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The Interview Isn’t Always What You Expect

April 27, 2011 by  
Filed under General

A client of mine went for an interview the other day. She was greeted by the woman who she knew was going to interview her. The woman asked her to join her and when they entered the room there were four other people at a conference table waiting to interview her. She didn’t know this was going to be a panel interview! Not only was this a panel interview, it was a well orchestrated one. There was a manager from each department and a peer level staff member as well. They had a list of questions, mostly behavioral questions, and passed the list to each other throughout the interview. The interview went well because my client was prepared. Here are some tips: If you have the opportunity, shake hands and make eye contact with each person as you are introduced. Next open your portfolio and on the pad inside write the names of each person in the order that they are seated and write their position as well. When you answer a question, as you begin speaking make eye contact with the person who asked the question but then make sure you look at each person as you continue your answer and then return to the person who asked the question. Remember there is a purpose behind every question so keep that in mind as you answer. Use the S.T.A.R. format which works best in behavioral questions. S-situation, T-task, A-action you took, R-result. Of course you have prepared questions in advance so make sure you match your question to the appropriate panel member: hence noting there position on your diagram. When leaving, shake hands with each person and ask for their business card. Write a thank you to each before your head hits the pillow that night. Most people, whether a recent college graduate or an experienced executive are nervous when such a surprise like this happens, but try to think of it this way: This position must be important or the company wouldn’t take the time to orchestrate such an interview event. In addition, it’s a good sign of the companies commitment to their hiring process because they took the time to prepare. Finally, this helps shorten the interview process as everyone is in the same place at the same time. So next time this happens to you, don’t be surprised… prepared to ace the interview.