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Job guide: How to ace a panel interview

Job guide: How to ace a panel interview

A job seeker may be required to complete a panel interview as the first or second interview. Panel interviews can be daunting because all eyes are on the candidate across the table. Knowing what questions to expect and how to respond makes or breaks the interview process. Competition is fierce for available positions, and those who do research ahead of time will have the advantage.

Research the Panel

Find out who is on the panel in advance, and what functions they provide to the company. If possible, find an employee who already works with the company that can explain the company dynamics, personalities and roles.

Try to anticipate the types of questions the panel members will ask. If information is difficult to find before the interview, and the panel does not introduce their roles in the company during the introductions, ask. Throughout the interview, ask clarifying questions about roles and responsibilities to show interest and get conversation started.

Develop Questions for the Panel

Prepare a list of questions to ask the panel members about the company goals and current projects. Be prepared to discuss the skill set needed to succeed in the company.

If interviewing for a staff position, good questions to ask are:

  • What is a typical workday like?
  • What are the anticipated changes to products?
  • What challenges have been encountered in delivering products and services to customers?
  • What technical job duties are required for the job now, and into the future?
  • What type of technical training is available for staff?

If interviewing for a management position, ask the following questions:

  • What is the company’s management style?
  • Does the company have expansion planned?
  • What are the major challenges in staffing and resources?
  • Does the company have any major contractors working on projects and what is their role?
  • What is the budgeting process and the manager’s role in estimating costs?
  • What type of management training is in place?

Asking these types of in-depth questions shows interest, and leads to important discussions about the future of the company. Be sure to clarify if the question is directed for all panelists to answer, or specific to one panelist.

Wrapping up the Panel Interview

A good way to conclude the panel interview is to offer each individual on the panel an individualized parting comment. Too often, individuals on the panel do not feel a personal connection with the candidate because of the group setting. Thank the entire panel, then use each person’s first name, when giving closing remarks. For example, say:

“I’d like to thank you all today for giving me this opportunity.”
“Alex, I really enjoyed talking to you about the company’s future direction”
“Carlos, it was good to hear that manufacturing companies like yours are coming out of the recession.”

Wrapping up the panel interview properly leaves a good impression, and individuals on the panel will appreciate the time candidates take to remember the key points of the interview.

Easy to Fix Job Hunting Mistakes

It’s tough going these days, finding a job that is. Some of it is because job seekers still struggle with how to present themselves in the best way possible to interest a potential employer.

For job seekers who are scratching their heads and wondering what they might do better in order to be successful in finding and landing the perfect new job opportunity, there are two parts to this equation that they should consider. Are they not getting invited to the interview or are they being invited to the interview and not landing the job?

Why Job Seekers May Not Get an Interview

In this job market where there are many more qualified job seekers than there are jobs, it is important that candidates do everything possible to positively stand out from the competition. To do that – and this has been said a thousand times – it begins with a resume.

Without a doubt that means not only having a quality resume design, it means it should be free of spelling and grammar errors. In addition, it needs to highlight the key qualities, skills and experiences that the employer outlined in their job posting. And yet, as often as this information is repeated, there are always those job seekers who don’t follow these important steps.

Now that being said, first impressions are not just about a perfect resume. Believe it or not, recruiters and hiring managers have also indicated that another misstep that job seekers take when seeking employment is not considering the impression their funky answering machine message or odd email address makes. Yes, it is about the little things. And these two little things are easy to fix.

Consider re-recording the outgoing message on voicemail (even if only on a temporary basis) so that it is professional and to the point. As for the unique email address – studmuffin@yahoo.com – job seekers may want to consider setting up a separate email address just for the purposes of job hunting.

This may just seem like too much nitpicking, but when it comes to the world of business it’s all about impression. If job seekers don’t make a good one, they won’t get the interview or the job.

Why Job Seekers May Not Get the Job

The second part of the job hunting process occurs once job seekers are invited in for an interview. And the two largest areas of possible problems occur in presentation and preparation.

Presentation includes everything from how job seekers dress and act to how they interact with others (including the receptionist) as well as how they communicate their interest in the company and job opening.

Think of it as trying out for a role in a movie. Dress the part, act the part, be the part and win the part. People get cast all the time for showing up at the casting call embodying the character they want to play.

Preparation, on the other hand, has to do with familiarizing themselves with their own background as well as with the company’s background, practicing how to answer interview questions, developing good follow up questions, and remembering to send a follow-up thank-you letter.

Don’t walk into an interview cold without knowing something about the company and the job. And job seekers should make sure they are well-versed in their own background and experience. Rehearsal works for actors and it can work for job seekers, too.

Now that doesn’t mean candidates should have canned answers to interview questions, but it does mean they need to think about their work history and provide an explanation of how their past experience fits with this new role.

All this may seem redundant and old fashion, but getting a job is all about putting the proper foot forward with these easy fixes for job hunting mistakes.