I discussed this in greater detail in the Star Tribune Ask Matt article titled: Succeeding in a panel interivew.
Great news: You landed a much sought-after interview for the job of your dreams. The hitch? It’s a panel interview and – truth be told – you’re scared out of your mind. Many employers today are going the route of the panel interview, particularly in the IT sector. Not only is it a time-saving measure, but it’s a good way to see how candidates interact with potential colleagues and handle high-pressure situations. If you’re a developer or programmer, for example, the panel may want to see how you write code. Panel interviews can involve anywhere from three to nine people, so it’s understandable that they can be daunting even for the most confident IT professionals. Robert Half Technology has developed the following guidelines to help job seekers navigate and sail through:
- Know who you’re meeting with. As with any interview, it’s important to do your homework beforehand and identify the names and titles of every person on the panel. Ask the hiring manager who you’ll be meeting with, and once armed with that information, go to the company website and LinkedIn to gain more insights on their background and roles within the company.
- Interact with each person on the panel. When you first enter the room, walk up to each panel member, introduce yourself and shake their hand. During your interview, make eye contact with each panelist as you speak. The goal is to develop a rapport with each person. Don’t ignore anyone – in fact, the quietest person in the room may be the ultimate decision-maker. ·
- Make sure your responses highlight your collaborative skills. Companies that conduct panel interviews likely place a high priority on teamwork, especially if they include employees at a variety of levels on their panels. Throughout the discussion, underscore projects and examples that demonstrate your success in a team setting.
- Customize your questions. When it’s time for your questions for the panel, you’ll obviously want to come prepared with a list drafted ahead of time. But your best chance of success happens when you think on your feet and tailor those questions. Relate them to specific topics discussed during the interview and direct to the appropriate panel member.
- Take your thank you note to a new level. It goes without saying that you should send a thank you note after an interview. In the panel interview, not only is it important to send a thank you to each panelist, but each note should be different and genuine. Use this as an opportunity to reiterate a connection made or showcase your listening skills during the interview.