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Interview Tips for Acing a Panel Interview

One interviewer to impress is certainly enough; a whole team of them can seem like torture! However, as close to Halloween as we are, employers actually have far less gruesome reasons for wanting to use panel interviews. According to Susan Whitcomb, via CNN Money, companies use panel interviews because it is a good simulation of a team environment. Bringing in several people allows everyone to see how the interviewee would fit into the team. Also, it’s simply easier to compare notes afterward if all the stakeholders are at the same interview. The good news is that what makes panel interviews good for employers can also be helpful to job seekers if you simply follow these interview tips.

If you can, find out who is going to be on your panel. Ask the HR manager for the names and titles of the people you will be interviewing with when he/she schedules your panel interview. Look for the bios of these people on the company website, and possibly look them up on a social networking site like LinkedIn (don’t be too creepy!). Why is this important? You will want to do your job search homework differently depending on whether you are meeting with marketing, production, or other kinds of executives. Figure out what makes each panel member tick, and try to have something in your box of tricks (or treats?) that will play to that.

As one of the top interview tips, finding out who is on your panel interview will also make it easier for you to remember names, and to address each panel member directly. When a panel member asks you a question, direct most of your answer to him/her. However, also look to other members while you talk to include them in the conversation. You should also know, from your research, which of the panel members rank the highest. Be sure to pay attention to the boss, but avoid fawning.

Some interview tips are great for all scenarios, but a few are especially important in panel interviews with multiple members. First, taking notes can be a life-saver. With so many different people and questions in a panel interview, keeping everyone straight can be difficult. Politely keep track of things on a notepad, and save yourself having to remember the name of that third guy on the left—Rob? Bob? Next, be sure to ask good questions. Your panel will likely be made up of people from several different departments. This means that you may have the opportunity to ask questions that not everyone on the panel will know the answer to. What better way to get a person’s attention than by helping them learn something about the company?

Finally, send personalized thank-you notes to each panel member after your interview. This will show your attention to detail, and your respect for what everyone contributed to the panel interview. Best of luck!

What interview tips do you have for panel interviews? Leave a comment below, or send me a tweet: @ithinkther4iamb #interviewtips

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by quacktaculous

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Kristin has a B.A. in English from the University of Iowa, with an emphasis in creative writing. In her free time she enjoys long walks, kitchen adventures, and making puns.

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