Top 13 tips for a successful panel interview


Rachita Jain


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What are panel interviews?

“Panel interviews are interviews in which more than one interviewers interview a single candidate. A panel interview comprises a panel of two or more interviewers who can be from different departments of the same organization such as the recruitment department, management department, or HR department.”
Panel interviews are common among almost all sectors and fields including education, government, corporate, health care, etc. Panel interview questions asked in a panel interview intend to examine the interviewees thoroughly to recruit the best candidate.
Want to know how to prepare for a panel interview? Scroll down!

Difference between a panel interview and a 1:1 interview

Panel Interview
1:1 Interview
In a panel interview, a panel of interviewers interviews a single candidate
In a 1:1 interview, there is a single interviewer who interviews a single candidate
Panel interviews are generally used during the recruitment of senior positions such as manager, or CEO
1:1 interviews are conducted to fill junior-level positions such as analyst, data entry positions, etc.
Number of Interviewers
2 or more
A single interviewer
Thorough assessment
Fill the position faster and save time, effort, and cost
Can be biased and partial
Tougher to crack
Comparatively easier
Hence, panel interviews are the optimum choice when companies have to make senior-level recruitments as it is difficult for a single person to make the most accurate recruitment. Whereas, 1:1 interviews are used for appointing entry-level positions as they save time and effort for the entire firm.

Tips for acing your panel interview

How to prepare for a panel interview

1. Take notes

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If you want to know how to prepare for a panel interview, then the first step is to take extensive notes of the information available. Before you sit in a panel interview, research thoroughly and cater all the necessary information. Search the company website and social media accounts. Then take notes of everything including
  • Names and roles of everyone who will be presiding over your panel interview
  • How you will address the concerns and questions of each member
  • The topics you will be asked about in the panel interview
  • The structure of the interview
  • The things that you need to carry with you such as a pen and a notebook
  • Whether you need to give a presentation on a topic or not

2. Provide unique accomplishments and examples

Since it is a panel interview, you will be examined thoroughly with their panel interview questions. The number of panel interview questions is less and hence, their answers should be great. Try to make the most of what you say.
Try to present a visual story of what you say through your words as it is easier to remember and retain stories. Talk about only those accomplishments and accolades that stand relevant to the job. Don’t waste your time telling them that you topped your class. Instead, tell them that you did something that was extraordinary. Co-curricular matters a lot in panel interviews.

3. Be polite

You should be polite and calm during a panel interview even if things are not going as you planned them. Being arrogant and rude will burn down your chances of getting a job. During a panel interview, the interviewers might try to put you in a stressful situation by asking you hard panel interview questions to test how you cope with stress. And if you lose your temper here, then you are definitely going down the hill.
Panel interview tips: Don’t be extra polite as it might seem you are trying to flatter the interviewers with your words. Instead, try to impress them with your skills and experience.

4. Be confident and make eye contact

Confidence is the key to cracking a panel interview. Make eye contact with the panel interviewers so that they know you are a confident person. What you say, say it out loud and clear. Show the interviewers that you are a being of absolute confidence and integrity.
And if you don’t know the answer to a particular, then be honest. You are not Google who knows the answers to all panel interview questions. But your confidence in telling the truth and determination to find the answers is what matters because being confident in uncomfortable situations is not everyone’s cup of tea.

5. Show your team spirit

A match won in a game is won with a good team and not because of a single player. Therefore, if you want to win and grow, you need to have team spirit. Team spirit, in fact, is an essential quality for a good leader. Moreover, a study reveals that there are a number of positive impacts of teamwork on the performance of an organization.
Therefore, during a panel interview, show the interviewers that you know the real meaning of team spirit. Try to cite something from your part as an example to prove it. For instance, you may talk about an incident where you showed absolute team spirit.

6. Be clear with your thoughts

Clarity of thoughts is extremely important in a panel interview. The bench of interviewers will try to confuse you with their different panel interview questions to check your stability during tougher times. The more intelligible and precise your answers will be, the better will be your chances of getting that job.
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Clarity of thoughts is a part of a winning personality. Interviewers will ask you the most simple and unusual questions such as ‘the last time you made someone smile, or ‘when was the last time you laughed? Make sure you answer these questions with utmost clarity.

7. Show your solution-oriented mindset

If you are pointing out certain problems, then make sure you have solutions to them. Talking about problems without solutions is not a good idea during a panel interview.
In some panel interviews, the bench of interviewers gives you a problem, and they expect a solution for it. During such situations, don’t end up elaborating on the problem. Instead, talk about the solution. Even if your solution is not perfect, at least you tried and this is what the interviewers expect from a candidate.

8. Tell them about your side projects

If you have previously worked on some side projects, then mention them during the panel interviews. Side projects are like your extra marks for good handwriting. They add prestige to your existing experience and qualifications.
Panel interview tips: Cite an example here from your past. An example with an extensive report will give them an idea that you are telling the truth. It will portray the experience you gained out of those projects and how they helped you in the growth of your career. Managing something entirely on your own is not a usual thing.

9. Try to blend in

Don’t stay aloof from the panel. In fact, try to blend in. A panel interview doesn’t have to be an entirely one-way thing where the interviewers ask and you answer. You can also ask them questions if something comes up in your mind. Make sure you prepare a list of questions to ask an interview panel.
If you blend in there, then there are high chances of you getting selected. The interviewers will surely think that you are capable of blending into their company culture. This is a good sign as it shows that you are capable of adapting and adjusting quickly.

10. Tell them what you are passionate about

If you are devoted to something, then you do it with great zeal and fervor. Moreover, passionate people are more creative and hard-working. You need not be passionate only about your work. Instead, you can be passionate about anything including music, dance, some game, or anything.
notion image
Panel interview tips: If you mention your passion in a panel interview, then make sure you link it to your work. For instance, you can tell the interviewers that “my passion for dance has led to an overall increase in my stamina. Moreover, dance acts like therapy to me. It has helped me with my temper.” or “I have a heart for football. Playing football has enhanced my social skills and my team-playing skills. Football taught me that a successful match is a match played with the coordination of an entire team and not by the efforts of an individual alone.”

11. Do your homework

Before you go sit in a panel interview, make sure you do your homework. Your homework includes:
  1. A thorough research about the company, its values, its mission, and what it does.
  1. Gather all possible information about the interviewers who will preside over your panel interview.
  1. Study the structure of the company you are applying for.
  1. Try to find out some stories that the company is built around.
When you mention such peculiar things in front of the panel interviewers, it depicts the level of interest you have in working with them.

12. Prepare to follow up

Once you are done with a panel interview, do not forget to follow up after it. Maintaining a dialogue after your panel interview is highly significant. It is your wish how you want to follow up, whether through an email or over a call.
Panel interview tips: Following up is absolutely necessary as it shows that you are sincerely vested in that job opportunity. It shows that you are not taking it for granted. Instead, you are eager on working with that firm.

13. Set the pace of the interview

Don’t take a backseat during the interview. Rather, stay active and set the pace of the interview. Answer the questions sincerely and do not forget to ask questions too. Be comfortable and act mindfully. Nervousness will make you fumble and divert you. But you should overcome it. Don’t let the interviewers decide the pace of your panel interview as this gives them the power over you. They will take this as an opportunity to grill you. Therefore, the best way to beat grilling is by setting the pace of the interview according to your comfort.

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