Interviews are hard enough as it is but the thought of having to go through a panel interview can send anyone into a panic. With a pane interview you have 3 or more people asking questions, watching your every move, taking notes, and judging you! Who isn’t at least a bit intimidated with that.
The next time you have to go to a panel interview, remember these 5 tips and you’ll wow them all:
#1 Give Individual Attention to Each Panel Member
It’s important that you make each panel member feel that you think they are important. Make sure you pay attention to their names and their positions when they introduce themselves. Ask them if they have a business card handy – much faster than writing down their names. Shake each person’s hand, look them in the eye and don’t forget to smile. As you’re answering questions, look at panel members individually but don’t look at one person too long. Shift your attention from one person to the other. This will help you build rapport with each individual. When you make eye contact and smile, you appear to be more confident and more memorable.
#2 Figure Out Who You Need to Impress
There is usually at least one person that needs a little bit more convincing that you are the right person for the job. If you’ve made it to a panel interview, there is usually at least one or two people in the room that thought you were the right person to hire but someone else wasn’t sure. You need to find out who that one person (or two) is. That person will likely give away who they are by their body language – crossed arms, squinty eyes, lack of a smile, more serious look – they are there to really examine you. It might be tempting to avoid their gaze but don’t do this. This makes you look like you are not confident enough for the job. Instead, be sure to look them in the eye and be especially conscious of your body language when you answer questions. Not only will you come across as being more confident but you’ll appear to be a leader that is not afraid to tackle problems head on. Win over the stronger person in the group and the others are likely to fall in line, too.
#3 Don’t Panic if You Have to
It’s bound to happen when there are several people that are listening to your answers. One might want clarification or they might ask again to see if they get the same answer. Everyone has different listening styles so while your answer might have been clear to one member of the panel, another member might need to hear your say it in a different way. Each member may also have a different agenda, which affects the way they hear your answers. So, if you get asked a question twice or a question is repeated but in different words, don’t panic. It doesn’t mean you said anything wrong the first time. Just stay calm and be patient and answer the question.
#4 Be Ready for the Tough Question
The best way to give great answers to tough questions is by being prepared and the best way to be prepared for questions that you aren’t expecting is by have at least 3 great stories that you can choose from to answer these questions. When you are at an interview, story telling skills can take you a long way. The stories that you tell can usually be applied to different behavioral style questions that can be tough to answer. If there are particular questions that strike fear in you when you are asked them, prepare for them specifically and practice answering them. They will be less intimidating if you are confident in how you will answer them.
#5 Thank Each Panel Member Individually
Just as you greeted each panel member when you came in, thank them each one by one; shake their hand again, look them in the eye, and smile. If you didn’t get business cards at the beginning, ask for them now. Be ready to send thank you notes at the first opportunity. Some people like to keep thank you notes in the car so that they can write them and then take them back to the office so the receptionist can deliver them before the work day is out. You could also go to a nearby café to write out the notes.