As if you weren’t already stressed enough about the interview, now you realize it’s 3 against one. There’s strength in numbers, and the numbers are on their side. Don’t freak out, with a few careful moves you can leverage a panel interview to your competitive advantage.
First, relax. They’re not doing this to intimidate you. Most likely, the many-to-one approach offers the employer efficiency and an ability to immediately calibrate their impressions.
5 Secrets to a Successful Panel Interview
1. Get the Lay of the Land
It’s perfectly kosher to ask what format to expect from the interview. Be upbeat and friendly while asking, “Will it just be you, or will others be participating?” I’ve seen too many candidates lose their composure when they walked in to an unanticipated panel. It’s better to know what you’re up against so you can prepare well.
2. Do Your Homework
If possible find out names and titles of the interviewers on the panel, and check them out on LinkedIn before you go. Be careful not to get too creepy (e.g. don’t look up their children’s little league stats), but a little preparation can go a long way in helping grease the skids to powerful connection. Develop targeted questions that you could ask each panel member based on their area of expertise.
3. Facilitate Conversation
One of the reasons for a panel interview is to see how you operate in a group setting. Answer the questions, but also look for opportunities to link together conversation and comments. This shows you are an active listener and can help steer a conversation.
4. Engage Each Panel Member
Start by making good eye contact with the interviewer asking the question. Resist the urge to dart your eyes quickly from person to person, but do engage others throughout the interview. I’ve seen candidates focus all their attention on the person they think “matters.” Everyone matters or they would not be in the room.
Ask relevant questions of each person. Make each person feel valued and actively listen to their responses.
5. Thank Each Person
As you leave, shake each interviewer’s hand and sincerely thank them for their time. Then as soon as possible, send a follow-up thank you email or hand written note thanking each person again.
Other Career Tips (Free Downloadable Guide)
Every week I have people emailing me for career advice on resumes, interviewing, networking etc. To make it easier for those searching for a new job or making a career move, I’ve put the links to my practical career posts into a word document you can download for free, just click here career advice. Feel free to share with others as well.
Here are some other links to useful articles as well.