The panel interview: 6 tips for before, during, and after

So, you’ve been invited to a panel job interview. No need to panic—these simple tips can help you ace even the most intimidating meeting.

Before the interview

  1. Ask how long the interview will be and who will be on the panel. It helps to know both of these in advance: knowing how long the interview will last gives you an idea of how many questions and how much back-and-forth you can expect. And knowing who will be on the panel gives you a chance to do some research . . . which brings you to Tip #2.
  1. Research your interviewers. Once you know who will be on the panel, you can find out their job functions and roles, so you know which aspects of your potential job they are most likely to be interested in. You can explore the company website, LinkedIn, or your own network to learn more about interviewers before you meet them. Once you know a little bit about your interviewers, you can prepare by practicing your answers to common interview questions.

During the interviewpanel interview

  1. Get everybody’s name. When the panel members are introduced, take the time to write down each person’s name.  Even if someone gives you their business card, jot down their name—the simple act of writing it down really will help you remember it. And if you write names down in order of how they are seated, then you can easily remind yourself of a name during the interview . . . which leads to Tip # 4.
  1. Speak directly to individuals, but also remember not to exclude other panel members. Sound complicated? It doesn’t have to be:  you can begin by making eye contact with the person asking the question, and then look around to the other members as you finish up your answer. And don’t get too stressed out by the mere fact of the panel set-up: you still want to brush up on and follow traditional interview tips.

After the interview

  1. Thank everybody promptly. Take the time to shake hands, make eye contact, and thank everybody, using their name.  This is also a great time to get business cards if you haven’t already . . . which will help you out when you get to Tip #6.
  2. Send each member a thank-you note. No, it’s not true that written thank-you notes are outdated. Send each person a brief, personal note thanking them for their time. Get more tips on thank-you notes.
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