How To Prepare For Panel Interviews

updated on 17 June 2022

Interviews are often nerve-wracking.πŸ˜– Sweaty palms and scattered thoughts are not uncommon before you go in for an interview with someone from your dream company. Although most interviewers from FAANG and top tech companies ensure the candidates are comfortable before starting a discussion, some nervousness is inevitable.

Imagine, if you were supposed to interview with not just one but two, or three, or four people from the company as your recruiters! Yes, that is possible.

Several FAANG and top tech companies organize panel interviews for candidates. Not only do panel interviews help speed up the process for the employer, but it also helps them assess how a candidate responds in a group setting. 

What Is A Panel Interview? πŸ‘©β€πŸ’»πŸ€πŸ‘©β€πŸ’ΌπŸ§‘β€πŸ’ΌπŸ‘¨β€πŸ’Ό

A panel interview is just like any other job interview, but with more interviewers. They generally consist of two or more interviewers, sometimes all from different departments. The main purpose of panel interviews is to understand how candidates cope with demanding situations, also saving time for the potential employer to understand the candidate's fit for the role from the viewpoint of managers from different departments.

In panel interviews, despite having multiple interviewers, sometimes only one person asks questions while the others observe.
In panel interviews, despite having multiple interviewers, sometimes only one person asks questions while the others observe.

An important point to note here is that panel interviews are different from group interviews. Group interviews are conducted with multiple candidates interviewing for the same position simultaneously, whereas panel interviews only involve interviewing one candidate with multiple interviewers.

Sounds startling? The good thing is that, like everything else, with the right preparation, you can ace your panel interviews like a STAR πŸ’« 

How To Prepare For A Panel Interview? πŸ“

Here are a few tips to help you succeed in your next panel interview:

1. Find out the names of your interviewers.

This can be a great starting point to ensure you're prepared for a panel interview. Walking into a room of individuals without knowing anything about them can make anyone lose their confidence. To ensure you don't end up in that situation, find out the names of your interviewers from the panel. 

You can politely ask your point of contact from the company to provide you with names or information about the panel. Don't forget to mention that the information will help you come better prepared for the interview. Most FAANG and top companies would be happy to share this information. 

Handy Tip: If the company cannot provide you with the interviewers' names, fret not! You can still ace your interview by paying a little more attention at the start of the interview. When you walk into the room, greet all interviewers and memorize their names. Take a mental note of who belongs to which department, and ensure you're addressing the answers from their viewpoint for different questions.

2. Research about the interviewers, their departments and the company.

Most candidates underestimate the importance of doing their homework before going in for an interview, which could cost you a job offer! 

If you want to stand out from other candidates interviewing for the position, make sure you know everything you can find out about your interviewers, their teams, and the company. 

A few ways to do it are:

  • Go through your interviewers' LinkedIn profiles. Learn about their career progression within the company and the departments/teams they've worked with.
  • Research about the teams or departments your interviewers belong to. How does that department contribute to the company overall? How often will you be collaborating with members/managers of that team? What key skills would be to interact with the department successfully?
  • Understand the company's products and values inside out. According to a study, 43 per cent of HR professionals believe cultural fit is the most critical quality job seekers can have during hiring. Go through their website and the latest news to be fully prepared.
  • Interact with someone who has recently interviewed for the company and joined them. Learn more about the panel interview from their experience and what worked best for them during the interview. They will also be able to help you understand what elements interviewers look for in the discussion and how to prepare for them.

A bit of effort in having all of this information beforehand can boost your confidence 10x during the panel interview.

3. Prepare for the interview keeping in mind your interviewers' roles.

Unlike your one-on-one interviews, preparing for panel interviews would require you to go the extra mile.

Prepare your answers keeping in mind your association with different teams in the company. Since your interviewers will be from various departments, they will assess your candidature differently. 

Tip: You can take notes during the interview. Just ask your interviewers whether they’re okay with it before you do so. This can leave a positive impact on the panel.
Tip: You can take notes during the interview. Just ask your interviewers whether they’re okay with it before you do so. This can leave a positive impact on the panel.

Every time you answer a question, start with a specific aspect of the situation and then address all interviewers highlighting how you would deal with the same situation differently, keeping in mind the needs of their department. This does not mean you need to highlight it for different teams explicitly; just touch upon these aspects in your answers to convey that you're aware of the different scenarios. 

As you move forward during the interview, assess what appeals most to each interviewer and try to give answers that appeal to them. All-round answers during panel interviews can make or break your chances of progressing forward in the hiring process.

Also Read: How to use the STAR method to ace your FAANG interview

4. Your body language says a lot about you!

Building a rapport with each interviewer in the panel is crucial for panel interviews. Your body language, maintaining eye contact, and how you engage in conversation with each of them can impact the impression you leave behind after the interview. 

Certain interviewers may be in senior positions or may take up the majority of questions. Regardless, maintain equal eye contact with the entire panel to show you understand how to keep everyone together during conversations, even if it is just one or two people interacting.

Your body language should be calm and confident throughout the interview. You might come across questions that may challenge your ability to do specific tasks a certain way, but they're only to test how you respond. Maintain a fine balance between confidence and politeness throughout. Stay composed, take pauses before answering, control the pace of the interview, and make eye contact with the interviewers as you interact. 

5. Be prepared with your questions for the panel.

Asking the right questions towards the end of the interview can help you learn a lot about your role, your team, and the company.

Have excellent and meaningful questions prepared for the panel based on your research about their career progression within the company and seniority. This could be your chance to learn about your long-term progress within the company from the viewpoints of different managers across teams and seniority levels. 

Although asking questions during interviews may seem insignificant at times, it tells a lot about you as a professional and can contribute to how the panel perceives your overall performance.

Bonus Tip: Don't forget to send a personalized thank-you email to center interviewers after the interview. This can help you stay at the top of their mind.

Conclusion πŸ’―

Most people love being the center of attention in any room, but that's not how candidates feel during panel interviews. An optimistic attitude, a lot of research, and consistent practice can unlock your door to the next step of the hiring process in your dream company. Panel interviews aren't worth dreading; instead, look at them as an opportunity to meet the finest professionals of your dream company who might be your future colleagues if you land the offer. 

Not feeling confident about your next panel interview? Reach out to us, and we'll connect you with an industry professional from one of the FAANG or top tech companies for mock interviews. There are a lot of success stories of candidates making it through panel interviews triumphantly, and yours could be next! πŸš€

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