By Randy Wooden, Director, Professional Center by Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina
A panel interview might seem more intimidating than a one-on-one job interview because you meet with numerous interviewers at the same time. Knowing what to expect and preparing accordingly can help you feel capable and confident.
Panel interviews often include at least three interviewers. One is likely your potential future boss while others may be future peers or perhaps representatives from a different department. Companies may conduct panel discussions to save time and allow their team to simultaneously engage with you so they have a common basis for evaluating your fit for their team.
#1 Engage with each interviewers Though the hiring decision may rest with the boss, that person will want input from everyone on the interview panel. When one person asks you a question, begin and end your response by making eye contact with him or her while engaging the entire panel with your response. Balancing your response engagement with all members of the panel will make a better impression.
#2 Prior to the interview, ask for the names and titles of each interviewer Check them out on LinkedIn and/or the company website to understand their roles, how long they have been with the company, and other background information. Ask each person for their business card. When seated, line up their cards in front of you to correspond to where they are sitting. This will help you remember their name and role during the interview.
#3 Send an individualized thank you note to each interviewer Ideally, you will send either an email and/or hand-written note to each interviewer. Make sure that you use different wording for each person’s note as they are may be compared. Mentioning an element of the interview conversation clarifying one of your answers can be an effective means of communicating your interest in the position.