Panel interviews otherwise known as search committees, can sometimes be an overwhelming experience if you have not prepared correctly for the event. There can be anywhere from 2 to 10 people interviewing you or really any number that the company feels is relevant and necessary to hire for that particular position. The average number is around 4 or 5 team members who will together review the resume and application documents, conduct the interviews, and then cumulatively make the final decision. Following a few simple steps can prepare you for being interviewed by more than one person, different employment levels of staff (i.e. Management to support staff), and varying personality types.
- Don’t assume that person doing all of the initial introductions and opening statement is the “leader” or in essence the manager who will truly make the final decision. Until all of the introductions are made, ensure that you attempt to give equal attention to all parties in the room.
- Casually jot down the names of all of the panel members. The speaker should formally introduce all of the panel members in the room and indicate what their interest is in the position or provide their title. This is where you need to be very perceptive. Remembering the names of the panel members and using it in your response to their questions always scores big points and showcases your ability to memorize and be efficient on the spot.
- Look at each of the panel members when answering their questions. Most of the time each panel member will have the opportunity to ask a question or two in relation to the position. However, sometimes it may be just one person asking all of the questions while the other committee members write down your responses and their observations to review later. Either way, make sure you include everyone in your responses as much as possible by looking at each member for a few moments.
- Be prepared with your answers and accomplishments as it directly relates to the position. Trying to come up with answers “on the spot” in front of a room full of people would be stressful for even the most seasoned public speaker. This is why it is vital to write down and practice possible responses to questions that they committee may have in relation to the position. We have all heard the question, “Tell us about a problem that you have encountered in a previous position and how you resolved the issue.” In addition, committees tend to use psychological questions such as “How many times would you say that you have been very angry at work?” Be cautious in answering “trick” questions like this and ALWAYS keep your answers positive and respond with something like, “I always evaluate a challenge and determine ways to resolve the issue so that we can move forward as a team and/or department.”
Remember that even if you are interviewing in front of 2 people or 10, you must be prepared, calm, and professional at all times.
Follow these tips and be prepared for a panel interview.