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Four Tips for Surviving a Panel Interview


Interviews are often a stressful process regardless of the number of years of work experience you have under your belt. What’s often a greater source of intimidation than the individual interview, however, is the panel interview. Increasingly, companies are turning to panel interviews in the interest of saving time and money. Panel interviews– which consist of multiple managers meeting with a candidate at the same time– can quickly turn disastrous if you’re not properly prepared. If you’re in the market for a finance job, consider the following tips for succeeding in a panel interview setting:

Know the players. Of course, researching the company you’re interviewing with in advance is a no-brainer. But did you know that you should research the people too? Make sure to ask the names and position titles of the managers you’ll be meeting with; this will aid in your research process. Then, check the company website for bios of the managers on the interview panel. Next, go a step further: visit the LinkedIn profiles of each manager. Learn what they do and how long they’ve been in their positions. Search for any commonalities: do you share an alma mater with any of the managers? Are you part of the same interest groups? Finding common ground can help create a sense of cohesiveness. Additionally, you’ll want to consider what’s likely to be important to each manager ahead of time; for example, if one of the managers on the panel is in marketing, she’ll have different priorities than the HR manager on the panel.

Pay attention to everyone. When you first arrive, make sure to greet every manager on the panel enthusiastically. Request a business card from each manager right away and place the cards in front of you in the order that the panel members are sitting. If business cards aren’t available, jot down names– in the appropriate order– on a notepad. That way, you won’t mix up the names and roles of the panel members. When answering questions, make eye contact with each person, even if one manager is dominating the conversation. Personalize your answers too; use the managers’ names and try to cater your answers based on the position of the inquiring panel member.

Ask questions. Remember: an interview isn’t an interrogation; it’s a conversation that should go both ways. The same is true for a panel interview. Thus, make sure you prepare thoughtful questions for the panel members ahead of time. Then, try to relate some of those questions to topics that were discussed during the interview. You don’t have to ask a question of every panel member, but avoid addressing all of your questions to the same manager.

Follow-up. It’s no secret that how a candidate follows up– or neglects to follow-up– can make or break him. The same is true for following up after a panel interview. Many candidates make the mistake of only following up with the manager they deem to be the most important or relevant member of the panel; this is a mistake. Each panel member took time out of his or her busy day to consider you as a potential employee; for that, you should express your gratitude individually. Sendpersonalized notes to each panel member within 24 hours of your interview. Use their names and reference points of conversation during the interview process. Avoid sending the same generic follow-up note to each panel member.

Are you looking for a finance position in the San Diego area? If so, contact us today to learn how we can help with your search. We are a boutique staffing firm specializing in finance, accounting, and administrative positions. We have temporary, temp-to-hire, and direct hire opportunities available and would welcome the opportunity to assist you with your search.