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Selasa, 24 Agustus 2010

Acing the Panel Interview

by Marc Hertz, Robert Half International

Meeting with one hiring manager is enough to make most job seekers nervous. But what about when you have to face a panel of interviewers? The panel interview has become increasingly popular as employers search for ways to better evaluate prospective hires and ensure those they bring aboard will be successful.

The inherent differences between a panel interview and a typical one mean you may have to learn new strategies to succeed. Following are a few tactics that can help set you apart from other job hopefuls during a panel interview:

Plan ahead. Because you'll be talking with multiple people, try to learn as much as you can about each person. Ask the hiring manager who you'll be meeting with and what positions they hold. Search online to learn about each person's background. One of the interviewers may have published an article in an industry publication, for example, or he or she may have a LinkedIn account you can peruse. This information will help you better understand each person's frame of reference and the chain of command within the company.

Gauge your audience. If you aren't able to learn about who you're meeting with beforehand, do your best to work with the information the hiring manager gives you when you arrive for the interview. For example, if you find out you're meeting with someone in the human resources department, the hiring manager and a vice president, you may want to give more attention to the VP. Observing how people interact with one another can help. If it's obvious that everyone is deferring to one person, make it a point to answer that person's questions with particular care. That said, you should include all of the participants. If one of the interviewers seems like the wallflower of the group, go out of your way to ask if that person has any questions. You want to make a positive impression on everyone, and you never know who makes the final hiring decision.

Consider eye contact. There's a natural tendency to focus your gaze on the person who asked you a question, but by doing so, you'll exclude everyone else. While you should concentrate on the person you're responding to, don't forget to look at the others while answering as well.

Remember everyone's name. At the start of the discussion, jot down the name of each interviewer so you can refer to everyone correctly during the course of the discussion. One of the biggest faux pas you can make is calling an interviewer by the wrong name or forgetting it completely.

Be cool. One of the employer's main goals during a panel interview is to determine how you react under pressure. Though it can be extremely nerve-racking to be under the gaze of several hiring managers at once, do your best to remain calm and collected. Take a moment or two to compose yourself and prepare an answer before responding to questions, and avoid the temptation to over-respond. Also, keep tabs on any nervous habits you have -- foot tapping, for example -- that may betray your poised exterior.

Follow up. It's always smart to send a thank-you note after an interview, but what do you do after meeting with multiple people? If you were able to collect business cards, you'll have each person's contact information. If that opportunity didn't present itself, get in touch with your initial contact and ask for everyone else's e-mail address. Instead of sending one message to multiple people, write an individual note to each interviewer about how much you enjoyed meeting him or her while expressing your continued interest in the position.

A panel interview can be intimidating, but by taking the time to prepare, you give yourself a much better chance at success.

Robert Half International is the world's first and largest specialized staffing firm with a global network of more than 360 offices worldwide. For more information about our professional services, please visit For additional workplace articles and podcasts, visit

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