How to Succeed in a Panel Interview: Tips and Examples
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published 12 June 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Besides your cover letter and resume, a job interview helps a potential employer assess your strengths as a candidate. Although many interviews involve one-on-one conversations with the hiring manager, interview panels – where you talk with several hiring team members at once – are becoming more common. These multifaceted conversations can be more challenging than traditional interviews and often require additional preparation. In this article, we provide tips to help you succeed in a panel interview, and we discuss popular questions asked by interview panels and provide example answers.
What are interview panels?
Interview panels consist of two or more members of a hiring team. The panel might include your prospective supervisor, an HR representative, and other executive staff members. During a panel interview, each member may ask you questions about your experience, qualifications and career goals. Interview panels reduce the risk of hiring the wrong person for a specific role, as the panel's goal is to make the best hiring decision based on the position and prospective candidates.
Why do hiring teams use interview panels?
Here are a few common reasons hiring teams request interview panels:
Many companies require prospective employees to meet with several important decision-makers during the hiring process. Scheduling a panel interview instead of a series of individual interviews makes the hiring process more efficient and convenient for everyone.
Interview panels require more adaptability and quick thinking than traditional one-on-one interviews, so they help a hiring team assess how you would handle high-stress situations and substantial challenges in the workplace.
Interview panels instantly create a group dynamic, which can show a hiring team whether you have the required teamwork and collaborative skills.
How to succeed in a panel interview with a potential employer
Interview panels can seem intimidating, but knowing what to expect and preparing in advance can boost your confidence. Here are some helpful panel interview tips to help you succeed:
1. Research and remember the panel members
When preparing for interview panels, take the time to research both the company and the individual panel members. Because they each come from a unique background or department, each panelist will consider your resume and examine your responses differently. Learn their names and job titles, and try to remember key details like their major accomplishments or important initiatives they've introduced to this specific workplace.
If the company doesn't supply details on the interviewers, you can politely ask for a list of panel members, along with their job titles. During the interview, ensure you address each panel member by their name to show your initiative and enthusiasm for the role.
2. Bring enough materials for the entire panel
When you arrive for your panel interview, ensure you have enough materials to distribute to each member of the hiring team. It's always beneficial to bring more business cards and copies of your resume than necessary.
3. Engage equally with every interviewer
In a panel interview, strive to engage equally with each individual interviewer, so you can build rapport with everyone and not just the most outgoing panel member. Presume every member of the hiring team has equal importance and input in the final decision. As you form a conversational and collaborative environment in the panel interview, you can then communicate your teamwork skills effectively. Ensure you make eye contact when you speak with each interviewer and aim to direct your attention to every panel member when answering general interview questions.
4. Take a conversational approach
To ensure the panel interview is more than a conventional question-and-answer scenario, transform the meeting into a conversation. To do this, refer to earlier exchanges during your interview to show you have been listening actively and processing what the interview panelists have said. Next, focus on non-verbal cues by turning to face each panel member when you speak to them.
5. Prepare in advance for follow-up questions
Because they include two or more decision-makers, panel interviews are typically more fast-paced and involve more extensive questions compared to traditional one-on-one interviews. You can expect one panel member to ask a follow-up question after you've answered a query from another. To prepare, have several examples of your qualifications, experiences and accomplishments to share each time an interviewer asks a more involved question.
6. Ask your own questions
Besides responding to inquiries from the interview panel, ask the hiring team members some questions to show your interest. Prepare in advance by brainstorming questions when you research the company and individual panelists prior to the meeting. Use this knowledge in the interview to enquire about projects or initiatives unique to each panel member.
7. Stay calm
It's natural to feel intimidated by interview panels. But ensure you don't rush your answers, as a panel interview shows hiring teams how prospective employees will react in a high-pressure environment. Instead, take a deep breath, collect your thoughts and remain calm during the panel interview, especially if the panelists ask a series of rapid-fire questions.
8. Thank each panelist at the end of the interview
At the end of a panel interview, ensure you maintain eye contact and shake the hand of each individual panelist before leaving. This ensures you leave them with a positive last impression before they make their decision.
Example questions and answers commonly asked by interview panels
During panel interviews, members typically ask a combination of behavioural and situational interview questions, as well as questions about your personality and career goals. Here are some common panel interview questions, with example answers to help you prepare:
Tell us about yourself
This is one of the most popular panel interview questions, and your answer should highlight how your skills and experience make you the ideal person for the role. When you answer, begin with an overview of your current career status, before explaining your professional beginnings and future career ambitions.
Example: I've worked with my current company for three years and earned a promotion to supervisor last year. Beforehand, I earned a Bachelor's Degree at The University of Sydney and a Diploma of Business from TAFE. I intend to use my ambition and experience to fulfil my goal of becoming an executive for a mission-driven organisation.
Why should we hire you?
Interview panels often ask this question to differentiate you from other candidates. In your response, explain what makes you a unique applicant and how you stand apart from the competition. Begin with background details and previous accomplishments that relate to the specific role, before highlighting a single aspect that makes you the best person for the job.
Example: My high-level problem-solving and critical thinking skills are ideal for this role, and my leadership experience has prepared me for this advanced position. The accounting industry award I won last month also shows my dedication to workplace success.
Tell us an instance when you collaborated with another department on a project
Interview panels often ask this question to assess your teamwork skills and ability to collaborate with colleagues. In your answer, provide a specific example that illustrates your teamwork capabilities and includes a challenge you faced and the successful outcome achieved.
Example: Recently, I led a project that required me to work closely with the marketing department manager. I faced the challenge of creating a schedule, assigning roles, following up with colleagues and adjusting our plan following constructive feedback from upper management. Ultimately, I concluded the project by generating 15% greater revenue than projected.
How would a colleague describe you?
This panel interview question gives you the chance to show your ability to create good working relationships with your colleagues. Ensure your answer is honest and highlights your strengths.
Example: I strive to show my appreciation for those on my team to boost office morale, so my colleagues would say I value their talents and provide a positive work environment.
Do you have questions for us?
This question allows you to show your level of interest in the position and your prior research of the company. Use the questions you prepared in advance or enquire about a topic mentioned earlier in the panel interview.
Example: Can you tell me the next steps you and your department plan to take after completing the major market research project last month? I understand the previous person in this role collaborated on the project, so I'm interested to learn more about how I might contribute further.
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