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All eyes on you: How to ace a panel interview

Panel job interviews can be nerve-racking. But researching the panel, remaining calm and preparing success stories will help you impress at this stage of the hiring process, says recruiting experts Hays.


“More so than telephone or one-on-one interviews, panel interviews with three or more interviewers all focusing their attention on you make jobseekers the most nervous,” says Christine Wright, Operations Director of Hays in Asia. 


“But preparation is the key. Researching the panel, making a list of potential questions and practising answers beforehand will help calm those jitters. During the interview, taking a moment to collect your thoughts and talking to the entire panel will calm your nerves,” she said.


Here are Hays’ top tips for preparing for a panel interview:


  1. Research the panel: Ask your recruiter for the names of the people on the panel, and research them on the organisation’s website or LinkedIn page. This allows you to put faces to names, so you can address the panellists by name in the interview.


  1. Anticipate questions: Also use this research to anticipate what each individual interviewer is likely to focus on. Then you can prepare relevant examples before your interview. For example, for a HR representative you could prepare examples of how your work style fits the organisation’s culture. For the line manager you could demonstrate how you have overcome the common challenges of the role or department. And for a co-worker you could prepare examples to show you are a reliable team player willing to help others.  


  1. Speak to the entire panel: Make eye contact with each panellist. While your focus will naturally be on the individual asking each particular question, also talk to and engage with the entire panel to demonstrate your interpersonal skills.


  1. Stay calm: Some jobseekers feel intimidated by a panel and so rush their answers. One aspect of a panel interview is to test how candidates react in a high pressure environment. So take a deep breath, collect your thoughts and remain calm, particularly if the panel is asking a series of ‘rapid fire’ questions.


  1. Ask each panellist a question: Towards the end of the interview you will likely be asked if you have any questions of your own. Your research prior to the interview allowed you to identify the discipline and focus of each interviewer, so use this to prepare a question for each relevant to their role in relation to the vacancy on offer.  


Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people.



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