What is a panel interview? Exploring the group interview process
May 12, 2023
What is a panel interview?
A panel interview is a unique type of job interview where an applicant faces multiple interviewers simultaneously. These interviewers usually consist of people from various departments within the company, such as potential supervisors, managers, team members, and HR specialists. The main objective of this type of interview is to obtain a well-rounded perspective on the candidate, as well as assess their compatibility with the team and the organisation.
The process involves the panel members asking questions about the candidate's experience, qualifications, and goals. This format allows the hiring team to gain insights from multiple perspectives, reducing the risk of making a poor hiring decision. Moreover, panel interviews offer the opportunity for candidates to showcase their interpersonal and teamwork skills, which are often critical aspects of many roles.
In order to succeed in a panel interview, candidates must adequately prepare by researching the company, anticipating potential questions, and focusing on clear communication. Keep in mind that the key to success lies in impressing not just one individual, but the entire panel, by demonstrating a strong fit with the organisation's culture and values.
What types of panel interviews can take place?
Panel interviews are a type of job interview where multiple employees come together to interview a candidate at the same time. There are various other types of interviews, such as:
What is the difference between a panel interview and a group interview?
While panel interviews involve multiple interviewers assessing a single candidate, group interviews assess multiple candidates at the same time. Both formats have their own advantages and disadvantages.
What type of interviewers would host a panel interview?
In a panel interview, decision-makers often come from diverse backgrounds, including potential supervisors, managers, team members, and HR specialists. This diversity provides a more comprehensive perspective on the candidate, helping to assess their skills, qualifications, and cultural fit.
Panel interviewers are valuable for several reasons:
Multiple opinions reduce the risk of making a bad hire
Gathers input from various departments within a company
Allows teammates to participate in the hiring process
How to prepare for a panel interview
Step 1: Research
Before attending a panel interview, it's crucial to research the company and understand its values, culture, and objectives. Candidates should familiarise themselves with the company's products or services, recent news, and any significant milestones. Being well-informed about the organisation will help candidates answer questions confidently and demonstrate their genuine interest in the position.
Step 2: Organisation
Organising documents and materials is essential for a successful panel interview. Candidates should ensure that their resume is up-to-date, highlighting relevant experience and skills. Candidates should prepare a list of questions you would like to ask the panel members. Asking insightful questions can showcase a candidate's preparation and commitment to the role.
Step 3: Practise
Practising answers to common interview questions is valuable, as is rehearsing industry-specific inquiries. While candidates cannot predict every question the panel may ask, rehearsing their responses will boost their confidence and help them keep their sentences short and to the point.
Step 4: Goals
During the panel interview, candidates will likely be asked about their goals, both short-term and long-term. Candidates should reflect on how this position aligns with their aspirations and how it can contribute to their career development. Candidates should show enthusiasm for the role and explain how it fits into their overall plan.
Step 5: Qualifications
Qualifications are a key factor in the panel's assessment of a candidates suitability for the role. They should be prepared to discuss their education, certifications, and relevant experience. Candidates should provide concrete examples of how their qualifications have contributed to their past successes and how they can benefit the company in the future.
By following these guidelines, a candidate can better prepare for a panel interview and increase their chances of success. Remember to use clear, concise language and maintain a confident, knowledgeable tone during the discussion.
Tips for how candidates should present themselves during a panel interview
Arrive on time and dress professionally
Be polite and courteous to everyone they meet
Introduce themselves with confidence to each panel member
First impressions are crucial in a panel interview. Panel members will assess confidence, appearance, and demeanour as soon as a candidate enters the room.
Show genuine interest in each interviewer
Listen actively and attentively to questions
Use positive facial expressions and tone
Establishing rapport with each panel member will demonstrate the ability to work well with different personalities. Candidates should attempt to develop a connection with each interviewer by answering questions sincerely and showcasing their enthusiasm about the role.
Eye contact and body language
Establish eye contact with each panel member
Exude a confident and comfortable posture
Avoid fidgeting or crossing your arms
Maintaining eye contact and utilizing positive body language is essential. Direct eye contact with the questioner shows engagement and attentiveness. A comfortable posture demonstrates confidence and assertiveness.
Handling stressful situations
• Stay calm and focused under pressure • Admit when they don't know something • Take a moment to compose themselves before responding
During a panel interview, candidates may face stressful questions or situations. Demonstrating an ability to remain calm under pressure showcases adaptability and problem-solving skills. It's important for a candidate to admit when they're unsure about something and to think before answering.
How to answer panel interview questions
Step 1: Demonstrate expertise
When facing panel interview questions, it's crucial for candidates to showcase their expertise to impress the interviewers. They should focus on discussing relevant skills and credentials that align with the job requirements. Candidates should use specific examples to demonstrate their proficiency, and shouldn't be afraid to talk about their achievements at previous jobs.
Step 2: Showcase major accomplishments
Panel interviewers often look for candidates who can showcase their major accomplishments. When discussing experiences, candidates should highlight their most impactful achievements. Candidates should use numbers and tangible outcomes to give a clear picture of their success. For example:
Increased sales by 30% in the first six months of the employment
Implemented a new system that reduced processing time by 50%
Successfully implemented a cost-saving measure that saved £20,000 annually
Step 3: Discuss teamwork experiences
Teamwork plays a vital role in many work environments. During a panel interview, candidates should focus on highlighting your teamwork experiences to show how well they work with others. Candidates should share scenarios where they collaborated effectively or resolved conflicts within a team. Candidates should demonstrate their communication skills and ability to adapt to diverse team dynamics.
Step 4: Talk about relevant work experiences
Panel interviews often focus on your experiences in the workplace. When answering questions, candidates should mention situations that directly relate to the position they are interviewing for. Candidates should emphasise their ability to handle challenges and grow from past experiences.
Candidates should remember to:
Use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to structure answers
Mention how they faced challenges and overcame them
Discuss lessons learned and how they have shaped their career growth
By following these guidelines, candidates can effectively answer panel interview questions, demonstrating their expertise, major accomplishments, teamwork skills, and relevant experiences to the interviewers.
How to effectively conclude the panel interview
Ask the interviewer questions
At the end of a panel interview, it's crucial to ask questions back to the interviewers. This is an opportunity for candidates to show their interest in the company and the specific role. When asking questions, candidates should focus on the following aspects:
Work culture and environment
Expectations and responsibilities of the role
Opportunities for growth and career development
Support and resources available for the job
Candidates should make sure that their questions are thoughtful and well-structured, demonstrating their engagement with the company and interview panel.
Exchange business cards
As the panel interview comes to a close, candidates should consider exchanging business cards with the interviewers. This is a professional gesture that leaves a positive impression and establishes a connection for future correspondence. To exchange business cards:
Offer their business card to each interviewer
Graciously accept the business cards of the interviewers
Take a moment to look at the details on the cards before putting them away
By following these steps, candidates can demonstrate their professionalism and further establish their connection with the interviewers.
Virtual panel interviews
A remote panel interview involves at least two interviewers and is conducted through video conferencing software. This type of interview allows employers to assess candidates' suitability for a role while also providing practical convenience.
How to conduct a remote panel interview
Introduce all panel members: Each interviewer should briefly present their role in the company.
Establish the interview structure: Inform the candidate about the order of questions.
Speak clearly and concisely: Ensure everyone can understand each other.
Be mindful of time: Allocate time for each question and section to stay on schedule.
Engage with the candidate: Maintain virtual eye contact and use active listening.
Provide a platform for questions: Give the interviewee the chance to ask their own questions.
What to do after the panel interview
Follow up with the interviewers
After a panel interview, it's important for candidates to follow up with the interviewers to express their appreciation for their time and consideration. Sending a personalised thank you note to each panel member is a polite and professional gesture that can help a candidate stand out in a competitive job market. This can help solidify a positive impression of a candidate and increase their chances of being selected for the role.
Understanding the hiring decision
The hiring decision will be based on the collective opinions and perspectives of the panel members. Understanding how this decision is made can help candidates better navigate the hiring process.
Panel interviews often involve supervisors from different departments or colleagues candidates would potentially work with if hired. This group-based decision-making process aims to reduce the risk of making a bad hire and ensure the candidate is a good fit for the team and company culture.
Candidates should keep in mind that the hiring process might take time, as the panel members need to discuss and evaluate each candidate's qualifications and fit for the role. If a candidate does not receive an immediate response or decision, it's a good idea to maintain contact with the hiring manager or human resources representative to express their interest and inquire about the hiring timeline.
In summary, after a panel interview, it's important to follow up with the interviewers and stay patient as the hiring decision is made. By understanding the role of the panel and being proactive with communication, a candidate can better navigate the job search and hiring process.
In conclusion, proper preparation and adaptability can help job seekers perform well in panel interviews. Understanding the company culture, being aware of job titles and postings, and addressing potential biases are vital aspects of this process.
This post was written by: Alicia Edwards, Digital Marketing Assistant