How to Succeed in a Panel Interview

Written by Coursera • Updated on

This article defines panel interviews and offers tips on how to prepare for and succeed in a panel interview.

[Featured Image] A group of coworkers is hosting a panel interview.

What is a panel interview?

A panel interview is when two or more people interview you at the same time. Panel members can include potential supervisors, managers, team members, HR specialists, and other decision-makers within a company. 

Panel interviews are common in many industries, including higher education, health care and medicine, government, and the corporate world, especially for a senior position with a lot of demands and responsibilities. 

Employers typically use panel interviews for several reasons:

  • Multiple decision makers can meet you at once, which saves time in the hiring process.

  • Decision makers can form their own impressions of you, rather than getting secondhand information from a single interviewer.

  • Employers can observe how well you can engage everyone in the room and handle stressful situations. 

While the idea of facing more than one interviewer at once can feel nerve-wracking, it may be helpful to consider some of the advantages of this interview format. For example, by meeting with a whole panel, you can potentially consolidate multiple rounds of interviews into a single experience. You can also gather multiple perspectives on the position you’re applying for. In addition, you can observe the interactions among panel members and get a sense of the company culture.   

A panel interview is one of several types of interviews you might encounter during your job search. Here are some others:

In this video, we cover different types of interviews, including phone and video interviews, one-on-one interviews, panel interviews, and group interviews. 

How to prepare for a panel interview 

The first thing to do is to contact the employer and gather as much information as you can about the upcoming panel interview. Take notes on the following:

  • What are the names and roles of everyone who will be on the panel? 

  • What can you learn about each panel member through social media or the company’s website?

  • How might you address each member’s individual concerns during the interview?  

  • Where will the panel interview take place?

  • What topics will you cover in the group conversation? 

  • How will the interview be structured?  

  • What will you need to bring with you, such as extra copies of your resume and work samples?

  • Will you be making a presentation or performing a job-related task during the interview? 

Next, prepare for a panel interview much like you would a one-on-one interview. Research the company and reflect on how your qualifications match the ideal candidate for the position. Anticipate questions you may be asked and explore ways you can answer them. Practice using the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to formulate compelling stories about your prior experience. Prepare a list of questions to ask panel members so that you can gather the information you need to make a career decision, as well as demonstrate your interest in the position. 

Then, use all of your research and notes to prepare your presentation or job-related task. That way, you can tailor your material to the company’s mission and the requirements of the position, while leveraging your strengths. 

Rehearse your presentation in front of friends or family and implement their feedback. 

Read more: What to Wear to an Interview

Panel interviews: Tips for success

After completing the practical interview preparation steps, your next effort should be to master the emotional and interpersonal aspects of a panel interview. That way, you can present your qualifications to the entire panel with clarity and confidence.

Here are some tips: 

1. Acknowledge your emotions.

In the moments before the interview, acknowledge any feelings of nervousness about facing a group of decision-makers. This feeling is natural, even if you are confident about your qualifications and excited about the position you’re applying for. You might find it useful to do some deep breathing exercises or give your interview materials a final glance. 

2. Remember, this is your career decision, too.

Set an intention of making the right career decision for you, just as panel members will be focused on finding the right candidate. In the midst of presenting your qualifications, delivering a presentation, or performing a task, look for opportunities to ask your prepared questions. 

3. Make eye contact with each panel member.

After introducing yourself to each panel member, remember to make eye contact and speak clearly and deliberately. Give all decision-makers on the panel equal amounts of attention, even if one panel member acts as a facilitator and others are less talkative than others. 

4. Set the pace for the entire conversation. 

Pause after each question and consider how you’d like to answer it. Listen carefully to all panel members, and take notes of everything that will help you make the best career decision. Ask for clarification when needed. Take your time delivering answers. 

5. Prepare to follow up.

Before you leave, capture the contact information of each panel member and thank everyone for their time and interest.

Next steps

Remember to follow up with panel members after the interview to express your enthusiasm about the position and ask when you can expect updates on the hiring process. 

As you continue along your career path, continue practicing your interviewing skills with a course like Advanced Interviewing Techniques or Effective Professional Communication. Get access to these and some 7,000 other courses from top universities and companies with a subscription to Coursera Plus.

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