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There’s no denying it – panel interviews can be intimidating.

When you’re sitting across from three or four people interviewing for a government or public sector position, you may feel a bit like you are under a microscope.

However, it’s important to remember that the people interviewing you want you to succeed. More than anything, they want to find the right person for the role as soon as possible.

If you do have a panel interview on the horizon and are feeling nervous, here are some tips to maximise your chances of being successful.

Do your research

Find out who is on the interview panel before the big day and figure out which member of the panel is the ultimate hiring manager.

Do some research into who they are, how long they have been with the organisation and what their key achievements are. This will help you formulate questions for the interview and build rapport.

LinkedIn is a great resource for this kind of research.

Re-read the job description

Before the interview, re-read the job description to fully understand the selection criteria for the position. The selection criteria for the position will give you clues to the areas that the panel will concentrate their questions on, during the interview.

“Last of all, make sure you have real-life examples to be able to address those competency or behavioural interview questions,” says Executive Interview Coaching founder Richard Elstone.

Address the group, not the questioner

The interview questions are pre-prepared and each person is asking their question on behalf of the panel, so be sure to address the entire panel when answering questions, not just the person who posed it.

“You actually need to engage everyone on the panel when you’re answering the question,” says Richard.

“As a rule of thumb, spend 30% of the time looking at the person who asked you the question and 70% of the time looking at the other people. Try to get their heads nodding or some kind of gesture of acknowledgement.”

Watch your non-verbal communication

Remember the basics. Aside from maintaining eye contact with each panel member, be mindful of your overall body language.

Avoid slouching – sit straight but relaxed. Remember to smile and use your hands to reinforce what you’re saying.

“The aim is to keep everyone involved in the interview process,” says Richard.

Pre-prepare questions

Once the panel has finished asking you questions, they’re likely to check whether you have any questions.

“The worst thing you can say is ‘no’, as it looks like you’re not serious about the role,” says Richard. “You need to have some questions pre-prepared.”

Richard says you don’t need to prepare questions for each panel member necessarily. Rather ask general questions about the role, the objectives, outcomes or challenges of the position, the organisation, or even about the interview process.

What next?

At the end of the panel interview process, the top one or two candidates will generally meet with the hiring manager one-on-one and then a decision will be made. Sometimes this doesn’t happen. The panel including the hiring manager makes an instant decision on which candidate they will hire, pending satisfactory reference checks.

If you would prefer to meet with the hiring manager one-on-one before deciding whether to accept the role, don’t be afraid to ask to do so. “That’s perfectly acceptable,” says Richard.

Like to know more?

How well you prepare for an interview can be a deciding factor as to your performance in the interview and whether you receive an offer.

Give yourself the best shot at success – enlist the help of experts at Executive Interview Coaching, so that you feel confident going into the panel interview.

To find out more, get in touch today!


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