A panel interview might seem intimidating because you have to meet with so many interviewers at the same time. However, they do not have to be scary.
Knowing what to expect—and preparing accordingly—can help you feel confident.
Read on to find out exactly what a panel interview is and how to respond if you're invited to one. Plus, review sample interview questions and get tips on how to prepare for the panel. There is also an example of a panel interview invitation via email.
What is a Panel Interview?
Panel interviews are conducted by a group of two or more interviewers. Typically, you'll be in a room with several people who work at the company—these interviewers make up the panel. In some cases, the panel will ask questions to multiple candidates at the same time.
Most likely, each interviewer in the panel will ask you at least one question. If there are multiple job seekers, the interviewers might ask each applicant one question at a time.
How to Respond to a Panel Interview Invitation
When you receive an invitation to a panel interview, respond right away if they ask you to confirm your availability.
If you absolutely cannot attend, contact them immediately and request an alternative date and time. If you have any questions about the interview, call the office to ask. Be sure to use whatever contact number or email address they have given you.
When preparing for a panel interview, be sure to do some research on both the company and the individual interviewers.
You should know their roles within the company and have at least one question prepared for each person. If the company has not supplied details on all interviewers, you can politely ask for a list of everyone you'll meet, along with their job titles.
The day or two before the interview, you may also want to confirm the job interview. Call the office to confirm the time and date. You may also want to confirm the location, who you will be meeting with, and how to get there.
Panel Interview Invitation Example
The following is an example of an email inviting a job seeker to an interview by a panel.
Panel Interview Email Invitation Example
Subject Line of Email Message: Associate Director Interview
Dear Jane Doe,
Thank you for applying for the position of Associate Director of Simsbury Town Library.
We are pleased to invite you to participate in a panel interview.
The details are as follows:
Date: Tuesday, May 1
Time: 10 AM
Location: Simsbury Town Library
1 Park Drive, Simsbury, CT
This will be a panel interview conducted by:
- William Morse, Director of Simsbury Town Library
- Arlene Moriarty, Director of Human Resources
- Mary Beth Larsson, President, Simsbury Town Library Board of Trustees
When you arrive, please ask at the front desk for Irene Trachtenberg, and I will escort you to our conference room for your panel interview. We anticipate that the interview will last 45 minutes.
Please call (860-555-2043) or email me to confirm your interview or to reschedule if necessary.
We look forward to meeting with you.
How to Perform Well During a Panel Interview
As with all interviews, preparation is key. If you get invited to a panel interview, try to find out who will be present. Look up interviewers on LinkedIn, so you have some familiarity with their role and responsibilities at the company.
Try to engage with all interviewers, and don't just focus on the most outgoing participant.
You don't know who's input will be important in the hiring decision. Also, you can presume everyone is in the room because their opinion is important.
While one of the reasons companies hold panel interviews is to save time, another is to understand how candidates will operate in group situations. To that end, be prepared for fast-paced questions, cross-talk from interviewers, follow-up questions, and for your interviewers to potentially have different opinions and perspectives from each other. As is true so often for interviews, it's helpful to try to think of it more as a conversation, rather than a q-and-a session.
Panel Interview Questions
Interviewers typically ask a mix of behavioral and situational questions, as well as questions about the candidate's personality and career goals. Below are some common panel interview questions:
- Tell me about yourself.
- Where do you see yourself in three to five years?
- What is your greatest strength?
- What is your greatest weakness?
- Why do you want to work here?
- How would a colleague describe you?
- How are you at handling tight deadlines for projects where there is minimal supervision?
- Imagine that you are introducing a new policy to your co-workers or employees, and you are facing opposition. How would you handle it?
- Describe a time when you were working on a team project, and there was a conflict in the group. How did you handle the situation?
- Tell us about an occasion when you had to deal with a difficult client. How did you prevent the situation from escalating?
- What is the worst mistake you made in your previous position? How did you remediate this?
- Give an example of a time when you had to explain a complex issue to someone who was unfamiliar with the topic.
Follow Up After the Interview
After the interview, it's important to send a thank-you email or note to everyone who participated in the interview.
Here's how to say thank you for a group interview, with sample emails you can use to write your own follow-up message.