This situation might see you having to deal with anywhere from a pair of interviewers to a complete panel – even in some cases a full committee. For such occasions, here are four key questions to help you cope professionally and perform at your best.
Have you assessed the situation beforehand?
It pays to check how your prospective employer or recruitment agency is going to interview you. The first thing that can really put you off is to walk into a room and only then discover that the interviewers are mob-handed! It’s also useful to know how long the interview is likely to last and, if possible, to find out who is on the panel. Their names are important, but finding out each person’s role within the organisation is even more so for your preparation.
How do you deal with each individual?
This is the real key to your success. An interview panel isn’t like a singing group, trying to create a perfect harmony. It’s made up of individuals, each looking at the interview from a slightly different viewpoint. This is where the roles they play within the organisation help you to understand the kind of selection criteria used or the style of answers each might be looking for. Some will be assessing your behaviours, attitudes and manner, others will be more interested in your technical know-how or job experience.
Do you appreciate there is a common group goal?
Given the previous question about individuality, it’s also worth remembering that they are united in their objective of finding the best candidate to fill any position. Therefore, you deal with each as an individual, but seek to find ways to reach the whole group as you answer.
Have you identified the leader of this group?
If you were talking to a senior management group, it’s easy to assume that the chief executive or general manager is the leader. In most circumstances this is true, but in a specific interview situation that person might defer to the head of department where the individual who is hired will be working. If you don’t know as the interview begins, watch for interaction as it progresses. For example, do most of the group look at one individual as you answer to see how they are reacting?
Being thrust into group or panel interviews suddenly could throw many folk. If you are prepared, or have a chance to assess any situation unexpectedly presented to you, then you have a better chance to shine and succeed.