How to Deal with Panel Interviews
Panel Interviews and how to prepare for them
Oddly enough, because they are unusual they tend to catch you off guard and the danger of a “rabbit in headlights” response becomes very real.
Panel interviews are can be challenging, and being a different approach than standard one to ones, require more thought and preparation.
The key point for a successful panel interview is preparation. While this is undeniably true for any interview, with panels it really comes into its own. You don’t just have one interviewer to concern yourself with, you have upward of three.
It's essential that you have researched each of your interviewers to obtain insights into their background and current position in the organisation. Don’t be afraid to use social media as part of your research – do they have a profile on LinkedIn? If so, do you have any connections in common, can you view their profile? Gaining an idea of the background of each interviewer obviously provides you with insights into their CV; look for commonalities between you. Have you perhaps worked for the same company previously, or have other links in common? This will assist you in developing a rapport and make your answers relevant when citing examples.
It is essential that you show an understanding of how the business makes money. This may be the relatively simple sale of products, but it may be complicated services or a global corporation that is a much more complex concern.
This is your chance to show how can contribute to cost savings and improving efficiency, sales development,training and critical path efficiency thereby increasing cost effectiveness across the board. Don’t forget, emphasise in the interview how you have covered these matters in the past and the benefits bought about as a result. Use the opportunities to sell yourself as they are presented.
‘S’- scenario. Choose a scenario that most appropriately fits the question. It could be about your experience when you have implemented new strategies or processes, keep it relevant.
‘O’ – ownership. Ensure that it's clear who took ownership of the scenario (hint: this should be you).
‘A’ – action What you did to develop the opportunity and bring about a satisfactory conclusion?
‘R’ – result? How did the outcome have an effect on the company and other departments? This technique will help you to formulate an answer that is succinct, lasting about two minutes, contextualised and most importantly, actually answers the question.
Alternatively, each panel member may take ownership of a certain element of the interview, and ask questions in turn. The least organised and by far the most intimidating is the free for all, with all members of the panel jumping in and little structure. This format tends to lend itself to the good cop; bad cop approach most satisfactorily, being designed to catch you off guard.
Of course, part of the assessment protocol from the whole process is about how you cope in a pressurised environment. In a panel this loose, created through the dynamic of different personalities engenders a very challenging environment for the interviewee.
Perhaps with the continued drive for efficiency in processes they may one day be a common experience for the jobseeker.