How to Handle a Panel Interview

If you are interviewing with a panel of people, you have a lot of preparation in front of you.  Here are some ideas on how to get started.  When you are setting up the interview, be sure to ask for the names of all the participants.  Once you have their names, you can start your research.  Find them on LinkedIn.  View their profile and ready their summary and experiences.  Memorize their names/faces.  This will give you an advantage during the interview, and may take away some of your nerves.  Be sure to study up on your body language.  Read the post we had about that here.  Only one person will be asking you the question, but you will have many ears listening to your response.  Give a little more attention to the person that asked the question, but be sure to look at everyone and speak to each of them during your response.  Try to take control of the pace of the conversations.  Take a minute to breathe or take a sip of water.   Give yourself some time to compose your thoughts and keep yourself composed.  Be prepared for repetition.  Everyone is listening and watching.  Keep your composure, answer their questions, and add more to the answer each time the same question is asked.  It may be a slightly hostile setting, and there may be some one-upmanship within the panel, which you will not know about.  Again, keep your composure.  Don’t let the “zingers” throw you off track.  Keep your confidence and believe in yourself and your abilities.  You are a great candidate, and they’d be luck to have you on their team.  Show them.  Prove it.  Keep your cool and show them your strengths.  Keep in mind that it’s a bit like acting.  You are on stage and the panel is the audience.  Keep everyone engaged and try not to exclude anyone.  They have probably been doing these interviews all week and may be tired, so keep them entertained and interested.  Stand out of the crowd.  At the end of the interview remember to give each of them your business card, so have many on hand.  Send handwritten thank you notes to each of them, and write them all slightly different.  Try to include something they touched upon to make it personal.   Remember everyone’s name and give them a solid firm handshake before you leave.   And don’t forget to be yourself!

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