How to Handle a Panel Interview

April 6th, 2009 by lewis

Here’s a question that came up in one of my recent coaching sessions: “how do I handle a panel interview?”  Panel interviews consists of one interviewee and many interviewers.  Panel interviews are very common in federal government jobs.  For example, during the FBI Phase II Structured Interview, three interviewers ask questions of a single interviewee.  Some companies or organizations call it a board interview or less commonly, a group interview.

This shouldn’t be dramatically different from your typical one-on-one interview.  Here’s my advice on how to handle the panel interview:
  • Pretend you are talking to one person.  Address and make eye contact with the person who asked the question.  Many candidates make the mistake of focusing only on the most senior individual on the panel.
  • Address each person by name.  Panel interviews occur in more formal settings.  Addressing each person by name not only clarifies who you are talking to, but also shows respect for each person.
  • Don’t stress.  An interview is tough enough already; don’t let the panel interview add more anxiety.  Treat it like any other interview.  Focus on your content, and you’ll do fine.

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