In the rapidly evolving field of life sciences, securing a new role requires more than just a stellar CV. Panel job interviews have become increasingly common, presenting unique challenges that demand meticulous preparation and a strategic approach. As a life science professional hoping to excel in these panel interviews, it’s essential to hone your skills and stand out amongst fellow candidates.
In this article, we’ve outlined 8 strategies to help you succeed in your next panel interview. By incorporating these into your interview preparation, you’ll be able to showcase your expertise, build a personal connection with your interviewers, and make a memorable impression on the entire panel.
Familiarise Yourself with the Interview Panel
Researching the backgrounds and roles of each panel member will allow you to gain a deeper understanding of their expertise and interests. This knowledge can help you tailor your responses during the interview, ensuring you address their specific areas of interest and showcase how your skills align with their individual needs. It can also help you anticipate the types of questions they may ask, prepare relevant examples to discuss, and engage in more meaningful discussions during the interview.
When undertaking your research, look out for information such as their professional background, previous roles, educational qualifications, and any publications or research they have been involved in. This information can often be found on the company website, LinkedIn profiles, or through other online searches. While it’s essential to tailor your responses to the interview panel, ensure you maintain a balanced approach and address the needs and requirements of the role, using your research as a guide.
Address Each Panellist Individually
Acknowledge and engage with each panellist individually by addressing them by name when responding to questions. This approach shows respect and professionalism and demonstrates your ability to connect with each person on a personal level.
Addressing panellists by name shows that you value their role in the interview process and recognise their contributions. It also helps you establish a rapport with each of the panellists, which can have a positive impact on their perception of you as a candidate. You can tie this in with your research on each of the panellists, tailoring your response based on their specific roles or areas of expertise.
Remember that it’s important to balance addressing each panellist individually and maintaining a cohesive conversation with the entire panel, incorporating others into the discussion by making eye contact and directing your response to the entire panel.
Balance Your Eye Contact
In a panel interview, there will be multiple people asking questions and participating in the discussion. Whilst it's important to establish eye contact with the person asking the question, it’s equally important to maintain visual engagement with the rest of the panel too. This demonstrates your ability to connect with and communicate effectively with a diverse group of individuals.
When the panellist asks you a question, direct your initial eye contact towards them as a sign of respect and attentiveness. Maintain eye contact whilst you provide your answer to signify confidence, sincerity, and a sense of connection. Periodically shift your gaze and make eye contact with other members of the panel to include them in the conversation and acknowledge their presence and importance.
Be Mindful of Non-Verbal Cues
Non-verbal cues such as body language, facial expressions, and posture can significantly impact the way you are perceived in a panel interview. By paying attention to your non-verbal cues, you can communicate confidence, enthusiasm, and professionalism, which can leave a lasting impression on the panel.
Speak Clearly and Concisely
As you’ll be responding to questions from multiple panellists, it’s important to keep your responses focused and to the point. Practice speaking clearly and concisely articulating your thoughts to ensure that you can convey information in a structured and organised manner. Support your responses with specific examples and results that demonstrate your expertise and suitability for the role.
To make sure that you’re clear and concise when answering questions, practice summarising your experiences, qualifications, and specific examples beforehand, taking time to think about which parts of your background you want to highlight, and structuring those points into concise responses.
Engage with all Panel Members
When responding to questions during a panel interview, it’s important to direct your answers to the panel. This ensures that everyone feels included and acknowledges the collective presence and contribution of the entire panel. You’ll demonstrate your ability to communicate with a diverse group of individuals and show respect for each member’s perspective.
You can also take the opportunity to engage with individual members by seeking their opinions or advice on specific topics. This shows your desire to build relationships and work effectively with each panel member on an individual level.
Ask Thoughtful Questions at the End
Asking thoughtful questions at the end of a job interview is a valuable opportunity for you to demonstrate your genuine interest in the organisation and role. It shows that you have done your research, are curious about specific aspects of the company, and are invested in making an informed decision.
Before the interview, prepare a list of insightful questions to ask the panel at the end. These should go beyond basic information that can easily be found on the company’s website or job description. Instead, focus on topics that demonstrate your thoughtful consideration of the organisation and role. For example, you could ask about the company’s long-term vision or goals to gain insights into its direction and growth opportunities. You could also enquire about specific projects or initiatives that the team is currently working on, showing your interest in potential contributions and how you can align your skills and expertise with their needs.
Follow Up with a Personalised Thank-You Note
Once the interview is over, it’s recommended to send a personalised thank-you email to each panel member as a way of expressing appreciation. This should be done within 24 – 48 hours following the interview to ensure timeliness. Make sure to address each panel member individually and mention specific points of discussion or insights gained during the interview. This will showcase your attentiveness and engagement during the conversation, demonstrating that you were actively listening and reflecting on the information shared.
You should also express your appreciation for the panel’s time and the opportunity to learn more about the company and the role. This conveys your respect for the panel members and acknowledges the effort they put into conducting the interview process.
Make a Lasting Impression…
Panel job interviews can be challenging and sometimes intimidating, but with the right preparation and mindset, you can excel and increase your chances of making a positive lasting impression. By following these strategies, you can navigate the dynamic nature of panel interviews and increase your chances of getting hired.