Panel Interviews

Filed in From the Staff, Interviewing by on March 30, 2015

Hey Everyone!!!

I hope everyone has had a good start to their D-Term! I can’t believe it’s almost summer…even though it feels like winter will never end. I walked outside and there was snow today. It’s practically April and there is snow on the ground! Crazy!

So a topic that has been brought up to me recently is how to successfully master a panel interview. Panel interviews can be extremely intimidating but if you go into them with the right mindset, they can actually be extremely beneficial for both you and the employer. You’ll get to meet several people from the company, which can give you a better idea of what the company culture is like. You’ll also be able to see how the employees interact with each other, which can tell you a lot about the company itself. So while it may be intimidating, take it as an opportunity to learn more about the company.

That may be great and all, but you might be thinking – “Gianna, sure I see the benefits, but that doesn’t make me feel any better. It’s still intimidating…What should I do?”

Just recently I had a panel interview. It was a little unexpected, I walked into the conference room expecting to meet with one person and ended up seeing four people there. It kind of threw me at first, but I remember thinking “I’m glad I have extra resumes.” But I think it ended up going pretty well. I hope so anyways.

The key to mastering the panel interview is to think about the following points:

  1. Research the Panel Beforehand – Who is going to be there? What positions do they have? Find something (a skill/experience) that you can connect with for each person. For example, one person may have been an intern at the company and you are applying for a similar intern position. GREAT connection!
  2. Have a Conversation – In a one-on-one interview, you typically aim to have a conversation with the employer. In a panel interview, you should try to do the same thing. It’s often people’s first instinct to feel like they need to conduct a panel interview like a presentation. But it is extremely important to show your personality and relate to people on the panel. Try telling a story. This will help you avoid sounding robotic and scripted.
  3. Engage EVERYONE – This can often be the hardest part, but also the most important. Some panelists may be outgoing and friendly, while others could be more quiet and stoic. Give the same attention, eye contact, and enthusiasm to each person. You never know who has the most influence in the decision…
  4. Ask Everyone a Question – Using your research and information from your interview, pinpoint questions to ask each individual. If someone has been at the company for 15 years, they would be a good person to ask, “Why have you stayed with the company?” Who would be the person you directly report to – ask “What qualities are you looking for in an intern?” You have them all there in the room at once, you’ll get many different perspectives. Which is AWESOME!

Sorry for the long post but I hope this helps! As always feel free to send me any questions you might have!

<3 Gianna

About the Author ()

Hey everyone! My name is Gianna Terravecchia and I am currently a senior here at WPI majoring in Chemical Engineering. A few of my favorites include Italian food, ice cream, the color purple, and penguins. I am a Senior Peer Advisor here at the CDC and I am here to help you in any way I can!

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