A panel interview is where there is one candidate but two or more interviewers. Many people do not like panel interviews but I believe they are a very useful tool in the selection process. It prevents just one person’s bias from derailing the entire interview. But the panel interview does present a few challenges for the candidate.
Set up: Hopefully there is a good set up for you, as the candidate. Usually panel interviews are done in conference rooms. If you are at the end of a rectangular table or on the other side from the interviewers then you are in luck from a logistics point of view. If you are at a round table it may seem less formal but it is more difficult to make eye contact with everyone.
Introductions: Introduce yourself to each person with a handshake. Do your best to remember each person’s name. It is also a good idea to ask them for a business card or write down their name to reference later. Always ask if they have a copy of your resume and offer them one.
Eye contact: Ideally you will make most of your eye contact with the person who asked the question but be sure to look at the other interviewers as well. Don’t leave anyone out.
Questions: Frequently the questions come more quickly in panel interviews and the interviewers may play off each others questions. Hopefully you don’t run into a situation where they try to outdo each other with touch questions but it does happen.
Use their names: Everyone likes you using their name. If the answer to one question overlaps with another answer you gave previously you could say something like “Similar to the situation Mangesh gave me, I would….”
Your Questions: If you know ahead of time who you will be interviewing with, it is a good idea to prepare questions for each interviewer based on your research. For instance, if you are interviewing for a position in sales and the operations manager is there you could ask “tell me a little about how operations and sales interact.” ALWAYS ask what the next step in the process is.
Follow up: Be sure to follow-up with a thank you email to each person you interview with and include specific information relevant to them. Do not just send out a generic thank you.
Like all interviews, try to stay calm. Most of the time the people you are interviewing with really do want to find out if it is a good two-way match for you and them.
Stressed spelled backwards is DESSERTS!