Tips for Surviving Panel Interviews

By: Whitney

So you got an interview and you are pumped, then you find out that there is going to be multiple people interviewing you. What do you do? This can be a very intimidating atmosphere no matter where you are in your career. Interviewing can be kind of scary when it is just you and the interviewer, and now you find out that there is going to be more than one person!? You have come to the right place! This blog will give you some tips and suggestions on how to handle this stressful situation.

panel interview

When going into a paneled interview there are a few things that you should definitely keep in mind:

  1. Pay attention to each person’s name and title: By remembering everyone’s names you can then try to incorporate them in answering questions. You do not want to go overboard using names, but by using your interviewer’s names once or twice you can show them that you have attention to detail. You will also make everyone feel important, even if they aren’t the head honcho. By paying attention to what role they play in the company, you can determine whom you will likely be working with. This is VERY important because you might want to pay a little extra attention to them. They are the one that you want to make a really good impression on since they will likely have a big say on whether or not you are hired.
  2. Don’t focus too much on one person: As stated in the last point, if there is someone that you know you will be spending a lot of time with if hired you want to make sure that you make eye contact with them, but you do not want to ignore everyone else. It can often be kind of challenging to make sure that you are paying attention to everyone especially if it is a big group, but there are a couple of tricks that may help you. The first is that you should try to position yourself so that you can see as much of the group as possible because you want to look at everyone, but you do not want to look like your head is on a swivel. The next tip I can give is when answering a question try to focus most of your attention to the person who asked the question, but still look at other members of the panel occasionally to keep them engaged.
  3. Remember the little guy: You may think that the person who is of highest status is the one who you should be giving the most attention to, but this is not the case. In fact, this could be one of the biggest mistakes that you can make. While they are important, it is more important that you pay attention to everyone who is on the panel because there is a reason that they are there, even if they are not super high up in the company. Moral of the story, if one of the members of the groups feels like you ignored them through out the interview you probably will not be hired.
  4. Bring several copies of your resume: No matter what type of interview you are going to you want to make sure that you have at least one copy of your resume. This is so that if an employer doesn’t have a copy because they forgot to print it off or left it on their desk or some other random circumstance, you are prepared. The likelihood of this happening in a panel of people goes way up because there are more people who can forget. So by having copies on hand in case this happens is a good idea because it shows that you think ahead and come prepared.
  5. Get their business cards: At the end of your interview when you shake each member or the panel’s hand, it is a good idea to ask all of them for their business card. This way you can write each member of the panel an individual thank you card with out having to worry about spelling their names correctly or sending it to the wrong place.

I have had many group interviews for different positions or honors. Although the last interview was with eight people, if you do experience a panel interview you can expect about three to five people. It is important to do your research on a company before your interview, but if you follow these simple ground rules for a panel interview with your previous interview knowledge and skills, I am sure you will land that job you have always wanted!

Read Whitney’s other posts

Photo: Shutterstock

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About ellenhatfield

New professional in the field of Student Affairs in Higher Education. I am a Career Counselor at the University of MN Duluth.

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