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Panel Interviews.  You’ve worked through the process of actually finding a job you would like to apply for. You painstakingly addressed the selection criteria, expertly repositioned your resume to highlight the most appropriate achievements and you’ve FINALLY secured an interview!  Congratulations ….. however, you then notice it’s a panel interview and a mild panic begins to set in.  This needn’t be the case, since a panel interview is simply a time efficient way of the organisational stakeholders to meet you in one sitting, and for you to get to know the people you will be dealing with on a day to day basis in your role.  You should apply the same three point approach to the panel interview as you would a normal interview.

1. Preparation – know who is asking the questions

You will be given a list of the panelists and their job titles so you can look them up either on LinkedIn or their company website and research their backgrounds.  This will help you to understand what is important to them in their roles, and what they might be looking for from you in terms of your performance in the role.  It will also help you to anticipate the type of questions they may put to you.   Most panelists will be prepared and their administrators would have provided them with a copy of your resume along with some pre-prepared interview questions.  Ensure that you know the name of each interviewer and use it with ease.  Address each person when you respond, but try to also engage the whole panel throughout your answer to make them feel engaged, directing your conclusion back to the person who asked the question.

2. Engage with the group
To perform well, you will need to of course answer each questions directly, but try to elaborate further by addressing the perspectives of each of the panellists.  For example, one interviewer may question you about Project Management but from your research, you know that the CEO and Governance Manager are more interested in how you would prioritise investment funding and apply best practice industry thinking to the decision making process.  So, you could respond with, “Working with Board Members is essential to develop and implement funding strategies.  This has taught me how to target both government and private sector donors, as well as grant-making bodies. From a commercial perspective, I have advised on capacity building building on the training I have received from different government led programs”.

It goes without saying to keep your body language in check.  I have personally always struggled with this – will it really mean I don’t get an interview because of my posture??  Surely not …. well maybe not but if spending time focusing on this helps to improve your personal power, confidence and self-esteem then it makes sense to me.  This TED talk by Amy Cudder is worth watching.

Remember that engagement leads to just that … further engagement, so be prepared for those follow up questions.  It’s good to have a few layers prepared to your answers so that if your interviewers are interested in peeling them back to reveal more, they will find some substance behind what you are communicating.

3. Post Interview Reflection

Be kind to yourself.  It’s not unusual to leave an interview and immediately pull apart every minute detail wishing you’d have said this or that.  Suddenly all the perfect examples will be glaringly crystal clear and on reflection you could have nailed it!  But it’s not over yet.  You will be surprised at how many allowances are made for nerves and how much of the hiring focus is on character and culture fit.  So don’t beat yourself up until you hear from the client as to the next steps.  Oh, and remember to express your appreciation by sending each interviewer a personalised thank-you note which will send a warm and positive message and also, provides you with the opportunity to lightly reiterate any areas that you could perhaps do more justice to.

What experiences have you had with Panel Interviews and how do you feel about them generally?  Also, have you ever been on the other side, if so what advice can you give to others?  As always I’m interested to hear your thoughts so please share on the blog page via the social media plug-in – I’d love to hear from you!