THOUGHT PIECE the carling team

How To Prepare For Panel Job Interview

Getting to interview (and beyond) is every candidate’s main objective when they’re searching for a new job; but dealing with interviews can be stressful. There are various types of interview being used today; from phone interview to panel interview and one of the most stressful is panel, which is why we’ve decided to put this blog post together.

If you have a panel interview coming up, here are our Top Tips for preparation and presentation.

  1. Know your stuff. Any job interview is nerve-wracking, but a panel interview calls for you to be really on your toes. The panel will most probably have been selected on the basis that they’re different, so you can expect a range of different question subjects and styles. While you mightn’t be able to prepare for absolutely every question you could be asked, it’s important to know as much as you can about the organisation, the vacancy and what the employer is looking for. You should also be able to put your micro knowledge about the company and the vacancy into a macro, or market context and give intelligent and insightful responses relating to opportunities and threats.
  2. Know your interviewers. Do what you can to find out who will interview you and what position they hold in the company. Your recruitment agency should be able to help here. Once you have the names, check them out on the company website and LinkedIn to find out all you can about them. Everyone will have their own agenda and make it your priority to anticipate what each one is likely to be wanting from you.
  3. Practice makes perfect. Practice your interview words and body language in front of a mirror, making sure that you reduce or remove as much as possible any distracting or annoying habits such as hand wringing or playing with watches or jewellery. Make sure your body language gives off an open and approachable image i.e. avoid crossing your arms or turning your shoulder in the direction of any panel member.
  4. Look the part. It goes without saying, but it’s essential that you look the part for any interview. Try to make a statement without being shocking. Being neutral without being boring is a safe bet. For women, avoiding heels that might cause you a problem and too much make up is rarely a good idea.
  5. Arrive on time and with time to spare. Don’t put yourself under extra pressure by arriving with only seconds to spare. Give yourself a good margin of error regarding time so you have time to collect your thoughts and calm yourself before you’re called into the room.
  6. Make an entrance. It’s important when you enter the room that you make at least eye contact with everyone on the panel. This is the time to look confident but not too confident. Remember to make an effort to relax and give a natural smile that goes right up to your eyes.
  7. Listen carefully and think. One of the most common mistakes interviewees make is to jump in with a response before reflecting on the question. Nerves do strange things to our behavior, but particularly in a panel setting, it’s important to listen carefully, ask if anything isn’t clear and prepare your response before saying a word.
  8. Present professionally. No matter how nervous a public speaker you are, a panel interview is not the time to hide your light under a bushel. Sit comfortably and confidently in your chair, speak to every member of the panel and use your hands to reinforce your words. When you are asked a question by one panel member, start the response by engaging with only that person and reach out the response to the others by giving examples about how that response might impact on their area of the business. Sum up clearly.
  9. Ask questions. In most panel interviews you’ll get the chance to ask questions. This is something you can prepare for in advance and it’s always impressive to have an insightful question up your sleeve so you can leave a good impression.
  10. Don’t forget to say thank you. Don’t forget to thank the panel for inviting you for interview and if you feel it’s appropriate, follow up your verbal thank you with an email later in the day.

Finally, enjoy yourself! A panel interview is your chance to really sell yourself to a potential employer and you’ll do that better if you’re able to stay calm and enjoy yourself.