Rod Cornwell (International Director, Thomas International) gives expert video advice on: Who should I be addressing when answering?; What are the golden rules of surviving a panel interview? and more...
What is a panel interview?
Quite often you'll have an interview which is just you and one other person. However, sometimes, you have two, three, four, maybe even five people, all asking you questions at the same time. This is known as a panel interview.
What should I expect at a panel interview?
Panel interviews are extremely intimidating at times. The situation you are in is that you have 3, 4, maybe even 5 people who can all fire questions at you very, very quickly and you have to respond. It is a much, much tougher experience than just one on one. From the perspective of the interviewer or the panel, they have time to consider the answer that you've given to a question; they can come back to you, but they also have the luxury of waiting a little while, while other people ask other questions.
Am I in competition with other candidates?
The whole idea of a panel interview is to put the interviewee under a lot more pressure then just one on one. It doesn't necessarily mean you are competing with other people. What the panel of interviewers are trying to establish is how you cope under pretty extreme pressure and under rapid fire questions from over two or three - maybe five - people.
Who should I look at when entering the room?
When entering the room for a panel interview, you could have three, four, or maybe even five people sat alongside each other on a panel. The best thing you can do is look at each person individually, eye to eye, and greet them individually. That way you have their attention, you have their focus, as the interview starts.
Who should I look at when being addressed?
When the panel is feeding to you during an interview, whoever is addressing you is the person that you focus on. You don't need to worry about eye contact with other individuals. You need to focus on what that member of the panel is asking of you.
Who should I be addressing when answering?
When you're providing an answer to a specific question that one of the panel of interviewers has asked you, it's very, very important that you don't just isolate that individual when you give your answer. The rule here is that you apply sixty percent of your focus to the panel-member who asked the question in the first place and the remaining forty percent in terms of eye contract and voice projection goes to the other panel interviewers. The reason for this is you can often alienate other people on the panel if they don't feel that they're involved in the interview process.
What are the golden rules of surviving a panel interview?
Panel interviews can be very, very grueling and you can feel quite exhausted by the end of them. The main thing that you have to remember in order to survive when you're in a panel interview is engage with the entire panel, not just one specific person.