Are you ready for some panel interview tips?
Please let me explain! A couple of years ago I got a tip from a past client that there was a job vacancy at his corporation.
It was a CEO executive assistant position. The job required a lot of translation and simultaneous interpretation.
The salary was pretty attractive, so I applied for the job.
With no suspense, I went through an intense interview with a group of interviewers. I was offered the job although I decided later not to take it. The 2-hour commute killed the deal.
But the lesson I learned from this experience is really worth sharing. A panel interview is a job interview that consists of more than 2 interviewers such as a human resource manager, department supervisor etc.
Although this usually happens in big corporations and government agencies for permanent jobs, it can be adopted by any job including contract jobs. So here are a few panel interview tips:
1- Be prepared
Collect all information possible about the company and the particular position. In my case, I got some insider tips from my past client. If you could get the interviewers’ business cards before you start, make sure you address them by their names.
Although some people don’t mind being addressed by their first names, I would recommend you always use Mr. or Ms. It’s better to be overly polite than too casual.
Don’t forget to send thank-you letters to all interviewers afterwards.
2- Dress and act properly
A common job interview dress code is to go business formal. Avoid flashy colors and strange designs and anything that is too revealing. Make sure you look professional.
You may also find a stick of gum or breath mint helps alleviate the butterflies before an interview. Just be sure to dispose of them before going up the elevator or entering that first door.
3- Be organized
The worst thing you can do at an interview is scrambling to find papers when others are looking at you. One of the most crucial panel interview tips is to have a neat and organized presentation.
Take plenty of copies of resume and put them in a nice firm folder so that you can give every interviewer a copy and leave yourself one to refer to.
4- Tackle one at a time
Different interviewers will look for different qualifications. Always keep to the question. Try to avoid long-winded answers. Also concentrate on your strength. If you do have to mention a weakness, make sure it’s a minor one. And always end up your conversation on a positive note.
Don’t be afraid to disagree with the interviewers, but do not engage in any heated argument. A gentle smile at the appropriate moment can assure your interviewer that you are serious but pleasant to work with.
By the same token, do not show favouritism by smiling more at one interviewer and being stern to the others. Most of your attention will be directed to the questioner, but don’t ignore those others who are listening, either.
One of the most overlooked panel interview tips is to expect the unexpected. Stay calm and don’t over-react. You are there to show what you’ve got, not to straighten things out.
5- Maintain eye contact with all interviewers
When an interviewer asks you a question, look at him and give your answer. Make sure you also make eye contact with other interviewers from time to time.
6- Prepare to show off your talent
You may be asked to do a sample translation or interpretation on the spot. Make sure to proofread your completed work to avoid any grammar mistakes and typos.
But a pre-set good impression can beat all the panel interview tips in the world! In my case, the panel had heard my name and had appreciated my work before the job interview.
It pays to get some insiders help – so keep an updated list of all your past and present clients. Send them a greeting or a note from time to time. You never know when you’re going to need them.
By the way this company is still a great client of mine.