Most job searches mean you have to deal with panel interviews. Many large employers will want to use panel interviewing as a part of their recruitment process. It means a number of different people can be involved in the decision-making process. They can be from different parts of the organization with an interest in the role and can give a range of perspectives. Job interviews conducted by a panel are seen to be fair and valid because a number of different opinions and views are taken into account in making a decision.
Usually, each panel member will take turns to ask questions about your fitness for the role; your background, experience and interests. It can be difficult to build rapport with each panel member during the interview. And sometimes, unfortunately, there might be one panel member that you find it particularly difficult to get on with. This can happen at an interview, just as it can in other parts of your life.
Tips to help you build rapport with the interviewing panel.
- Knowing who the panel members are beforehand is a great help. If you can, research people on the internet using LinkedIn, for example! If this is not possible, use your knowledge of the company and the position to prepare to respond to questions from different parts of the organization such as human resources, line management, technical and finance.
- Your introduction is important to creating the right first impression. This is a good opportunity to connect with each panel member on a personal level before the interview questions begin. Make initial eye contact with each panel member and try to respond warmly and with interest.
- When the questions start, listen carefully to what is being asked and don’t be afraid to ask for clarifications or to make sure you understand correctly. It is important to answer the question that has been asked.
- Make initial eye contact with the person who asked the question and then include the other panel members in your answer. Scan from one face to the next, pausing briefly on each. Focus on speaking to each individual and then, as you finish your answer, return your focus to the person who asked the interview question. Stay calm and answer each question thoroughly.
- If you do get into a discussion or you are asked to consider an alternative point of view, again stay calm. Do not expect to be successful if you let anger or annoyance show. Take time to respond with a considered view. Watch your body language, you can show frustration without saying a word.
- If there is someone on the panel that you really cannot get on with, then don’t ignore how they make you feel and why. If that person is to be your immediate boss in the new organization, or someone further up the line to whom you will report, then think quite seriously about whether the role is right for you. Do this even if you are successful and it is a generous offer. I have worked with a number of clients who sensed at interview that all was not well but ignored those feelings, only to have regrets later.
With the right preparation and approach, I hope you will get on well with all the members of any interview panel that you meet.
Wendy Mason is a career coach. She helps people reach their goals and aspirations, without sacrificing their home and personal life. Before working as a coach, Wendy had a long career in both the public and private sectors in general management and consultancy as well as spells in HR. She now divides her time between coaching and writing. You can contact Wendy at firstname.lastname@example.org and find out more at http://wisewolfcoaching.com