A panel interview is a different type of evaluation to test a candidates’ body language, confidence, and his or her grasp on the core subjects. Unlike a regular interview, a panel interview consists of more than one interviewer often forming a panel.
A candidate has to answer the questions raised by the panel consisting of your HR manager and his two to three subordinates often experts in the field for which you are giving an interview. Acing a panel interview requires thorough preparation and a good knowledge of one’s core profile along with an optimum level of confidence.
Ways to Handle Panel Interview
1) Greet Every Member Of The Panel
As soon as you enter your interview room you must greet each and every member of your panel with Good Morning or Good Afternoon as the case may be. This shows that you respect your seniors and are aware of ethics and morals. A rude or disregarding interviewee is not liked by anyone and this can spoil your chances of selection even before starting it.
2) Give Mock Interviews
Practice makes a man perfect. A panel interview can be tricky at times and involves more judgmental and perception skills as compared to the normal interview. With a complete chain of 3-4 interviewers sitting in front of you, candidates tend to get nervous and start losing their calm and composure. This leads to a lower confidence level which in turn reduces the quality of your replies.
Hence, it is always advisable to get used to the panel interview process beforehand by appearing in several mock interviews. This will make you understand the procedure or modus operandi and would immensely help you to control your emotions and thereby you will be in a better position to handle stress and maintain your confidence level.
3) Dress Properly
A proper business suit with a suitable matching tie gives you a professional and executive look. The way you present yourself matters a lot in a panel interview. A candidate who is not neatly dressed and wore unprofessional clothes would give an impression that either one is not serious about the job or one possess a low opinion about oneself.
4) Maintain A Regular Eye Contact
It is of utmost importance during a panel interview that the candidate maintains confidence and regular eye contact with the interviewer asking questions. You must not try to save your eyes or just look at the walls or the window.
It is a common mistake of the candidates to not maintain eye contact, particularly for questions they are not aware of. But, maintaining proper eye contact at all times is necessary to show that you are thoroughly prepared and confident enough to tackle this situation.
5) Body Language Matters
It is completely fine to be nervous during an interview process. Interviewers understand that. But, they expect you to control your anxiety and nervousness. The constant tapping of feet, shaky hands, and a sweaty candidate is not admired by them and such body language shows that you are unable to handle stress and pressure situations, thereby reducing your selection chances.
6) Research The Background of Panel Interviewers
Be it through the website of the company or after an inquiry from your hiring manager, it is of utmost importance to properly research the background of panel interviewers. This way you will be able to give the right direction to your preparation and therefore improved efficiency. Let’s understand this through a case study mentioned below:
Suppose, you are going for a panel interview for the post of Senior Accountant. After careful research, you found out that, the panel consists of members from Technical background too. Then you must be prepared for a few technical questions from popular accounting software.
7) Prepare A List Of Expected Questions
The best way to ace a panel interview is to prepare a list of expected questions related to your core profile. It has been observed that a 90% of the questions move in and around your core profile. Hence, take a piece of paper and start writing popular questions related to your field and the job you have applied for. Now prepare answers for these questions which are crisp and accurate. Taking the help of popular books and the internet is advisable.
8) Resume For Every One
Since every member of your interview panel will ask questions from you, hence it is recommended that you bring 5-6 copies of your resume and give one copy each to every interviewer so that are able to assess your educational qualifications, work experience, and skills without any problem and frustration.
9) Prepare A List Of Questions For Your Interviewers
At the end of every interview process, you will be asked a question, ‘Do you have any questions for us?’ Leaving this question un-answered would imply that you are not a serious candidate and were not completely engaged during the interview process. Hence, it is always advisable to prepare a few questions for your panel of interviewers.
You may prepare 2-3 questions on the following topics as per your wisdom:
- The work culture of the organization
- Incentives offered
- Terms and conditions of the employment
- Insurances provided by the company
- Leave policy etc
10) Use The Technique Of Visualization
Visualization is a technique followed by sportspersons, celebrities, and every other individual who has to perform in front of a big audience. Through this technique, they have made their nerves similar to that of steel and are always able to maintain their temper. We recommend you use the visualization technique in order to train your mind for the future situations by creating a virtual setting in your imagination. You can visualize in the following sequence:
- Imagine an interview room
- Think of the panel of interviewers
- Imagine yourself greeting them
- Visualize that they are asking questions from your core profile and you are giving each and every answer confidently
- Imagine that you are maintaining regular eye contact and you are completely focused
- Imagine yourself getting out of the interview room, smiling and in a relaxed state.
11) Maintain Concentration and Focus
No matter how much you prepare expected questions or visualize, if you are unable to maintain focus and an optimum level of concentration during your interview, you are in an unfavorable position. Although, it won’t be wrong to say, that facing so many strangers in a closed room, ready to shoot their tough questions at you, will make you unnerved and unsettled. But, that’s what they want to evaluate. They want to see how much can you concentrate on the solution rather than problems. Hence, we advise you to improve your concentration levels that will come really handy during such a process.
12) Practice Deep Breathing
Deep breathing, meditation, and positive self-talk are some of the proven and best methods in order to relieve stress and nervousness. A panel interview is a test of your core skills as well as your level of confidence which can be battered by stress and anxiety. Hence, it is necessary to control them and give confident replies.
13) Carefully Analyze The Job Description
Employers usually issue a job description that consists of sought-after skills and the duties to be performed by the candidates. It is highly likely, that you would be asked questions related to the mentioned skills and duties. Hence, one must prepare for them thoroughly by presuming a few questions based on them. Practice the model replies a few times, and that would be enough to ace your panel interview.
14) Don’t Say Any Abrupt Salary Figure
It is a common practice of the interviewers to inquire about the salary expectations of the candidates. Saying any random figure abruptly will give an impression of greediness and an unprepared candidate thereby ruining your chances of nailing the interview. Hence, one must analyze the latest market trend persisting in a similar industry for a similar role. Now, give a variation of 10% (both plus and minus) after considering your proven work experience and quote this figure when specifically asked about your salary expectations.
15) At The End Make A handshake With Every Member Of The Panel
As a part of good morals and following the principles of good ethics, one must greet and do a handshake with every member of the panel. You can reply in the following way:
Thanks, panel. It was an honor to represent myself in front of you and put on display my skills and abilities. I thoroughly enjoyed my entire interview process and feel privileged. Thanks again for a wonderful evening.
Facing a panel interview has its own set of challenges and obstacles. In front of so many strangers, one is bound to feel nervous and flustered. With proper preparation, hard work, and grit, one can nail a panel interview and secure his or her dream job thereby shaping one’s career in a positive way. The tips mentioned above are designed after a lot of research and would help you immensely.
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