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4 Panel Interview No-no’s

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An efficiency method more and more companies are implementing is the panel interview. Multiple hiring managers and members of the staff get to hear the questions and answers put to the candidates. With the group already assembled, immediately after the interview they can debrief. Good for the company but requiring a higher level of skill for the candidate. Here are some panel interview no-no’s to avoid.

Fail to Prepare for your Panel Interview

This becomes exponentially more important than the individual interview process. Questions will be fired at you from all sides and the better prepared you are the more comfortable you will be with the nuances of answering the same question for different people. To prepare take the top ten interview questions and write down your answers. Think of the top three questions about your background and choices and write down your answers.

Fail to Find Out Who is on the Interview Panel

Ask your recruiter and/or your HR contact to give you a list of who will be on the panel. Look them up on Linkedin. Think about what their concerns or interests will be in the person who takes this position. Try to memorize their picture and match it to their name so you can address them by name during the interview. If possible, at the beginning of the interview get their business card and align it with where they are sitting on the table in front of you . Addressing someone by their name is courteous and impressive.

Only Talk to the Most Senior Person on the Panel

It will be tempting to direct your answers to the hiring manager or the hiring manager’s boss. It is important to connect with everyone on the panel. If one person is monopolizing the questioning, try to include others in your answer, i.e. I know within the analytical group these individual meetings are important but when meeting with sales, I try to include a larger group. Incorporate body language in your rapport building. Shift your shoulders to face the person not just your eyes. Mention their name when you respond.

Let Yourself be Stumped

By their very nature panel interviews will have participants who might be very distantly related to your expertise . You may get a question that you have no idea how to answer or even what they are talking about. Turn the question back on them…”Has something similar happened in the past?” or “What’s been your prior experience with this?” Reframe the question to get clarification or to buy time to think about it. Don’t try to fake an answer. Honesty is best and “I’ve not run into that problem before.” Is a better answer than trying to make up something.

Creating a dialog versus a question and answer session is a real art in a panel interview. Want some help practicing for it? Contact the recruiters at Smith Hanley Associates. We are ready to help!

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