April 28th, 2010

Top Ways to Pass a Panel Interview

by Jacqueline Whitmore

By: Jorie Scholnik, Guest Blogger

Iwas elated when my first choice for a graduate internship site notified me that I was selected for an interview. I did my research and felt extremely prepared. I assumed that I would be interviewed by just one person, however, I was quite wrong. When my potential boss greeted me, she brought me back to a room where three other people were sitting around the table. I realized that I was going to be interviewed by a panel of potential coworkers.

I introduced myself to everyone in the room and shook everyone’s hand. When prompted, I mostly focused on the panelist who asked the question, but made a point to make eye contact and acknowledge the other members in the group. I also took note of their different titles and responsibilities and made an effort to ask questions to some of the panelists at the end of the interview. After the interview, I wrote a thank you note to each member of the team.

According to an article posted in the San Francisco Chronicle, the strategy behind panel interviews usually involves observing how well a job candidate performs under pressure and how he or she interacts with others in an unfamiliar setting. The panel pays attention to your communication skills, listening skills, nonverbal behavior, and how well you interact in a team setting. Although your previous work experiences and accomplishments are the factors that bring you the interview, it’s your chemistry with the team and your ability to build relationships that will advance you to the second round.

There are several additional tips to take into consideration when participating in a panel interview:

Be prepared for the situation. Before the interview, ask the names, titles and roles of the people who will be interviewing you. Take time to learn the company’s hierarchy and the functions of each position.

Observe the company culture. A panel interview is an excellent opportunity to see how your potential co-workers interact with each other, both verbally and nonverbally. By paying attention, you can learn about their style of communication and their hierarchy. You can also pick up on how many hours the panelists work a week, if they have time for hobbies and if they meet with each other in their spare time.

Keep your confidence. Remember that this panel selected you for the interview and they’re already interested in your previous work experience, skills and abilities. Think of this as an opportunity to meet more people in the company.

Make each panel member feel important. Greet, make eye contact, and thank everyone. Also, be prepared to ask questions to the panel members and take note of their opinions.

Jorie Scholnik will graduate from the University of Florida this week with her master’s degree in counseling and her specialist’s degree in education. She has been interning seasonally at the Protocol School of Palm Beach since June 2006.

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