Panel interviews can be really exciting. Really...they can! If you can get past the intimidation factor, and if you’re prepared, panel interviews can work in your favor.
Think about it this way: Employers want to see how well you perform with others under pressure. And this setup allow you to impress everyone at the same time, rather than having to convince each person individually in multiple rounds.
Plus, with many of your potential colleagues in the same room, it’s a better way to see what it would really be like to work there.
“Based on our 25+ years of hiring, managing, and consulting experience, we have found that organizations that use a team approach to interviewing and candidate selection tend to make much smarter hiring decisions than when decisions are made by individual managers based on one-on-one interviews,” according to a white paper by Gendreau Group, a revenue consulting firm.
So, how do you use panel interviews to your advantage without sweating bullets? That’s where CareerBliss comes in!
We spoke with many hiring managers who prefer the panel format and picked their brain about why they love this style of interviewing and what they’re hoping to see in a great candidate. Here's what we found:
Team Interviews Offer More Consistency and Impartiality
The whole interview process is so subjective--what can be considered a great answer to one boss might be a poor one to his colleague. “Having the evaluators observing and evaluating the same the candidate's answers simultaneously provides a better, more objective perception of the candidate,” says Pete Abilla, founder of shmula.com, a company that provides online training for Lean and Six Sigma.
“By so doing, from my experience, the hires from the panel interviews versus the rounds were a better fit and usually on boarded quicker and performed better.”
Immerse yourself into the team and make it hard for them to deny that you’d be a great addition.
Since everyone listens to your answers at once, there’s an opportunity to create an overall strong, positive vibe. In contrast, “in most one-on-one interviews, [interviewers are] often thinking about what you're going to ask next, rather than listening to the candidate's answer,” says Lou Adler of The Adler Group, a performance-based hiring company in a blog post personally written by him.
Highlight Your Biggest Asset: Impeccable Team Communication Skills
If they’re opting for a team interview, it’s safe to say they’re looking for a true team player.
“I like to do one interview with the candidate and four current employees (me, their product manager, and two teammates) to see how well they handle interacting with multiple people at once,” says Matt Miller, CTO of CyberCoders and co-founder of CareerBliss. “In our environment that is important!”
It’s crucial to be yourself. “Personality is a key ingredient to maintaining the team dynamic in our office,” says Jesse Pelayo, project manager at CyberCoders. “Of course, we measure competency (of which I leave to the engineering team), but I find competency has a threshold but it can always be improved through mentorship, group collaboration and personal learning.”
So, even if you don’t fully have high mastery of the tech skills, having great communication with the team and showing them how your values align can help you come out ahead of your competition.
6 Quick Tips to Ace Your Next Panel Interview
To help ensure that you highlight your awesome team building skills, keep in mind:
1. Aim to Build Rapport
It’s harder with multiple people, but more important than ever, to build rapport in the room. Ask each person a unique question. If they’re doing all the talking, that’s not a good sign!
2. Taking Notes is Important, But Do it Sparingly
Rather than keeping your head down, pick and choose the most pertinent notes to write down. Make eye contact with everyone for a full thought. “In the panel interviews I’ve witnessed, the candidate often sits in silence while the panelists furiously take notes," says Caroline Mclure, principal of consulting service ScoutRock to TLNT.com.
3. Mention an Interviewer’s Previous Point
Refer to a point someone else made earlier to prove you’re a great listener and give credit where it’s due. These are two key skills required of a great team player.
4. Practice with a Mock Panel
It’s a little more stressful having so many people to answer to, but that’s exactly the point.
“If the candidate avoids or evades either question, then it shows me a nervousness and insecurity that would give a glimpse as to how they handle stressful situations (e.g. interviews),” Pelayo says. So, practice with friends and family beforehand!
5. Organization is Key
Keep everyone’s names straight, and stay organized about who does what. Researching everyone beforehand is pivotal for this. LinkedIn is your best friend!