What Is a Panel Interview and How to Ace Your Next One

A diverse group of four interviewers is seated around a conference table, smiling and engaged. One of the interviewers, a middle-aged man, is shaking hands with a candidate sitting across from him. The candidate appears confident and prepared, with a notepad and documents in front of him. The panel interview setting is professional, with notebooks, pens, and a small potted plant on the table, creating a welcoming and organized atmosphere.

In today’s competitive job market, group and panel interviews are becoming increasingly common.

Excelling in these types of interviews can set you apart from other candidates, showcasing your ability to interact with multiple interview panelists effectively.

This article provides an overview of key strategies for preparing, participating, and following up effectively in panel interviews, ensuring you make a positive impression and stand out as an ideal candidate.

What is a panel interview?

A panel interview involves a single candidate being interviewed by a group of interviewers, usually ranging from two to six people.

These interviewers often include potential supervisors, hiring managers, and representatives from human resources.

Virtual panel interviews are also prevalent, conducted over video conferencing platforms, making it essential to be prepared for both in-person and online formats.

This type of interview panel helps the hiring team gather diverse perspectives on the candidate under pressure, ensuring a well-rounded evaluation.

11 best practices for how to ace a panel interview

Best practices for how to ace a panel interview include researching the company, getting to know your panel interviewers, and taking individualized notes.

  1. Research the company
  2. Get to know your panel interviewers
  3. Review the job description
  4. Bring extra resume copies
  5. Make a good first impression
  6. Engage with all panel interviewers
  7. Use active listening
  8. Showcase teamwork and collaboration
  9. Stand out professionally
  10. Manage interruptions and taking turns
  11. Take individualized notes

1. Research the company

To make a positive impression during a panel interview, it is crucial to have a deep understanding of the company’s culture, mission, and values.

Familiarizing yourself with recent news and developments about the organization will help you tailor your responses and demonstrate your genuine interest in the company.

By showcasing this level of preparedness, you’ll be able to engage more meaningfully with the interviewers, highlighting your enthusiasm and suitability for the role.

2. Get to know your panel interviewers

Researching the panel members’ roles and backgrounds on LinkedIn or the company website is essential.

This will enable you to prepare specific questions tailored to each interviewer’s area of expertise, demonstrating that you have done your homework.

By showing this level of thoroughness and preparation, you will leave a lasting impression of professionalism and interest in the team dynamics.

3. Review the job description

Begin by identifying the key skills and experiences required for the position.

Evaluate your professional experiences and prepare specific examples that align with these job requirements, showcasing your relevant expertise.

Highlight how your transferable skills make you an exceptionally qualified candidate for the role, emphasizing your ability to meet and exceed the hiring team’s expectations.

4. Bring extra resume copies

In a panel interview, it is not uncommon for interviewers to request additional copies of your resume or references.

Having these documents readily available demonstrates your preparedness and attention to detail.

Additionally, bring a notepad and pen to jot down key points during the interview, which can be crucial for follow-up communication and reflecting on the discussion later.

5. Make a good first impression

First impressions are paramount in a panel interview; therefore, dress in professional attire that aligns with the company’s culture and ensures you arrive early to demonstrate your punctuality.

When you meet each interviewer, greet them individually with a firm handshake and a warm smile, which sets a positive and engaging tone for the interview.

Displaying this level of professionalism and courtesy from the outset can significantly enhance your credibility and rapport with the interview panel.

6. Engage with all panel interviewers

It is important to make eye contact and distribute your attention evenly among all panel members when responding to questions during the interview.

By using inclusive language, you can involve the entire group in the conversation, ensuring that your answers engage everyone present.

This approach helps to build a positive rapport with each interviewer and demonstrates your ability to communicate effectively in a team setting.

7. Use active listening

Active listening is a critical skill in a panel interview, as it reflects your attentiveness and respect towards each interviewer.

Pay close attention to each question and comment, ensuring you understand them fully before responding.

Take a moment to think before answering to provide thoughtful and well-considered responses that effectively address the interviewers’ inquiries.

8. Showcase teamwork and collaboration

Highlight examples of how you have worked effectively in teams by preparing anecdotes that showcase your collaborative projects and outcomes.

Demonstrate your ability to communicate with diverse groups by detailing instances where you successfully navigated different perspectives, cultures, or working styles to achieve common goals.

This approach underscores your teamwork skills, reflecting your potential to contribute positively to the organization’s collaborative environment.

9. Stand out professionally

Maintain a confident demeanor without appearing overbearing by balancing assertiveness with respect for others.

Contribute unique insights and perspectives during discussions to showcase your expertise and critical thinking abilities.

By displaying this combination of confidence and humility, you will leave a lasting impression and demonstrate your potential as a valuable team member.

10. Manage interruptions and taking turns

Interruptions may inevitably occur in a panel interview, presenting both challenges and opportunities.

If you need to interject, do so politely and ensure you are not talking over others, maintaining a respectful and professional tone.

When the situation allows, acknowledge and build upon the contributions of other candidates or interviewers, effectively demonstrating your teamwork skills and collaborative spirit.

11. Take individualized notes

Taking individualized notes about each interviewer is crucial for personalizing your follow-up communication and recalling specific details discussed during the interview.

One effective way to achieve this is by designating a section of your notepad for each panelist, noting their name, role, and key points made.

This organized approach will help tailor your thank-you emails and demonstrate your attention to detail.

Why do employers use panel interviews?

Employers use panel interviews to comprehensively understand a candidate from multiple perspectives.

This format allows different departments or team members to ask specific questions relevant to their areas, ensuring a more thorough assessment of the candidate’s skills and cultural fit.

Group interviews can also help demonstrate your ability to collaborate and communicate with diverse groups, which is often a key factor for many roles

Additionally, panel interviews can streamline the hiring process, reducing the need for multiple one-on-one interviews and enabling a collaborative decision-making approach.

Examples of common panel interview questions

Examples of common panel interview questions include behavioral, role-specific, and hypothetical panel interview questions.

Behavioral panel interview questions

“Tell us about a time when you had to resolve a conflict with a team member. How did you handle the situation and what was the outcome?”

Behavioral questions often focus on past experiences and how you handled various situations.

Use the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method to structure your answers.

Prepare for questions about past team projects, conflict resolution, and leadership.

Role-specific panel interview questions

“Can you describe a project where you used your technical skills to solve a complex problem? What was the problem, and what steps did you take to resolve it?”

To answer role-specific panel interview questions effectively, you should describe the problem by providing context about the project and the specific issue encountered.

Detail relevant examples that showcase your expertise and explain the resolution and results, highlighting the positive outcomes and measurable improvements achieved.

Hypothetical panel interview scenarios

“How would you handle a tight deadline for a project, knowing that it may require working long hours and coordinating with multiple team members?”

Hypothetical scenario questions assess your problem-solving skills.

Think critically and creatively to solve problems posed by the interviewers.

Explain your thought process clearly and logically, showcasing your analytical abilities.

How to follow up after a panel interview

How to follow up after a panel interview includes expressing gratitude and reiterating interest.

Express gratitude after your panel interview

Send a personalized thank-you email to each panel member within 24 hours.

Mention specific points from the interview that you found particularly engaging or informative, reiterating your appreciation for the opportunity.

Reiterate interest after your panel interview

Reaffirm your enthusiasm for the role and the company.

Highlight any additional points or questions you wish you had covered during the interview, demonstrating your continued interest and thoroughness.

How to succeed in a panel interview

Succeeding in a panel interview involves thorough preparation, engaging communication, and thoughtful follow-up.

By practicing these tips, job seekers can boost their confidence and performance, making a lasting impression on the entire panel and increasing their chances of securing the job.

Whether facing a virtual panel interview or an in-person session, these strategies are essential for navigating the complex dynamics of this common type of job interview.

Looking for your next gig? Let us help. 

Every year, Mondo helps over 2,000 candidates find jobs they love.

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