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What To Expect In A Panel Interview

Upcoming panel interview? Here’s what to expect…

A panel interview seems like a daunting prospect for lots of job seekers. You’re faced with not one interviewer but 2,3,4,5… or even more! So trying to win them ALL over can be a tricky task.

So, what exactly is a panel interview?

A formal job interview where more than one person will be interviewing the prospective employee. Sounds obvious right! But as a candidate it’s important to be aware each interviewer will have a different perspective on the answers you provide. Therefore, you’ll need to be ready to back-up what you have to say and be open to criticism.

Why a panel interview?

Employers tend to favour a panel interview when they want to gain more than one opinion. Panels allow for a second opinion. Giving the interviewers time to configure and decide upon a mutual hiring decision.

Some employers also choose this type of interview to see how well a candidate can deal with pressure. And what adds more pressure to a job seeker than multiple questions from different interviewers they want to impress!?

Who will be there?

Often this will consist of the hiring manager, your potential manager and other senior members of the organisation. As well as employees from different divisions within the company who you may be working alongside.

Look at the initial email invitation, to find out exactly who will be interviewing you. Often this will state the names of the people you will be expected to meet so make a note of this. A little research beforehand can ensure you know everything about their professional selves.

How long will it last?

Times can vary. We estimate anywhere between 30 minutes to 2 hours. But most probably it will last longer than the standard one on one interview. More people means more questions!

How to prepare for the interview

Know your stuff

As a panel interview can feel a little more intense, it’s paramount you’re completely prepared. Brush up on your industry knowledge, experience and the impact this will have on the role.

It’s also important to understand how your own personal skills and abilities will attribute towards the position. If you can provide evidence of results in the form of stats and numbers this is also a big bonus. Something which more senior interviewers may really appreciate.

Presentation

Be prepared for a presentation. Most likely the hiring manager will have already informed you before the interview if they expect some sort of presentation. Its very rare this will be sprung upon you with no given warning.

Research the topic, make sure it’s something you’re interested in and have a well-rounded knowledge of. Create an aesthetically pleasing presentation (i.e. no large chunks of text on a standard Microsoft PowerPoint template) and write cue cards. What you don’t want to be doing is reading word for word from the screen. Not only will this bore the interviewers to sleep, but they also won’t think much of your communication skills!

What questions to expect:

How To Answer: “What Do You Know About This Company?”

How To Answer: “Do You Work Better in a Team or Independently?”

How To Answer: “What Can You Do For Us That Other Candidates Can’t?”

How To Answer: “How Do You Manage Your Time & Prioritise Your Tasks?”

How To Answer “Describe Your First 30 Days In The Role”

How To Answer “What Has Been Your Greatest Challenge In Your Career So Far?”

What to do on the day

Notes

Read up on your notes before the interview! Utilise your spare time to keep your research and potential answers fresh in your mind by reading them prior to the interview.

Eye contact

Engage in eye contact with everyone on the interview panel. A mistake you could be making in a panel interview is singling out one person. This will not only make them feel a tad bit uncomfortable… but also discludes all other interviewers!

Find out more about them

At the end of the interview, use the ‘“So, do you have any questions?” as a chance to gain an insight into the panels different roles and departments. Inquire about how their position would intertwine with your potential role and how the various teams within the company work together.

Show off your communication skills

A panel interview is a great opportunity to really show off your communication skills. You will need to acknowledge each person asking you the questions but be able to communicate your answers to the whole room, not just one individual.

In addition to having expert communication skills, its necessary you have strong listening capabilities. Interrupting questions and not letting the interviewer speak can be perceived as unprofessional and quite simply just rude! So avoid this at all costs and aim for a conversational panel interview.

That’s it! There are all of our tips on how to tackle the often ‘dreaded’ panel interview. Do you have any questions? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @BubbleJobs.

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