While in the past it was common to simply interview with a hiring manager and maybe a department head, in today’s climate, there’s a good chance you might interview with an entire panel of interviewers. Companies want a good cultural fit as much as someone with unique skills and experiences, so you may meet with a full host of people before the process is over.

The rise of programs like Zoom makes panel interviews even more common since multiple people can easily jump on a call. What’s a job seeker like you to do with so many people to impress? Be prepared for anything by following these steps for success!

Tweak your elevator pitch

You’re doing to have to introduce yourself multiple times throughout the interview process. Many of these people will have different roles throughout the company. You’ll want to be prepared to introduce yourself in different ways to better express your value.

The elevator pitch is one of the job seeker’s best tools: a quick summary of who you are, what you can do, and the value you offer. But you can’t make the exact same pitch to each person—you’ll sound like a commercial. Instead, Forbes’ Jack Kelly says to tweak your pitch for a variety of purposes.

For example, someone in HR might be looking for a good cultural fit. A direct superior may be more concerned with your technical knowledge, and a potential peer might simply want to see if you sound like someone they’ll like working with. Be prepared with a deep self-scout and find ways to quickly express your value to everyone involved.

Do extra research

You should also do research before your interview to come across as prepared, excited, and competent. But if you know you’ll be interviewing with multiple people, you need to go above and beyond. Each person is coming from a different area of expertise and will ask different questions.

Coursera says to ask the company important questions when setting up the interview, including asking who will be involved, what their roles are, and how the interview will be structured. This gives you a better starting point for beginning your research.

Annie Rosencrans of HiBob says that knowing everyone’s role and potential concerns will make it easy to direct your later questions and form a deeper connection with each interviewer.

Embrace active listening

A normal interview can be intimidating as is. Throwing more people into the mix can make things feel overwhelming. It can be nerve-wracking trying to keep up, but if you can remember to practice active listening skills, you’ll be golden.

“As you enter the interview room, keep a broad smile, make eye contact with all the interviewers, greet them by their names, and ask for permission to sit.” –Hiration

Brett Helling says the easiest way to stay engaged and in control is with eye contact. Start by making eye contact with the person asking you questions, but branch out with your response to make individual eye contact with everyone. Take time to make the right physical responses and you’ll be in great shape in looking sharp and engaged.

“One of the simplest ways to improve your chances of a successful panel interview is by using eye contact. Looking someone directly in the eyes will show that you’re confident.” –Brett Hilling

Find ways to connect

Practicing good body language is a great start, but you want to connect with each panel member as much as possible. This can be difficult; you’ll have less time with each individual. But it’s not undoable. You just have to maximize each opportunity.

Start by learning each panel member’s name (much easier if you researched them beforehand!). Then try to incorporate their name when you speak to that person. That small act builds a connection each time the name is repeated. Knowing each person’s name and role will make it easier to ask questions to the appropriate individual, and you can even take the opportunity to ask questions of someone who may not have asked you many.

“It can be difficult to differentiate yourself as a candidate early in your career. Asking targeted questions shows you pay attention to details and sets you apart from other candidates.” –Annie Rosencrans

Indeed says to keep things conversational and to engage with each interviewer equally. The final decision will be a group one, and you don’t want someone to be unexcited about you since you didn’t engage with them enough.

Bring extra resumes!

You might not always know you’re about to enter a panel interview, but it’s a good idea to assume it’s a possibility. Bring extra materials like printed copies of your resume or business cards just to be safe.

Wrap up

A panel interview is a great opportunity for multiple relevant members of a company to see your potential and see how you respond in a rapid-fire environment. If you enter the interview having done your research and take the most of every opportunity to connect, you’ll stand a good chance of winning over everyone. Don’t be afraid to listen carefully, take a pause before answering questions, and ask questions if needed!

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