5 ways to succeed in a panel interview

Panel interviews evoke a mixed response from the majority of candidates. You’re happy because you’ve made it passed the application stage but now you’re terrified at the thought of so many faces in front of you. However, the reason companies conduct interviews in this format isn’t to intimidate you but to ensure you meet all the right people.  When you stroll into that room remember that these people aren’t there to catch you out. They are there however to extract information. So let’s help you prepare, here’s 5 ways to succeed in a panel interview:

1. Direct your attention to each person on the panel.

Before you start talking get everyone’s names. While you might be distracted in the initial seconds, it’s crucial to listen very carefully to everyone’s introduction. Don’t fall into the trap of finding one friendly face and directing all of your conversation at them. Look around the room and express your confidence to all.

2. Identify the tough cookie.

This follows nicely from point one. While you might want to speak directly to the interviewer who’s smiling at you with a warm gaze you also have to soften the tough cookies. Address the tough nut first, the person who seems the most skeptical. Articulate your answers and ensure you’re meeting everyone’s gaze especially the person who appears to be the most dubious. This method will at the very least showcase your ability to work a room (a good characteristic for any candidate in any role) and will hopefully help you to win them over.

3.Expect to repeat yourself.

While one of your interviewers might accept your answer of the cuff the first time around, others may feel the need to clarify. Everyone sitting in front of you has a different listening style. Additionally, all the interviewers have a different set of priorities. A question from one of your interviewers may be irrelevant to another, hence you may be required to turn your answers around and inside out to make them appealing to a multitude of agendas.

4.Prepare yourself for at least one very difficult question.

We all hate those sticky tricky questions but knowledge is power. Do your research and try to prepare yourself for that zinger question. While you might not anticipate the exact question you will be asked, the research for your prep could help you out of a bad situation. Remember that every candidate who follows you will also be asked a precarious question, so worry less and prep more.

5. Thank everyone appropriately.

At the conclusion of your panel interview, thank everyone personally and gather business cards if they have been offered. Following the day of your interview, send a relevant thank you email to the people who conducted it. This will help to leave a lasting impression and will showcase your invaluable courteous side.

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