Interviews can be daunting at the best of times but when faced with a panel of people in front of you, it can be an intimidating setting. There are many types of interviews that you may have to go though before a face-to-face meeting with your potential employer such as a telephone or video interview or even an online psychometric test.
In fact, according to the latest TGP trends survey, 42% of employers will ask applicants to take an online ability/technical test as part of their screening process. This was second only to telephone interviews which 46% of employers said were part of their prescreening process.
Once the initial screening is done, it’s then time for the face-to-face element of the application. Competence based interviews is the method used most by employers with 69% of them using them as part of their interview process. However, the second most popular method is panel-based interviews with 57% of graduate employers using them as a way of assessment. This has increased significantly from last year where only 34% of employers used panel interviews.
Panel interviews are now something that graduates must prepare for with them becoming more frequent. The companies surveyed as part of the graduate recruitment trends survey varied in size so it’s not as easy as thinking a bigger company are likely to employ the panel interview as they have more man power. The bigger the company, the busier it is so there’s no guarantee that the bigger employers can delegate time to panel based interviews. Smaller employers may not have the man power for group interviews, but smaller teams will want to ensure that they are hiring the right personality so may be prepared to go down the panel interview route to make sure every team member approves of the hiring.
In terms of preparation, you should not diverge too much for how you would prepare for a one-on-one interview. All the research you will have done will still be essential and you will more than likely be asked the questions you prepared for. Handling any nerves will be your biggest obstacle.
Try and focus on four essentials during the interview. This will help to focus your mind and steady your nerves (believe).
Concentrate on speaking clearly – You will be speaking to three or more people so it’s important that everyone in the room can hear you and understand the points you are making.
Keep eye contact – This is true of one-on-one interviews, but it can be confusing who to look at when there are multipipe people listening to your answers. It’s important that you make eye contact with the individual who asked you the question but don’t forget the other people in the room. Make sure you try and look at everyone during your answer, even if it’s a passing glance, while focusing the main bulk of your attention on the person who last addressed you.
Maintain good and confident posture – With more than one person interviewing you it’s more likely that someone will be aware of something small such as posture. Sit up straight, place your hands on the desk in front of you and try not to over gesticulate. Talking with your hands is useful to back up your point but try not to wave around and flail, it can distract from the answer you are giving.
Remain calm – Interviews are as much about bringing out a person’s personality as finding out about their skills and competencies. Be yourself and put your own stamp on your answers. Many people will rehearse answers they think the employer wants to hear but if your answer is honest and backed up by research, you will definitely stand out.