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How to Outperform in a Panel Interview Without Breaking a Sweat
Job interviews are often daunting. The idea of having to sell yourself, your skills and experience and your personality to another person through a series of questions and answers, is not easy. But they aren’t supposed to be easy. The point of an interview is for an organization to try and find out if you would be a good fit for the role you are interviewing for, and for the company as a whole, and they only have a limited amount of time to try and find out this information.
Panel interviews can be even more intimidating, because instead of being interviewed one to one, you are being interviewed by two or more people. Organizations are using panel interviews more often now because they save time and they put even more pressure on the candidate. Although panel interviews are never going to be easy and not nerve-wracking, they are often not as bad as you think. In fact, a panel interview could mean that you will only be interviewed once, rather than being interviewed separately by each person on the panel.
Here are some tips that will make a panel interview easier so you can ease some pressure, be more confident and be able to show the interviewers exactly why you would be perfect for the role:
1. Prepare yourself so well that you can predict what they would say
As with most things in life, preparation is important. An interview is like a test, and you wouldn’t take a test without studying and preparing for it, right?
- Find out who is interviewing you and what their positions are in the company. Knowing who will be interviewing you makes things a little less daunting. It could also help you to know what type of question each interviewer is likely to ask you.
- Research the company and role. Make sure you know what the company does, what their services and products are, their competitors, their achievements and awards. Find out exactly what they are looking for in a candidate and what the role actually entails.
- Practice interview questions. There are always standard interview questions you will have to answer. Research the questions you’re likely to be asked and make sure you have an answer in mind for them. Think of examples of situations where you have used the skills or experience required for the role. Also, remember that there could be some curveball questions you can’t exactly prepare for, but expecting them will be helpful.
- Prepare your own questions. At the end of the interview you usually get asked whether you have any questions of your own. It’s good to have a few questions because it shows that you are actually interested in the company and the position, and that you have done your research. While researching the company, note down two or three questions you haven’t been able to find the answers to.
- Research the journey to the place of the interview, the transport and traffic conditions and always plan to arrive early. It’s infinitely better to arrive too early than to arrive late.
2. Engage with the panel skilfully
During the interview, it can be difficult to know where to look because there are several people you are speaking to. You need to make sure you are engaging with all the interviewers.
- First impressions count. Make eye contact when you greet each interviewer. Smile and give them a sturdy handshake.
- It’s tricky to remember people’s names when you first meet them, especially when you are nervous. But try to remember the names of the interviewers. Doing research beforehand on who is interviewing you will help with this.
- Be careful not to exclude anyone. During questions and answers, make eye contact with whoever is asking you a question, but when giving your answers, make sure you address the whole panel.
3. Beware of your tone and delivery
Remember that during an interview, what you say is not the only thing the interviewer will pay attention to. During a panel interview you will have several people paying attention to your overall attitude and body language.
- Be positive and optimistic. You want to highlight your skills and experience and demonstrate why you would be great for the role. However, be careful not to sound arrogant and over confident no matter how well you think the interview is going.
- Try to relax. Take deep breaths. Drink some water if you feel your mouth getting dry. Don’t fidget. Don’t fold your arms over your chest or sit in other closed off positions. Remember to smile.
- Think about your tone and delivery. No one wants to listen to someone who sounds bored or tired or uninterested. But at the same time, while showing enthusiasm, be clear and keep a good pace when speaking.
Featured photo credit: Shutterstock via kbrs.ca
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