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What Is a Panel Interview and How Do You Nail One?

A panel interview is an interview with two or more employees present. The interviewers can consist of the company president, department supervisor, HR representative, or team member. 

panel interview

Many employers favor panel interviews, but they are nerve-wracking for applicants. However, they don’t have to be! In this article, we’ll cover everything there is to know about this type of interview, including how to ace one.

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What Can I Expect From a Panel Interview?

You will likely sit around a table with three to five decision-makers for 45 minutes. Each interviewer will ask you a series of questions, or the group will take turns asking you one question at a time. 

Regardless of the structure, the interview will be faster-paced as there’s no need for long pauses and note-taking. Therefore, preparing for the interview is crucial. 

executives at panel

To do so, practice quick-thinking by listening to each question carefully and finding ways to think it through without stalling. Also, prepare as many shareable stories as possible.

Think about noteworthy moments from your education, professional, and volunteer experience that made you a better employee. 

The panel interview tips below will also help you outshine your competition: 

  • Research your panel. If you’re not provided with interviewer names beforehand, politely ask for them. Once you know who will be in your interview, use LinkedIn or the company’s webpage to learn how the individuals in the panel are important to your candidacy. Doing this research will help you connect with them during the interview. 
  • Take notes. The moment you sit down, write down the interviewers’ names in the order they’re sitting. Also, jot down questions or interesting points that arise throughout the interview.
  • Control your body language. Avoid leg shaking, thumb-twiddling, or staring down. Instead, sit up straight and make eye contact with every interviewer each time you speak. 
  • Bring enough materials. If you’re bringing along a resume or portfolio, ensure you have more than enough for everyone. 
  • Prepare to expand on your answers. If your responses may raise a question for another interviewer, be prepared to tell the panel more. 
  • When the panel asks if you have any questions— don’t say no. You’re interviewing them too! Consider asking what challenges you may face or what they love most about the company. 

Panel Interview Questions and Answers 

A panel interview can feel more intimidating than a one-on-one meeting, but they contain similar behavioral and character questions. Example questions include: 

  • Tell me about yourself. 
  • Why do you want to work here? 
  • Tell me about a time you made a mistake at work and how you handled it. 
  • Tell me about a time you disagreed with a coworker. 

Why Do Employers Do Panel Interviews? 

Employers conduct these types of interviews because they’re time-efficient and improve the outcome. 

They also eliminate the need for multiple interviews with different employees, saving the company time and money. Additionally, when multiple employees hear the same answer, it diminishes misinterpretations and potential biases. 

Panel interviews are also an excellent way for employers to determine if you’ll enjoy working alongside them as the process is essentially a collaborative conversation with you.  

interview panel

Most of all, they provide insight into how you handle stress. Not only are multiple eyes on you, but panel interviews are fast-paced. Every employer seeks candidates that can perform well under pressure. Sometimes, this is the primary reason companies opt for a panel. 

Panel Interview Advantages and Disadvantages

These interviews are advantageous for candidates as well. Pros include: 

  • A front-row seat to how well the team collaborates.   
  • A shorter hiring process. Is a panel interview the last interview? Typically, yes. 
  • A less biased decision. According to the Harvard Business Journal, most interviewers prefer someone similar to themselves, which can be problematic during one-on-one interviews. 

In some cases, a panel interview can be less productive than multiple one-on-one interviews. The cons include: 

  • Group thinking. A dominant personality can easily sway the decision. If the employer sets clear-cut roles throughout the process, this won’t be a problem. 
  • Intimidated candidates struggle to perform, leading to an inaccurate evaluation of their qualifications. Gather as much information about the interview beforehand to ease your nerves. 

Final Thoughts 

So you’ve finished your panel interview. What now? Before you relax, start on thank you notes. Thank each interviewer with individual details.

Doing this will undoubtedly set you apart from other candidates as only 10 percent of interviewees follow up with a thank-you note.

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