A panel interview or committee interview is just what it sounds like— multiple individuals interview the candidate in a group. Companies commonly use this technique. Talking in front of an interview panel makes it easier for the decision-makers to reach a consensus on which candidate they would like to offer a job.
For this reason, you will often meet your potential bosses, as well as department supervisors and potential colleagues.
How to Handle a Panel Interview
In a panel interview, one person may ask all the questions, or each member of the panel may ask questions. It’s important to maintain eye contact with the individual asking the question and always acknowledging the other group members by making eye contact while answering rotating questions. Direct your attention at the beginning and end of your response to the person who asked you the question. The interview panel individuals will more than likely be a mixture of your supervisors, bosses, and co-workers.
Panel Interview Questions
The questions asked are often determined in advance by the interview panel. The panel interview committee may have already decided which answers they will accept or prefer for each of the questions. Or, they may score answers on a scale from 1–5 or 1–10. Be on your toes at this meeting; there are many observers asking questions. Try to identify the interview panel leader or the supervisor of the position for which you are applying.
Remain Cool and Calm
Think of the group as one person and try not to be intimidated. Ignore note-taking by the interviewers, and focus on explaining your skills and experience. Get the interviewers’ names at the beginning of the interview, and weave them into your answers. Make sure you write down all names and specifics when you leave the meeting; this will help you personalize the thank-you letters you will send after the interview.
How to Prepare
You should prepare for this type of interview like any other interview. Ensure that you research the company and job requirements beforehand; know your strengths and accomplishments and how they relate to the position. Put together a few questions to ask the interview panel, but don’t single anyone out, as this may make them feel uncomfortable.
Opportunities to Connect with Others
This type of interview will give you the chance to observe the individuals that could become your supervisors or peers. By communicating with and observing possible supervisors and co-workers, you will have the chance to decide whether or not you would like to work with them. Remember that an interview is not entirely one-sided. You are there to decide whether you want to work there as well.
A panel interview does not have to be all that different from a regular interview. Prepare for it the way you would a regular, one-on-one interview, try not to focus on how many people are interviewing you, and engage all members of the panel. If you follow these tips, you’re sure to be successful in your next panel interview.
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