Every employer interviews potential hires in a different way, but one of the most common is the team interview. Team interviews allow companies to get different perspectives on a job candidate to avoid making a bad hire, but they can be nerve-wracking, especially for an inexperienced job seeker. Luckily, panel interviews only feel different than a typical interview.
Beyond the typical research tips of dressing well, answering questions completely and asking questions after the interview, there are a few key steps to performing well in a team interview. Panel interviews can be intimidating, but they just require a little extra preparation and confidence to make you stand out to your potential coworkers.
Research Your Panel
It’s not enough to research the company before a team interview; you’ll also want to research your interviewers. When you arrange the interview, ask your hiring manager who you’ll be meeting and do some basic research on each. You don’t have to take this to a creepy level, but looking through the company staff pages and LinkedIn will help you understand each interviewer’s role within the company. With a little knowledge, you can show how you would complement the skills of team members and let them know you are already familiar with their work.
Once you’re in the interview room, make sure to learn the names of everyone on your panel. If you need, make a quick seating chart so you can remember names during the interview. During the interview, you can take notes to help you build questions or to spur your answers, but make sure you’re paying attention more than scribbling.
Be a Team Player
If you’re interviewing with a team, they will probably want to know what skills and personality you can bring to the team. Call interviewers by name, reference their work if possible and include your teamwork skills in your answers. Teamwork is an essential skill that most employers want, and the team interview is your opportunity to show how you’d fit into a team.
Don’t Focus on the Boss
Depending on the company, it’s not unlikely for a department manager or even the CEO to sit in during a team interview. It can be tempting to focus your answers on the highest-ranking interviewer, but make sure to spread your attention equally between the entire panel of interviewers. The CEO may play a role in choosing who to hire, but your potential teammates will also have a say in the decision. Panel interviews are typically behavioral interviews, so the team will want to see how you react to certain situations.
Walking into a panel interview can be intimidating, especially if you haven’t interviewed in a while or have never had a team interview. Though they are best known for placing people in jobs, staffing agencies like Incepture offer extra training and skills practice that can help prepare you for an interview. Staffing companies are trained to know what hiring managers want to hear, so they can help you frame your experience into compelling answers and coach you on how to respond to unexpected questions.
Practice the Interview
Even if you don’t utilize a staffing agency, there are plenty of ways to hone your interview skills before you enter the interview. Practice saying your answers out loud, either to a group of friends or a video recorder. When you’re practicing, make sure to shift your focus between your mock interviewers, just like you would during a real interview.
Close Out Strong
Once the interviewers have wrung you dry, it’s time for you to leave a final impression. Just like a regular interview, make sure to ask each team member a question and grab business cards from everyone at the table so you can thank them individually after the interview. The team interview is typically the step before a final interview, and it’s where you can truly stand out from the competition. Make sure to end the interview on a high note, and start preparing for a final interview.
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