What Is a Panel Interview? (With Tips and Example Questions)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published 20 July 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Interviewing for a job is a great opportunity to highlight your skills and strengths as a candidate and provide more information than your cover letter and resume may include on their own. Some companies may invite you to take part in a panel interview so you can meet several members of their team at once. If you're applying for a new job, then you may benefit from learning how to prepare for a panel interview.
In this article, we explain what is a panel interview, share tips to help you succeed in one and provide sample answers to six common questions interviewers may ask you.
What is a panel interview?
A panel interview takes place when a candidate meets with multiple members of a hiring team to discuss a job opportunity. Some people who may take part in a panel interview include your potential supervisor, the owner of the company, a human resources representative or other key decision-makers. Hiring managers may choose to conduct panel interviews for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common reasons to host a panel interview include:
Convenience: scheduling a panel interview can make it easy for several members of the organisation to meet with candidates and offer their input. This often saves time and is more convenient than scheduling a series of one-on-one interviews.
Ability to assess teamwork skills: hiring managers may use panel interviews to assess how well a candidate performs in a group setting. This can be a great opportunity to highlight your teamwork and collaboration skills.
Opportunity to challenge candidates: a panel interview may also challenge candidates more than a typical interview, which can help hiring managers determine how well you work under pressure. It can also help you highlight your adaptability, quick thinking and interpersonal skills.
How to succeed in a panel interview with a potential employer
Here are some actions that can help you build your confidence and impress potential employers during your next panel interview:
1. Research your interviewers and the company
To prepare for your interview, take the time to research each member of the panel and the company they represent. Focus on learning key details, such as the name and job title of the panellists, their major accomplishments and important initiatives they've been in charge of. This can help you address each panel member by name during the interview, discuss topics that interest them and show you're invested in the job opportunity.
2. Bring enough materials for the entire panel
Before your interview, make sure you print enough copies of your resume and cover letter to distribute them to every member of the panel. You can also bring business cards if you have them available. Finally, make sure you pack a notebook and writing utensil so you can take notes during the interview. Having enough materials prepared for each member of the hiring team and yourself can show panellists you're an organised professional.
3. Engage with each interviewer individually
Throughout your panel interview, try to engage each interviewer equally so you can develop a rapport with them. Make eye contact when you speak with them and strive to give every panel member your attention when answering general questions. You can also show you're actively listening to each panel member by nodding your head in agreement when they are speaking and repeating parts of their questions in your answers. This can help you demonstrate your communication skills and teamwork abilities.
4. Take a conversational approach
To make your interview more enjoyable, take a conversational approach when speaking with the panellists. You can refer to exchanges from earlier in the interview or share your knowledge of the company to tie different questions and answers together in a way that feels natural. You may also ask the panellists questions throughout your interview instead of saving them for the end to create a back-and-forth exchange of ideas.
Pay attention to non-verbal cues by turning to face each interviewer when you speak with them and matching their reactions with your own when appropriate. For example, if an interviewer offers a light-hearted smile, return it with one of your own to show a mutual understanding.
5. Prepare thoughtful questions
Before your panel interview, take the time to develop a shortlist of questions that you can ask the panellists to learn more about the open job position and their company. You can also write down questions you think of throughout the interview if there are certain topics you want to revisit later on. While you should have some questions prepared for the end of the interview when panellists ask if there is anything else you would like to know, you can also ask questions earlier in the conversation if they are relevant. Some questions you may consider asking include:
What are the next steps in the hiring process?
What does success look like for this position?
How would you describe a typical workday for this position?
What is your favourite thing about working for your company?
How would you describe the work culture?
6. Follow up after the interview
After your panel interview, craft a professional follow-up email to thank the panellists for their time. You can reference something you discussed in the interview, remind them of one of your key strengths or career goals and tell them you look forward to hearing from them soon. This can help the panellists remember why you're an excellent candidate for the position and show that you're polite and professional. Try to send the email to the panellists within 48 hours of your interview and ensure you have the correct spelling of each of their names.
6 Panel interview example questions and answers
Hiring managers often ask behavioural and situational questions to learn about each candidate's personality, background, skill set, qualifications and career goals. Here are some common panel interview questions and examples of how to answer them:
Could you tell us about yourself?
Panellists may ask you to introduce yourself by sharing a bit about your professional background. This question can provide you with an excellent opportunity to demonstrate your skills and experience. Start with a short overview of your current job role. Then, briefly discuss your career journey and what your future goals are.
Example: "Currently, I am a senior account leader at a well-known marketing agency where I have worked for the last five years. I also have several years of experience working for a local news station and a PR firm where I managed accounts for clients from a wide variety of industries, including healthcare, consumer goods and entertainment. However, I'm looking for an opportunity to use my creative writing degree from ALU University to create content that can provide value to the organisation I work for and help them engage with their target audience."
Why are you the best candidate for this position?
If one of the interviewers asks you this question, consider how you can highlight your skills, qualifications and experience to differentiate yourself from other candidates. You might choose to share your past accomplishments or a unique attribute that makes you a strong candidate for the position.
Example: "Throughout my career as an electrical engineer, I've worked with clients from a wide variety of industries, so I'm comfortable repairing, maintaining and installing most electrical systems. This experience helps me quickly identify potential issues and develop effective solutions that save time and reduce costs. I also have four years of management experience as a project lead which has helped me hone my communication and strategic planning capabilities."
Can you tell us about a time when you worked on a large project with a team?
Panellists often ask this question to determine how well you collaborate with your co-workers. Try to include a specific example that highlights how you have used your teamwork capabilities to overcome a challenge in a previous role.
Example: "A few months ago, I collaborated with a leader from another department to create a strategic plan for a project both of our teams were working on. We worked together to assign roles, create a schedule, communicate with our employees and make adjustments as needed. Our ability to work together as a team helped us complete the project before the deadline and our customer was so pleased with the results that they recommended us to one of their partner agencies, which resulted in us signing a new client."
Do you have any questions about this role or our company?
This question is a great opportunity to show that you have done your research and are passionate about the job position. Refer to the questions you prepared in advance or ask a follow-up question about a topic you previously discussed during the interview.
Example: "I do, thank you for asking. Could you tell me more about what an average workday looks like for an administrative assistant at your company? I understand that the responsibilities for this role may change from one day to the next based on the company's needs and I am interested in learning more about the range of tasks that I might be responsible for if I am hired for this position."
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