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Job Interviews: Succeeding With Panel Interviews

These days, job interviews often consist of a panel of three-to-six interviewers.

A "team approach" to finding the best candidate can be beneficial for the employer. Each member brings a different set of skills, experience and judgment to the team, and can point out pros (and cons) about a candidate that the other interviewers might miss.

Panel interviews can also be beneficial for the job seekers. In a one-on-one interview you only have one shot at making the best impression. With a team doing the interviewing, your odds are increased. Say for example that Interviewer No. 1 had a bad experience with your past employer and unconsciously (or consciously) holds that against you, even though you had nothing to do with what happened. Interviewers No. 2, 3, and 4 have no such prejudices and so could sway the vote in your favor.

While panel interviews often seem more intimidating than one-on-one interviews, here are some steps you can take to ease your stress and ensure a better outcome.

1. Relax. Remember that being faced by a panel of strangers (versus one) is better for you.

2. Smile. Everyone in the room will smile back and you'll all get off to a great start.

3. Greet each interviewer individually. Shake hands with each person. Repeat their names as you are introduced (everyone likes to hear their own name, and it will help you to remember them).

4. Include everyone when answering questions. Face and make eye contact with the person who asks the question, but then extend your eye contact to everyone in the room. You're speaking to all of them, not just the person who asked the question.

5. Get their cards. Before leaving, get a business card from each person in the room. These will come in handy when it's time to send your thank-you notes. (If they don't have cards, ask for their names again if you don't remember them; jot them down. You can contact the HR person or receptionist later to get their email or mailing address.)

6. Send individual thank-you notes. Immediately send a thank-you not to each member of the interview panel, but don't make the notes identical. Make it more personal by pointing out something that person said or asked. For example, "When you asked me about my marketing experience, I forgot to mention that in addition to my three years as a marketing representative at ABC company, I also participated on several marketing focus groups while working at XYZ company."

Remember, a panel interview is an opportunity to shine in front of not just one person, but a whole team!

Bonnie Lowe is author of the popular Job Interview Success System and free information-packed ezine, "Career-Life Times." Find those and other powerful career-building resources and tips at her website:

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