The Panel Interview: 5 Things You Should Know

The Panel Interview: 5 Things You Should Know

By: npope
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When you think of an “interview”, do you normally think of a one on one interview? That’s what I used to think of.  However, as a co-op student you might experience panel interviews.  Read on to find out what you should know before a panel interview. 

I have experienced panel interviews with as few as two interviewers to as many as FIVE interviewers.  As intimidating as a panel interview may sound, in my opinion it can actually be more enjoyable than your typical one on one interview, but I have also learned that there are some unique things that should be considered when going to a panel interview.  Here are 5 things to keep in mind for your next panel interview:

1) Eye contact:

I have a tendency to get a little TOO much in my own head during interviews and I worry.  Particularly I worry about the duration of time I spend looking my interviewer in the eye.  I do not want to terrify them with excessive and intense eye locking, but at the same time I want to convey I have confidence and eye contact is the way to do it.  The thing about panel interviews is that you have the opportunity to look each individual in the eye without having to worry about staring at one person too long.  Try and remember not talk to just one person, and scan the room to make eye contact with everyone when answering questions. 

2) There are more opportunities to laugh:

The group of people interviewing you typically know each other.  They work with each other and they laugh with each other.  In my experience, I have found that the interviewers themselves tend to be a little more relaxed and more likely to crack a joke when they have their co-workers with them.  This is also beneficial for you as the interviewee.  When the interviewer is relaxed, the interviewee tends to relax.

3) It is more conversational:

Depending on how many people are interviewing you, I have noticed that interviewers tend to take turns with asking questions.  I think that when interviewers do this, it makes the interview a little more dynamic and put me a little more at ease.

Whether you are being interviewed by one person or a group, an interview is always a conversation to get to know you better, and it’s no different during a panel interview.  This helps me with my nerves and I think it takes the pressure off a little. 

4) Some people might not say anything:

Again, depending on your interview set up, some people might not say anything and are there to simply take notes, and sometimes they will nod along with what you are saying.  For me, I think of that silent nod as a bit of an encouragement; however I suppose that is open to interpretation.  So do not be surprised if there is a silent and head bobbing note-taker!

 5) Prepare for the numbers:

Simply asking or finding out how many people you will be talking to can be very helpful.  You can mentally prepare for a crowd of three or a crowd of five and you can also prepare on a practical level so you know how many extra resumes you might want to print.

You can also prepare for the numbers by printing out a page or two of your portfolio to hand to each interviewer if it is a big group.  When I did my 5 person interview, I printed out the main two sheets of my portfolio, and boy was I glad I did!  The table we sat at was huge, and it would have been awkward for me to share my 1 portfolio with 5 people at once.  This is also a nice way to show your preparation.


Overall, panel interviews can be a little intimidating, but if you have an idea of what to expect, and you are mentally and practically prepared, it will be easier!  Get ready to impress your interviewers by being prepared and confident.  You can do it! 

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Posted on June 07, 2015