How can you keep your cool during a Panel Interview?


panel interview is an interview in which an applicant answers questions from a bunch of people who then take the decision. HRs use panel interviews to gain perspective from other people in the organisation and occasionally those outside the organisation.

Panel interviews can be really nerve-wrecking. All those eyes are on you! How can you keep your cool and put your best foot forward? This article provides five tips on how to relax yourself and put your best foot forward in the panel interview:

1: Research.

There are many avenues for research prior to attending an interview. Ideally, much of the research can be undertaken even before you have submitted your application. The balance can be undertaken when you know with whom you will be interviewed.

Your research may begin by finding out as much as you can about the company as well as the industry in which it operates. You want to know the key facts about the company, as well as any potential problems it might face. You will also want to identify what opportunities the company might be interested to tap into. The deeper you engage in research on the company and the industry it operates in, the greater your ability to identify potential problems and opportunities for that company. From there, you can consider how your unique set of KSAs (knowledge, skills and abilities) can be utilised to help the company overcome its problems and tap into potential opportunities. This component of your research can be undertaken before you even submit your application. The discussion you may have arising from this component of your research will enable you to really shine in the interview.

Once you have been formally invited for an interview, you can ask for the names of each member of the interview panel. With this information to hand, you are in a position to Google interviewers by name with a view to identifying any interests you may share. You may also want to identify accomplishments, publications and/or advocacy panel members may have been involved in. You can drill down into the aspects you most admire about each panel member. The knowledge you pick up about each panel member will go a long way to building a bridge between yourself and them.

2: Rehearse

Rehearse the interview with a trusted friend, family member or career counsellor. Doing so will give you a great deal of feedback on how you come across in an interview setting. Knowing how you come across, and having the opportunity to hone your answers will go a long way to helping you remain calm in the interview setting.

Another way of honing your interview skills is by applying for roles that you have no intention of accepting (i.e., “practice interviews”). In so doing, you can focus on developing your interview technique in a safe setting: Safe, in the sense that you do not care whether or not you are offered the role. The skills you develop by attending practice interviews will translate to being more comfortably relaxed and able to put your best foot forward at those crucial interviews.

3: Prepare

Prepare your outfit, materials and accessories the night before. In this way, you will feel more calm and relaxed, knowing that everything you need is ready to go. Whatever you need to bring with you on the day can be carried on your left side, leaving your right hand free to shake hands upon arrival. Doing so will leave you feeling organised and professional and will make a positive first impression.

4: Calm and Relax Yourself

It is useful to take the time to do some quiet deep breathing before you go into the interview itself. If you are travelling on public transport, you can do this while you travel. If you are driving, you can do so after you have parked your car safely. All you need to do is place your hands on your lap and do some quiet deep breathing for 5-10 minutes. If you have the time, you will find it even more beneficial to do it for 20 minutes. With each deep breath you take, your whole body receives extra oxygen where it counts. You will find that you feel more relaxed, calm, centred, empowered, invigorated and energised. You will also feel like the strongest and most confident version of yourself. That feeling will carry with you into the interview room.

5: Smile

You will find it helpful to smile at everyone you meet: The receptionist, each staff member with whom you cross paths, any contractors or clients that are onsite, the person who escorts you to the interview room, as well as each member of the interview panel. You will find that the more you smile, the more smiles come back to you. And, the more smiles that come back to you, the more relaxed and collegial the interview will feel like. So, be sure to smile often. At the very least, you can smile before answering each interview question.

At the end of the day, you can feel calm and relaxed, no matter how many people are interviewing you for that highly coveted position.

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