Have you recently received a request for a group or panel interview? While you may be ecstatic to have made it this far in the hiring process, the prospect of facing not one but an entire team of interviewers can make you really confused.
Most companies conduct panel-style interviews not to terrify you but to save time. You’ll be meeting with people who will be communicating with you in your new job. Getting their impressions all at once is time-saving and effective. So, when you walk into a panel or group interview, remember that the team is there to learn about you and your value-add, not to probe you or make you feel uncomfortable.
These five tactics can help you feel more in control of the interview process while presenting a professional, passionate manner that will help you land the job.
Determine who you’ll have to impress the most in a panel interview
Most panel interviews immediately reveal who’s on “your side” and who hasn’t made up their mind. So while it’s tempting to direct your answers and stare toward the interviewer who appears to be more receptive to your comments, you’re better off confronting the skeptic first. Why? Because winning over the individual most likely to reject you demonstrates your skill to assess people and solve problems on spot.
Most IT staffing companies want leaders who will confront difficulties head-on, ask many questions, and focus first on the most challenging topics. You’ll come across as a calm professional ready to take on the work duties if you respond positively to someone who throws challenges your way.
In addition, after the interview, most panel interviewers meet to discuss the candidate and their opinions. If you’ve won over the group’s most challenging member, the others may rally behind them as well.
You should expect to repeat yourself
While one of your interviewers may accept your response the first time, you can nearly guarantee that someone else will either ask for clarification—or ask the same question later in the interview. Why? Because many of us have varying listening styles, just like we have different verbal abilities.
What is evident to one panelist may require additional explanation to another. Furthermore, each panelist has a different goal for the interview. For example, when doing technical hiring, a prospective peer might be more interested in your technical or analytical abilities, but your boss might be more interested in why your prior employment was so brief.
It’s also possible that you’ll find yourself repeating facts from previous interviews. This is common in the context of a multi-interview hiring process, so don’t come across as impatient or mention that you’ve already answered this question.
Pay close attention to each member of the panel
When you first start the interview, get each person’s name (ask for their business card or scribble it down), and then introduce yourself to them. This will assist you in connecting with all of your interview panelists and break the ice.
Avoid looking at a single individual when fielding inquiries (nothing makes you look more “frozen” than doing so!). Instead, make it a point to relax, smile, and look at the other people in the room. Even if only one person in the group asks you a question, look around at the others as you respond. It will help you project a confident image and establish a connection with the entire panel.
Be prepared for the Zinger interview questions in a panel interview
Interviewers, like everyone else, feel more at ease in a group setting. As a result, you can expect to be asked a question that you wouldn’t get in a one-on-one interview. A great way to prepare for the interview is to prepare three to five “powerful stories” that demonstrate your ability to do the job.
With these examples at hand, you’ll be able to answer any question that comes your way. If you feel uncomfortable discussing a subject or situation, plan and practice a set of responses before your panel interview!
This way, when the question eventually comes up, you won’t be as nervous, and you’ll be more prepared to face any curveballs thrown your way.
Thank all participants
Thank everyone individually at the end of the panel interview, and collect business cards if you haven’t already. Then, as you’re sitting in your car after the panel interview, jot down key points to add in your thank you cards, which should be sent within 24 hours of the panel interview’s completion.
You’ll benefit from having the interview fresh in your mind, and you’ll be rewarded for your punctuality and professional respect.
A panel interview is nothing to be afraid of, mainly because it gives you an opportunity to meet your potential new coworkers and superiors. Regardless of how the interview goes, you can benefit from the experience. So, the next time you want to find tech jobs, you’ll already have a sense of how to survive and deal with the challenges of a panel interview.
You’ll be on your way to a job offer if you have a stack of success stories, answers to challenging questions, thank you notes, and a grin.
Because there are so many individuals in a panel interview, it’s critical that you take advantage of the opportunity to ask all of your questions. It allows you to ask questions that you might not have been able to ask in a different interview.
Having questions prepared for the interview just tells the interviewers that you’re serious about the job and that you came prepared to learn more about the role.
If you follow these steps, you’ll have the confidence and knowledge you need to succeed in the interview and get the job you’ve been longing for so hard!