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"Aaron Wallis (and in particular Rob Scott) have been fantastic throughout the recruitment process and even a few months down the line, still continues to care."

Matthew White, Ogle Models

How to Wow at a Panel Interview

What is a panel interview?

A panel interview is a job interview format where multiple interviewers, typically from different departments or levels within a company, simultaneously assess a candidate. Candidates answer questions from the panel, allowing the company to gather diverse perspectives and make a more informed hiring decision.

Panel interviews, particularly at 2nd or final stage, can seem a daunting or intimidating experience. However, with the correct preparation and a positive mindset, the presence of more than one interviewer is often to your advantage; allowing you to play to your strengths, identify and respond to buying signals, and build rapport with all the decision-makers at once.

Panel interview preparation checklist

As with all interviews, the key to success is effective preparation. To help you navigate the panel interview with confidence and leave a lasting impression, here is our comprehensive preparation checklist:

1. Thorough Company Research

Before the interview, make sure to research the company thoroughly. Go beyond surface-level information and delve deep into the organization's history, culture, values, and recent developments. Review the job description forensically, paying close attention to the "must-have" criteria. Your goal is to connect these criteria to your skills and experiences effectively.

2. Scenario-Based Preparation

Prepare and rehearse scenarios from your career where you have demonstrated competency in the "must-have" criteria. These scenarios should be well-structured, showcasing your problem-solving skills, leadership abilities, and achievements. Keep these scenarios at the forefront of your mind, along with any positive outcomes, so you can readily draw upon them during the interview.

3. Seek Customer Insights

If possible, take the initiative to speak with customers of the business. Gather their views on the company's products or services, its competitiveness within the market, and what it's like to do business with the company. This valuable feedback can serve as a basis for your questions during the interview and highlight your proactive approach to understanding the company's dynamics.

4. Know Your Interviewers

Familiarize yourself with the names and positions of the members of the panel. Extensive research is your ally in this regard. You can research them individually via their LinkedIn profiles, "Meet the Team" pages on the company's website, general Google searches, blogs they may have written, and company and industry news items. Keep in mind that LinkedIn notifies users when their profiles are viewed. This effort showcases your thoroughness, professionalism, and commitment to the opportunity.

5. Thoughtful Questions for Control

Based on your research, prepare commercially aware questions about the organization, its plans for the future, and potential threats and opportunities. Tailor these questions to some extent, personalizing them to each panel member's role. For instance, you can ask questions like "Why do you work here?" or "In your opinion, why is this a great place to work?" Effective questioning not only demonstrates your interest but also provides you with an element of control in the meeting. It enables you to steer the conversation to areas in which you are confident.

Final Tips for Panel Interviews

  1. Stay Organized: Keep all your research, notes, and questions neatly organized in a folder or digital document. This will help you access information quickly during the interview and demonstrate your professionalism.

  2. Practice with a Mock Panel: If possible, arrange a mock panel interview with friends or mentors. This will allow you to practice answering questions in a panel setting and receive feedback on your performance.

  3. Stay Flexible: While you should have prepared scenarios and questions, be ready to adapt. Panel interviews often involve spontaneous follow-up questions or discussions. Stay flexible and pivot as needed.

  4. Follow Up: After the interview, send personalized thank-you emails to each panel member. Mention specific points from the interview that demonstrate your interest and enthusiasm for the role and the company.

  5. Reflect and Learn: Regardless of the interview outcome, take time to reflect on your performance. Identify areas where you excelled and areas where you can improve. Use this experience as a learning opportunity to enhance your interview skills for future opportunities.

  6. Stay Positive: Finally, maintain a positive attitude throughout the process. Panel interviews can be challenging, but they also provide a chance for you to shine. Believe in your abilities, stay confident, and let your passion for the role and the company shine through.

In conclusion, panel interviews may initially appear daunting, but with careful preparation and the right mindset, you can navigate them successfully. Use the comprehensive checklist provided earlier as your guide, and remember that a panel interview is not just an evaluation but an opportunity to demonstrate your qualifications and fit for the position. Approach it with confidence, and you'll increase your chances of leaving a lasting impression on the interviewers. Good luck!

Date published: 27th Feb 2024

A photo of Simon Bonner, Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment

About the author

Simon Bonner

With over 25 years in B2B sales and recruitment, Simon is an English Graduate from UEA and specialises in recruiting commercial and FMCG sales positions. Simon joined the sales recruitment industry in 1998 before progressing into field sales and returning to recruitment in 2015. As an Associate Director, Simon is well placed to understand the needs of clients and candidates' needs, having spent ten years selling electronic security and managing National Accounts within OEM manufacturers and distribution channels. An avid Luton Town football fan, Simon dotes on his two daughters and enjoys keeping fit, socialising, food and wine.

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Wanted to say a huge thank you to Simon Bonner who has just helped me secure my new role. He was one of the most professional recruiters I have ever worked with he was supportive really quick at replying and really put me at ease.

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Aaron Wallis (and in particular Rob Scott) have been fantastic throughout the recruitment process, and even a few months down the line, still continues to care. Rob clearly cares about each individual and has a wealth of knowledge and expertise, which shows in the work he does. Each candidate is not just a number, and the support received from Aaron Wallis has helped me get a career which I truly enjoy.

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