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Nerves Be Gone: How to Succeed In A Panel Interview Setting

by Michael M DeSafey

posted in Business

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Preparing for an interview can be a nerve-racking experience for even the most seasoned professionals. Imagine, however, getting a call from a prospective employer requesting that you interview with several different managers-- in a panel style setting.
The visions of sitting across from a handful of high-powered executives shooting rapid fire questions at you start to dance through your mind. You might begin to wonder how to succeed in a panel interview setting and avoid succumbing to the pressure. Just like in a traditional interview setting, preparation is key. Below we will discuss some tips for a successful panel interview:
Dress for success. Even if you're applying for a role that will require you to visit rough or dirty places, a good rule of thumb is to dress as you would if you were visiting an important client.
Research the company. Know the company you're meeting with inside and out. Research their services and their project portfolio. Grab a company brochure and visit their website. Familiarize yourself with industry lingo.
Research the panelists. Know who you're going to be meeting with and what their roles are in the company. That way, you can prepare yourself for what types of questions might be asked. Check out their bios on the company website. Look them up on LinkedIn. Avoid putting yourself in the position of being interviewed by a panel of people that you know absolutely nothing about.
Engage each panelist. Before the interview begins, introduce yourself to each person on the panel. Collect business cards to help you remember their names. If cards aren't available, jot their names down on your notepad in the order that they're seated. During the interview, address each panelist by name. Make eye contact with everyone-- even when you're answering another panelists' question.
Showcase your adaptability. Discuss achievements that are relevant to the position at hand. Give examples of your own work, but relate it to what they build.
Connect questions. Referencing another panelists' question when answering a new question shows that you're an active listener who can make connections. It also allows you to reuse strong points from a previous answer and serves to draw the other panelists into the conversation.
Ask your own questions. Asking the panelists questions of your own shows that you're interested and engaged in the process. Consider questions like, "What do you think makes someone a successful project manager at this company?"
Follow up with everyone. Sure, it's a little bit of extra work, but it's worth the effort. Reach out to each panelist to thank them specifically for meeting with you. Make sure to personalize each note.
Finally, remember that panel interviews aren't an attempt at intimidation. In fact, most companies simply use them as a time-saving tactic. Rather than viewing them as a distressing experience, consider panel interviews an opportunity to showcase your unique strengths to several influential managers at one time.
About the Author: Michael DeSafey is a leading executive recruiter for professionals in the construction, engineering and environmental industries. He is currently the President of Webuild Staffing To learn more about Michael or to follow his Blog please visit
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