Monday, January 14, 2013

Top Tips for Preparing for a Panel Interview

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Most people find any interviews, let alone a panel interview a daunting prospect and there are very few people who enjoy the process. However, do not let this put you off; you can still prepare yourself as well as possible to face this challenge.

In today's job market most interviews are conducted by more than one person to ensure fair-play and equality, therefore, preparation for a panel interview is no different to any other interview preparation and indeed, it is all about preparation!

There are a number of things you can do to prepare yourself for a panel interview and listed below are a few of the top tips.

• Try to establish how many people are on the panel prior to interview and their role in the organisation. This information should be accessible from the Human Resource department but is also often included on the paperwork you receive inviting you to interview. Having prior knowledge of panel members and their role in the organisation enables you to prepare in such a way so that during the interview you can address your question to the relevant person by name.

• Do your research on the job. Try to talk to the named person on the advert so that you can gain a better understanding of the role. If you can make an informal visit, great. You can then use this information during your panel interview.

• When preparing your answers, look to highlight your skills and abilities in relation to the role, pulling on your strengths and remember the interview is your opportunity to demonstrate your excellent communication skills.

• Practice asking yourself questions and then answering them pulling out relevant information in relation to that question. Remember to answer the question asked and keep checking that your answers make sense in relation to the question. If possible, get some friends to act as a panel so that you can practice answering the question, making eye contact with each member of the panel. Try to use the name of the panel member who has asked the question at the start and finish of your answer.

• Practice speaking slowly and clearly, taking your time to ensure you are understood. Practice breathing and perhaps counting to five before answering a question so that you can compose yourself and steady your nerves.

• Practice using relevant examples of your previous work or skills to demonstrate what it is you can bring to the position applied for. Often it is worth trying to think of your answer from the panelist's point of view. Let's say the panelist asking the question is from Finance, try to incorporate an aspect of Finance in your answer. If you can practice linking your answers also, this is even better. For example, "To expand on my answer to Paul, I have also worked in..." This will demonstrate to the panel that you have been listening and that you have the ability to link themes.

• Pull together a number of questions that can be addressed to different panel members in relation to their role in the organisation. For example, you could address a question about staff management responsibilities to Human Resources or the line manager. This way you can demonstrate that you are confident asking questions and that you have done your homework in relation to the role.
These are a few tips to help you prepare for a panel interview and this list is by no means exhaustive. However, if you follow these simple tips you should be well on your way to completing a successful panel interview.

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