A one-on-one interview can make you shiver. And a panel interview may sound even more impressive and touching. Well, panic is not a good response – ever! Especially when there is no good reason for it.
In many ways, a panel interview is similar to a standard interview. Yes, a panel interview says you will face several decision makers at once, but it is still an interview that you can prepare for with a little work and effort.
So what is a panel interview?
A panel interview is just as the name implies. The candidate appears before a group of people, from anywhere from two and up. Each panel member will have the opportunity to ask frequently asked questions in an interview, many of which may be presented in a traditional one-on-one interview. However, in the case of the panel interview, some people will have the opportunity to hear the answers and observe all the verbal and non-verbal behaviors of the interviewee.
You may be invited to a panel interview for the following reasons:
- comfort: This shortens the recruitment process – some companies use it instead of doing rounds of interviews.
- Introductions: Typically, the people on the panel are the ones who will have some kind of relationship with the employee after being hired.
- Effort test: A panel-style interview can also “test” the candidate’s ability to “think on his feet” and feel comfortable in a situation of high pressure.
What to expect from a panel interview?
A standard panel interview includes a series of questions, usually structured around your overall abilities, job motivation, past experience, and personality traits. The interview will be “discourse”, not rigid and formal. Various stakeholders will usually lead a section of questions, for example a human resources person may ask personality-related questions, while your direct supervisor will ask more job-specific questions. The role of a panel is to get your “picture” as complete as possible.
Popular questions for a panel interview and tips for answers
Part of your preparation for a panel interview will be to anticipate the questions that will be asked and formulate a solid idea of how you will answer each of them. Think about the points you want to cover as you answer each question and memorize them.
To help you keep up to date, we have compiled a list of some popular panel interview questions and answers.
1. Can you please introduce yourself?
This question is often asked to reassure you with the “softball” question. But there is another purpose as well. The panel wants to see if you can accommodate who you are and what value you may bring to the organization. Many candidates make a mistake in providing a long response with everything in their resume – information that the panel has already read. Instead, provide a short answer with some career and not too personal emphases.
“My name is Todd. My background includes more than a decade of research and development experience. My focus has been on the aerospace sector, and I hold patents on three aerospace products. I am also a licensed pilot, and regularly volunteer my time flying medical equipment to developing countries.”
Need more tips? Read our post on the answer to the interview question “Tell me about yourself”.
2. Can you tell me about your outstanding achievements?
Again, this is a relatively standard “opener” that motivates you to discuss and contextualize in the context of some aspects of your career. Essentially, the panel wants to understand what you personally consider important for your role and whether your expertise will be “fit” for the role.
How do you come up with good examples and achievements worth mentioning? McKinsey hired recently Offers Create a series of stories, similar to a coil of highlights “Professional achievements that represent who I am and motivate me every time I talk about them”. The following is a sample answer for a fresh graduate who uses this technique.
“The most notable accomplishments related to my career began in college. There I joined the Future Business Leaders of America branch on campus and eventually became its president. Under my leadership, the chapter grew from about 50 to about 200 by the time I graduated. During that time, I also gained an internship. Very competitive with XYZ Corporation, which further helped me hone my organizational management skills and win a senior assistant position with Acme Inc.
3. Please provide an example of a difficult problem you solved.
This question is known as the “process”. The panel wants to understand how you will approach problems you may face at work and assess your analytical skills.
“When I started my job as a sales manager at XYZ, I inherited a team of sales staff, most of whom had been in their positions for quite some time. What I immediately noticed were two things: lack of enthusiasm and energy, and a group of people all working as individuals, not team members. Off-site workshop + weekly team retrospectives – which led to better cohesion “
4. Why are you interested in this position?
This is one of the panel interview questions that can be a bit complicated. The temptation is to talk about yourself and your goals and aspirations. But what the panel really wants to see is what value you can bring to the organization.
“Over the years I’ve developed leadership and management skills that have proven valuable to two companies I have worked for. I was interested to read your recent press release that you are planning to expand to two more states, and that means more sales staff and sales people. Of successful launches to the market, I felt obligated to apply “
For more tips, see also our post How to Answer “Why are you interested in this position?” Ask an interview or watch this video:
5. How would you describe your ideal work environment?
The panel is looking for an answer that will show that you will “fit in” with their culture. Never go into your panel interview without doing enough research on the company to understand its culture.
“I thrive in a collaborative and participatory environment – one where every employee is considered a valuable member of the organization. Personally, I also prefer and practice in the style of servant leadership.”
6. Do you have managerial or supervisory experience?
The panel may already know that you have or do not have official managerial experience. However, many would like to get more context regarding your management style and approaches. Or learn about any informal supervision experiences you have developed, as well as your overall leadership skills.
“Although I have no managerial experience at work, I have a related background. While in college, I was the editor of the student newspaper. In that role, I oversaw a team of seven, delegated assignments, edited their contributions and held staff meetings.”
Questions to Ask Panel Interviews
Often, at the end of a panel interview, you may be asked if there is anything else the panel will know about you. Here, you will want to talk to anything important that you think was not well covered while answering the questions. For example, you may want to talk about your great communication skills or your flexibility and give some examples.
Then, you will probably be given more space to ask your series of follow-up questions as well. So be sure to make a quick list. Here are some ideas:
- What makes people successful in this role?
- Who will I work directly with?
- What was the turnover rate in this position?
- What do you like most about working here?
- Can you name the most challenging parts of this role?
- Is there anything you still want to know about me that is not covered in my resume or during this interview?
How to prepare for a panel interview
Preparing for a panel interview will not be significantly different from preparing for a one-on-one event, such as research, anticipation of questions, and bringing concrete stories and examples in these answers. But there are a few other things to keep in mind in this more stressful situation, especially physical behaviors that include eye contact and any nervous habits that can be distracting.
Here are some of the best tips for a panel interview:
- Learn who will be on the panel. Investigate their positions in society and put a face to it. This will help you remember names during the interview.
- Bring enough copies of your resume For any panel member – even if he already has one, it makes you look very ready.
- Feel free to ask clarifying questions Or further to what you just answered. It gives a more conversational tone to the interview
- Inject some humor – It calms everyone down and demonstrates another aspect of your personality
- Make sure you have your list of questions And rest assured that one of them relates to what the next step will be and who will contact you.
A panel interview can be stressful because you feel like you are about to stand trial in front of a jury. It does not have to be. The key is to prepare – do your research, anticipate the questions you are likely to receive, make sure you have the stories and examples you intend to use, and practice the physical behaviors you need to demonstrate.
Frequently Asked Questions About Panel Interviews
Here are some of the most common questions you may have about panel interviews:
1. How do you stand out in a panel interview?
There are a few things you can do. When telling stories or giving examples, make sure they are engaging and interesting. Anecdotes are always good. Make sure you can contact any panel member by name. Add some appropriate humor, make eye contact, smile and show enthusiasm when talking about your skills and talents and open attitude.
2. How do you present yourself in a panel interview?
The panel will know your name, and of course they know you’re coming. What usually happens is that each panel member will introduce himself or herself to you. You will most likely introduce yourself by answering the first question – tell us about yourself. This is where your elevator pitch comes into the picture.
3. Is the panel interview the last interview?
Not necessarily. The panel process may be designed to narrow the field of candidates to two or three finalists who will be sent to a higher authority for an interview and final selection.
4. How long should a panel interview last?
Most of them are scheduled for about an hour, but they may be less or a little longer. Do not stress about timing. The panel will guide your answers and adjust the interview rate if they expect exceptions. Just go with the proposed flow.