In a panel interview or interview by committee you will meet with several interviewers simultaneously in the same room. You and other candidates will receive similar questions from the different perspectives of the people in the room. These interviews tend to be more formal setting. These types of job interviews are often considered a more time-efficient for the employer.
These types of interviews have become popular with big corporate companies as they use them in an attempt to ensure that candidates are properly qualified before employment. Interviews conducted by a panel are considered more valid as a number of different perspectives are taken into consideration when making the hiring decision.
Individual panel members will take turns to ask questions relevant to their function and perspective and after the interview the candidates’ merits and demerits will be discussed and compared to other candidates.
These types of interview also save time for the candidate as they generally have to go to one such interview or maximum of two as opposed to multiple rounds of one to one interviews. These interviews are however more stressful for the candidate as the interview questions are fired more rapidly from different people in the room. Employers also use panel interviews to determine how well the candidate interacts with a diverse range of individuals.
The candidate should, as for all interviews, be prepared. Preparation will be a little more intense as there are more interviewers with different functions and different perspectives. Usually the panel has a mixture of relevant specialists who may have different roles in the interview i.e. technical person to check your technical abilities and HR person to check on your cultural fit to the organisation. Try and find out will be in the interview and their function and background to assist you with preparation. This interview tends to be more detailed, thorough and rigorous than a one-to-one interview and it is therefore especially important that you are prepared and very familiar with your CV before going into a panel.
A good way to handle a panel of interviewers is to take each panel member and their question on one at a time. Try remembering and using peoples’ names in the panel interview. People like to hear their names during a conversation and its shows you are thinking. When addressing individuals in a panel interview maintain eye contact with each person with special attention to the individual who asked the question. Watch out for the good cop and bad cop routine.
Make notes of each individual panel members concerns and when sending a separate thank you note to each panel member after the interview consider addressing such concerns briefly in that letter.