6 Expert Tips to Help You Prepare for the Panel Job Interview

Group interviewWhen you think of a job interview you most often think of a discussion between you and a recruiter or hiring manager, one-on-one. Some companies, however, use group, or “panel” interviews to screen candidates.

If you can get past the intimidation factor, and if you’re prepared, panel interviews can work in your favor.

Think about it this way: Employers want to see how well you perform with others under pressure. And this setup allow you to impress everyone at the same time, rather than having to convince each person individually in multiple rounds.

Plus, with many of your potential colleagues in the same room, it’s a better way to see what it would really be like to work there.

“Based on our 25+ years of hiring, managing, and consulting experience, we have found that organizations that use a team approach to interviewing and candidate selection tend to make much smarter hiring decisions than when decisions are made by individual managers based on one-on-one interviews,” according to a white paper by Gendreau Group, a revenue consulting firm.

So, how do you use panel interviews to your advantage without sweating bullets?

We spoke with hiring managers who prefer the panel format and picked their brain about why they love this style of interviewing and what they’re hoping to see in a great candidate:

  • “In most one-on-one interviews, [interviewers are] often thinking about what you’re going to ask next, rather than listening to the candidate’s answer,” says Lou Adler of The Adler Group, a performance-based hiring company in a blog post personally written by him.
  • “I like to do one interview with the candidate and four current employees (me, their product manager, and two teammates) to see how well they handle interacting with multiple people at once,” says Matt Miller, CTO of CyberCoders and co-founder of CareerBliss. “In our environment that is important.”
  • It’s crucial to be yourself. Personality is a key ingredient to maintaining the team dynamic in our office,” says Jesse Pelayo, project manager at CyberCoders. “Of course, we measure competency (of which I leave to the engineering team), but I find competency has a threshold but it can always be improved through mentorship, group collaboration and personal learning.”

So, even if you don’t fully have high mastery of the tech skills, having great communication with the team and showing them how your values align can help you come out ahead of your competition.

To help ensure that you highlight your awesome team building skills, keep in mind these 6 tips to help you prepare for your next panel interview:

1. Aim to Build Rapport 

It’s harder with multiple people, but more important than ever, to build rapport in the room. Ask each person a unique question. If they’re doing all the talking, that’s not a good sign!

2. Taking Notes Is Important, But Do It Sparingly

Rather than keeping your head down, pick and choose the most pertinent notes to write down. Make eye contact with everyone for a full thought. “In the panel interviews I’ve witnessed, the candidate often sits in silence while the panelists furiously take notes,” says Caroline Mclure, principal of consulting service ScoutRock to TLNT.com.

3. Mention an Interviewer’s Previous Point

Refer to a point someone else made earlier to prove you’re a great listener and give credit where it’s due. These are two key skills required of a great team player.

4. Practice Ahead of Time with a Mock Panel

It’s a little more stressful having so many people to answer to, but that’s exactly the point.

“If the candidate avoids or evades either question, then it shows me a nervousness and insecurity that would give a glimpse as to how they handle stressful situations (e.g. interviews),” Pelayo says. So, practice with friends and family beforehand!

5. Organization is Key

Keep everyone’s names straight, and stay organized about who does what. Researching everyone beforehand is pivotal for this. LinkedIn is your best friend!

6. Follow up with Each Person Individually

It’s a lot more personal and memorable than a mass email. Be sure to mention something in particular that the individual said in the interview… an important point they made, for example… to further individualize your email.





For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at CareerBliss!



RitikaAbout the Author: Ritika Trikha is passionate about scoping out top-notch job advice in the career-sphere to help you find a job you love. Ritika has 99 problems but an unhappy career isn’t one! She’s a writer and an optimist (and Jay Z’s No. 1 fan). When Ritika’s not writing stellar advice articles, she’s obsessing over social media. Connect with her via CareerBliss Tumblr, Pinterest and Google+! And follow Ritika on Twitter!


Image courtesy of blog.lib.umn.edu… thank you!



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