Panel interviews are a common recruitment strategy used by companies looking to find the right hire with the best cultural fit. More often, we see companies opt in for panel interviews to streamline their hiring process. As an elite recruiting firm, Merito Group has coached hundreds of candidates through the panel interview process. As a recruiting firm in DC, we have seen the best and the worst of panel interviews, so we’ve put together our best tips to make your next interview a breeze.  

What does a traditional panel interview look like?  

Panel interviews typically involve a group of individuals from the company or organization conducting the interview, asking questions, and assessing the candidates’ responses. Traditionally, a panel interview will consist of one or two interviewers per interviewee. Merito Group has seen panel interviews with up to seven members on the panel, but we coach away from this process. Our job as a recruiting firm is to pair the best candidates with the right companies. That relationship is built on trust and trust starts with a positive experience. Panel interviews can be intimidating, so limiting the number of interviewers to a handful is preferred for a candidate. 

While panel interviews can be intimidating, they offer an excellent opportunity for candidates to display their skills, experience, and personality. As a candidate, it is an opportunity to show your social skills and ability to solve problems on the spot. As a company, you can more easily access the cultural fit of your candidates. If you have an interview coming up, make sure to read Merito Group’s interview guide! 

Here are some tips on how to handle a panel interview as a candidate: 


How To Prepare for Your Panel Interview

Be Prepared for Your Panel Interview 

With any interview, preparation is key. Research the company and the role you’re applying for and familiarize yourself with the job description and requirements. Pay attention to what the job interview says and reflect on scenarios that play to your strengths under their required skills. Practice answering common interview questions and have a few examples of past experiences that demonstrate your skills and suitability for the role. 

Allow your recruitment manager from Merito Group to help you prepare! We do this for a living, and our job is to help you get the job! Our staffing firm takes a comprehensive approach to find the right candidates and companies, and that starts with us diligently getting to know you and your skill set. As the best recruiting firm near you (regardless of where you are, thanks to this digital world), Merito Group is committed to helping you succeed! 

Stay Calm and Carry On!  

Stay calm and confident. It is natural to feel nervous in a panel interview, but it’s important to stay calm and composed. Take a deep breath before the interview and remind yourself that you have prepared well. Maintain eye contact with each panel member as you answer their questions and speak clearly and confidently. 

Most companies understand that interviewing is stressful and will be gracious when interviewing, if they are not or you don’t click with them, it’s possible you wouldn’t have been a good fit or enjoyed the job. Like any relationship, sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t, and that is okay! A recruiting firm’s true job is to be a matchmaker. Merito Group wants to put the right people in the right places.  


Be Personable 

Make personal connections. Most of the time, interviews will start with friendly conversations. Take advantage of this! If they are asking about your weekend, make sure you ask them back. Pay attention to what they are saying and reflect in your responses to relate back to them. (People love to talk about themselves!)  


A Beginning, a Middle, and an End 

Answer each question thoroughly and ask for clarification at the end, but also, make sure your answers have a beginning, a middle, and an end.  

Before going off the deep end and rambling all your answers, slow down and get to the point. If someone is interviewing, there is a job that needs to be done. Avoid wasting time and simply respond to what is being asked of you. Insert your personality when you can and have a clear answer. 

If you catch yourself rambling, simply find the most natural way to transition out of the question and ask for clarification.  


Pace Yourself and Reflect on Your Answers 

Reflect on your answers After answering a question, take a moment to reflect on your response. Ask yourself if you provided a clear and concise answer, and if there’s anything else you could add. This will demonstrate to the panel that you are thoughtful and take the interview process seriously. 

In panel interviews, the interviewers might have similar questions, so ask if they’d like to expand on anything or if there is something you missed in their initial question.  

“I hope that answers your questions, is there anything else you’d like to expand on or any examples I can give you to clarity?”  

Find your own version of this question and use it to your advantage. This will demonstrate to the panel that you are thoughtful and take the interview process seriously 


Just Have a Conversation 

Treat it like a conversation. Think of the panel interview as a conversation, not an interrogation. (Though we know sometimes it can feel that way!) Engage with the panel members, ask questions, and show your interest in the company and its role. This will help you build a rapport with the panel and demonstrate that you are a team player.  

Focus on one question at a time When answering questions in a panel interview, it’s easy to get distracted or overwhelmed. To avoid this, focus on one question at a time. Listen carefully to the question, take a moment to think about your response, and answer it directly before moving on to the next question. Think of your interview as a group party. When someone speaks to you at a social event to your eyeballs bounce around to any other person in the room, other than the one speaking to you or to you give eye contact and the correct body language to make that single person feel heard?  


Closing Statements  

In conclusion, handling a panel interview as a candidate can be challenging, but it’s an excellent opportunity to highlight your skills and experience. By preparing thoroughly, staying calm and confident, answering each question thoroughly, reflecting on your answers, and treating the interview like a conversation, you’ll be able to make a positive impression on the panel. Remember to focus on one question at a time and ask if you’ve answered thoroughly to show your commitment to the interview process. With these tips, you’ll be able to handle any panel interview with confidence and ease. 

Recruiting firms often use panel interviews as a candidate sourcing strategy to source candidates and select staffing for various job openings. By following the tips mentioned above, you’ll be able to ace your panel interview and stand out as a top candidate. So, be confident, stay calm, and remember to focus on one question at a time. Good luck! 


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