter or the chairperson of the interview will also end the interview. Be sure to shake the hand of each panelist and thank each one. Express your gratitude for the opportunity to be considered for the position and your interest. Make sure you send a professional thank you note to the recruiter and each panelist. This has traditionally been a handwritten note, but it’s acceptable to send this via email. In fact, most professionals prefer email over paper. The final panel interview tip is the most difficult to accept – have patience. Don’t bug the recruiter with phone calls or emails. You will be notified as soon as the recruiter knows something. If you constantly bother a recruiter, and it is a bother to a busy recruiter, you can hurt your chances of getting the job. Remember, that every single thing you say and do is evaluated, especially once the interview is over.