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Panel Interview - How You Would Facilitate It?

A friend recently asked if I could advise him on how to score in his panel interview. I thought of showing you what I had written to him and hear your thoughts on how you would conduct a panel interview.

The HR manager would structure the interview in such a way that every panel interviewer has an opportunity to gain relevant insights from the session in the shortest time possible. The usual means is via what is known as a competency-base interview. It is essentially a scenario-base interview whereby you will be asked to cite specific work examples to attend to the questions posed. For example, they may ask you about how you deal with conflicts among subordinates or team members. Or they may ask how you had exerted your influence in situation where you had no formal authority. Or they may ask you how you went about ensuring high buy-in for the project with the highest resistance. The idea behind this is to try to understand how you will perform based on how you had dealt with similar situations in the past.

If I were to do this, I would facilitate the interview in the following manner:

  1. Introduce the panel.
  2. Explain how I would be facilitating the session.
  3. Use the highlights in your resume to ask you about the greatest achievements or one project with the highest resistance. After this, I would ask you to describe the stakeholders involved in your description.
  4. Finally, I would ask 2-3 competency-based questions and probe deeply into your given response.

The internet will cough out tons of quick tips on how you should approach such an interview structure. Instead of me repeating what most would advise, I would like to offer three piece of advice.

  1. Be concise in your answers. Do not run on with your answers. Do allow the interviewers to ask questions if they would like you to describe a situation further. Do take note of the time you have and try to allow them to view the different merits that you can bring to the table.
  2. Preparation is key. I am not advocating that you head out to your local bookstore and purchase those 101 model interview questions and answers. Instead, I advocate preparing yourself by thinking through all the noteworthy projects or work experiences that you want to cite when appropriate. Although the questions posed may be varied, the aspects which interviewers are interested in knowing are in fact limited to a few areas. Follow common topics interviewers love to delve into: Project management, people management, stakeholder management, leadership style, etc.
  3. Relevance and impact ought to be the two criteria in deciding which examples to cite. Enough said.

What do you think on the above? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment box below. It will be also interesting to hear about your strategies in getting panel interviewers to be ‘on the same page’ and have them make hiring decision effectively.

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