Panel Interviews

In panel interviews, the applicant is the sole candidate meeting with more than one interviewer.  A meeting of this nature is generally formal in nature.  Individuals usually attend within specific professional settings, such as academia, governmental and high-level corporate positions.  Often, members of the group represent aspects of the business or key departments which may be affected by the candidates hiring.  The group may simply represent a search committee.  As choices are narrowed, future interviews with decision-makers will be scheduled.

Playing to your Strength - Panel interviews have a strategic advantage over individual meetings.  As it may be intimidating to speak to a combination of people at one time, no one individual can dominate the meeting.  Often, the group contains a mixture of various personalities.  Each member has a "not-so-obvious" style.  At some point, you may have a chance to visit each one within separate visits - mini-interviews.  That being the case, this type of meeting allows the applicant the opportunity to meet everyone during one sitting.  Remember, these meetings are more formal than others. 

Each person may have a specific question(s) to ask.  Done in this fashion, the response from each applicant can be easily compared.  As a group, the same questions may be scripted.  This however doing not mean to say that a manager will not stray off topic to include follow-up questions.

Watch Out - Panel Interviews can certainly be unsettling.  The room may intentionally seem formal and stark.  As mentioned, the individual's challenge is to complete each answer to the satisfaction of each interviewer.  The panel may have five to six uniquely different in voice, mannerisms, and personality.  One may seem supportive while the other antagonistic. 

Strategy - After listening to each question, focus your verbal response to the individual asking the statement.  Give good eye contact with a voice of confidence and a relaxed demeanor.  Summarize the answer with a final short thought and glance at each person in the room.  Note the individual leading the panel - if one can be determined.  Give reference to this individual while paying ample attention to others in the group.