Tips to make a great impression at a panel interview

When you're looking for high profile finance jobs, you may become accustomed to different types of interviews, ranging from phone interviews, one-on-ones, group critiques and panel interviews. Of all these options, panel interviews can often bring the most stress.

Panel interviews are popular among many high-profile employers, namely because they allow companies to see how well you perform under pressure. In industries where the pressure might be running high in certain environments, companies want to ensure that job seekers, if hired, can conduct themselves professionally and confidently during intense situations and unfamiliar settings. Because panel interviews also require you to address different people with differing personalities, interviewers can also gain a better sense on how you perform in a team-oriented environment. Finally, panel interviews are time-efficient structures that allow all decision-makers to participate in the hiring process. For this reason, impressing each and every person on the panel is important. 

The thought of "inquisition-style" interviews where you're given a single seat in front of five or six hiring managers is almost enough to make you start looking for a less-stressful position, but you can easily win over your potential employers by following a few time-honored tips to outshine your competition. 

1. Address each and every person equally
While each panel member may have a set of questions to ask you, it's a mistake to focus solely on that single individual when giving your answer. You are trying to impress a group of people, and in order to do so, it's important that you include each person when communicating. Make eye contact with everyone, speak loudly enough for all to hear. This will help ensure that you don't give off the impression of leaving certain members out of what should be considered a group discussion. 

2. Rehearse
You don't want to sound like a robot who has memorized the answers, but you don't want to come off as unprepared either. Panel interviews are slightly designed to be stressful, so you may be even more nervous in this setting than in a one-on-one interview. Therefore, having a few good answers ready to common interview questions can help put you at ease and ensure you sound professional, confident and energetic about the position.

3. Clarify any confusion before answering
Many people who are intimidated by a panel interview may try to rush through the process to get it over with as quickly as possible. This can lead to flubs when answering key questions. To avoid this habit, don't be afraid to ask for clarification if you're confused by a question. Asking for more explanations and coming up with a great answer is preferable to giving a blanket response. 

4. Ask your own questions
Part of impressing a group of hiring managers is demonstrating to them that you're not only good under pressure, but that you're passionate about your ability to contribute to their company. Asking questions is one of the simplest ways to show them your interest in being part of the team. Typically, panel interviewers will introduce themselves by their title and the particular roles they fill. Try to keep note of this so that you can direct your questions to the appropriate party. 

5. Follow up with a thank you to each member
Many job seekers are so overwhelmed with their performance in an interview that they forget the interview is not really over until they hear back from the company. There is another step that can greatly differentiate you from other job seekers, and it involves the simple, but powerful, gesture of a Thank You note. Sending a small note of thanks to each member who took the time to participate in the interview shows your persistence and devotion to the job.