Tuesday, May 17, 2016 by julie
Companies want to hire and on-board more efficiently. The competition for talent has gained momentum over the last 18 months as unemployment decreases, companies expand, and the number of retirements increase. Neither the hiring companies nor the interviewing talent have a lot of available time to interview.
Initial interviews are often done over the phone with either a human resource professional or hiring authority. The goals of the phone interview are primarily to introduce the company and opportunity, gain an impression of the applicant’s soft skills, review employment history, and validate a few key requirements of the opportunity.
If all goes well, then the applicant is invited to visit the company and more often will have a group or panel interview. The reason most employers conduct group interviews is to save time and be more efficient. Panel interviews allow the hiring team to gather impressions all at once, eliminate the annoyance of answering the same question over and over, and provide better insight on the opportunity and culture.
From the candidate’s perspective, panel interviews can be intimidating and there are a few core tenants that will help this kind of format. Before you interview, ask the company to provide names and titles of people that you will meet and conduct research on each of the panel members to best understand the potential future relationship (e.g. superior, peer, subordinate). Think of experiences you can share and questions you might want to ask specific panel members.
Upon starting the interview, introduce yourself to each panel member. This will help to break the ice and establish a connection. While fielding questions, avoid staring at a single person, smile, and open your gaze to the others in the room. Even though you will be asked questions, be premeditated with examples of experience, knowledge, and abilities that showcase the appropriateness of your candidacy for the opportunity.
Not all panel members are equal. Everyone is looking at the role to be filled from a different perspective. The goal is to identify the core requirements of the role and the opportunities to make a contribution. The candidate that will be hired is someone the group feels will meet or exceed their expectations. Asking insightful questions shows interest in the opportunity and can lead to conversations and discussions that will allow you to illustrate past experiences and provide examples that relate to the role, panel members, and the opportunities to make a difference.