9 Panel Interview Questions & Answers You Must Practice
Being familiar with the most common panel interview questions will help you make a fantastic impression and move on to the next phase of the interview process.
This guide covers panel interview questions you’ll likely face, how to answer them, and what questions you should ask in return!
What is a Panel Interview?
Panel interviews are a unique interview process that many companies are using. As the name would suggest, these meetings occur with more than one interviewer. Usually, you’re talking to a group of two or more people.
These individuals can include hiring managers, direct superiors for the position, and even potential colleagues. It’s a panel-style environment. You may sit on one side of a conference table while the interviewers sit on the other, taking turns asking questions.
You may even be in an interview with other candidates. In those scenarios, panel interviews can involve constant engagement on both sides of the table, requiring active listening to avoid overtalk.
Companies choose to do panel-style interviews for many reasons, and there are several ways to approach these meetings. The organization might conduct group sessions to save time. It allows hiring managers to meet more people in a short amount of time. It also allows them to hear your answers together for easier evaluation.
These panels also have a number of benefits for you, the candidate. It allows you to meet several stakeholders and colleagues without coming in for individual interviews.
In some cases, panels are a strategic choice highlighting soft skills like communication and collaboration! By putting you in an environment with other candidates, hiring managers can learn how you operate, what your communication style is, and more.
Panel Interview Questions and Answers
There are a number of panel interview questions that will come up quite regularly. You might get them back to back as interviewers take turns speaking. Alternatively, a panel member might pose the same question repeatedly to all applicants.
Either way, it pays to be prepared. While not exhaustive by any means, here’s a quick breakdown of some of the most common panel interview questions you’ll encounter, plus tips on how to answer them.
1. How Would You Describe Yourself?
This panel interview question sounds basic, but it unveils a treasure trove of information. It usually comes at the beginning of the interview, acting like an icebreaker to get the conversation rolling. Panel interviews are more social, but interviewers are still listening for red flags, interesting details, and insight into what you have to offer.
This particular panel interview question lets everyone know more about who you are. It’s a chance to discuss your accomplishments and any other qualifications that might not be on your resume. It also provides insight into your personality, helping interviewers see how you fit into the current work environment.
The best way to answer this question is to focus on your achievements and how they would help the company. Always find a way to circle back and create a connection to the position you’re trying to land.
2. How Would Your Coworkers Describe You?
In many jobs, there’s a good chance that you’ll need to collaborate frequently and practice effective communication. Here’s a panel interview question that lets you demonstrate how you form work relationships. Interviewers want to see that you’re personable, capable of working with others, and willing to forge those all-important professional relationships.
Be honest with your answer. Think about the individuals from your past jobs with whom you formed good bonds during your tenure. Then, focus on your strengths and highlight the excellent skills that made your working relationship flourish.
3. What Interests You About This Position?
This question comes up in panel interviews, solo interviews, and even brief discussions with hiring managers. No matter the interview environment, it’s a query you can almost guarantee will come up.
The point of this panel interview question is to see if your career goals align with the position. The hiring manager wants to see that this role is more than just a paycheck or stepping stone to something else. Companies want employees who are dedicated, willing to stick around, and intrigued by the company mission.
The best way to respond is to talk about your larger career goals while tailoring your answer to what the company and role have to offer. Do your research beforehand and develop an answer that revolves around this role and what it can do for your bigger picture.
4. Why Should We Hire You?
Every candidate has unique skills and capabilities. However, you can only provide so much information on a resume or cover letter. This panel interview question lets you talk more about your experience and accomplishments.
It’s about telling the interviewers what you bring to the table that no one else does. You should share not only the skills you know they are looking for but also the problems you know you can fix. Think about what they have told you they need and explain how you can deliver that.
Think about your education, training, and experience. You can also dig deep into the personality traits that make you fantastic at your work. Talk about those details and lean on what makes you unique.
5. What Do You Know About Our Company?
Here’s a tricky question that seems out of left field. Why would interviewers be interested in finding out what you know about their company?
Ultimately, this question aims to prove that you’re serious about the role. For some folks, opportunities fall into their laps. Maybe they apply for a job, not thinking much of it. But the next thing they know, they’re deep into the hiring process and on the cusp of landing a new position.
Interviewers want to see if you’re serious about this role. If you know a lot about the company, it shows that you did your research. Clearly, the hiring process is important enough for you to learn as much as possible.
When answering this panel interview question, talk about what you know. Link things back to the position, and don’t be afraid to talk about what drew you to the company.
6. What Kind of Work Environment Do You Prefer?
Every company has a distinct work environment and culture. No matter how qualified you are, not fitting in the work environment can negatively impact your performance and overall job satisfaction. Plus, no one wants to work with someone who doesn’t want to be there!
Here’s where doing research beforehand pays off. Learn about the culture and what it entails. Is the business strict and super professional? Or is it more laid-back and fun?
Once you know, mold your answer accordingly.
7. Why Are You Looking for a New Job?
Interviewers inquire about what you want out of a job to ensure that this position is the appropriate fit for you. It’s about seeing if the job will keep you motivated and engaged.
You can have the best qualifications and skills around, but your performance will falter if you’re not passionate about the job. Those individuals also don’t have much reason to be there, leaving their tenure at the company up in the air.
Keeping the company and position in mind, answer truthfully. Talk about the job you want, and cement those connections to this role. When answering this panel interview question, your goal should be to reaffirm that this position is one that you’ll enjoy doing.
8. How Do You Handle Disagreements with Coworkers?
Workplace disagreements happen all the time, but they should never cause so much drama that they negatively impact business.
This panel interview question is asked because interviewers want to see how you handle conflict. Do you let it fester, or do you address it and move on?
Think about your past experiences and choose one that reflects well on you (obviously). Consider discussing what you did to address the issue and stress how it didn’t affect your work performance or your relationship with the colleague. Focus on positivity and tell the story in a way that demonstrates your superior communication and problem-solving skills.
9. Do You Have Any Questions for Us?
This panel interview question is an open door for discussion, allowing you to make a solid lasting impression. Asking relevant questions shows that you’re serious about the job, genuinely want to work at the company, and are interested in learning more about what the organization offers.
Thoughtful questions can stick out in interviewers’ minds, making you memorable no matter how many people were in the room with you. You have plenty of options here, but we’ve put together a list of great questions to ask in a panel interview at the bottom of this guide to get you started.
Tips to Remember for Panel Interviews
Walking into a panel interview can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be a nightmare scenario. Here are a few tips to help you answer common panel interview questions and leave a good impression on everyone you speak with.
Do Your Homework
The most important thing you can do? Research!
Always look into the company before you head to the interview. Research can give you insight into what it’s like working for the organization. It will help you decide if this job is for you and equip you with the knowledge to be motivated and well-prepared.
Sometimes, you’ll get the names of the people you’ll talk to during the interview. If so, look at their LinkedIn profiles. You don’t have to get super in-depth with your research about interviewees, but it pays to know who they are before walking through the door.
It’s good practice to ask for the names and/or job titles of the people you are meeting with. It’s also a good idea to confirm the format of the interview and length.
Don’t forget the small details.
Typically, you’ll bring a copy of your resume to an interview. For a panel interview, make sure you have copies for everyone. You should also bring a notepad to jot down notes and stay organized during the interview.
Engage with the Entire Panel
It’s easy to focus on one person during a panel interview. But that’s not the right approach to these meetings.
Do your best to pay equal attention to everyone. Engage with every interviewer on the panel by introducing yourself, making eye contact, and speaking directly to individuals. Focus your attention on the person asking the question when giving your answer. But also scan the panel to assess body language and non-verbal reactions. This might be a group situation, but you must treat every panel member as an individual.
Practice Answering These Questions
Take time to practice answering the panel interview questions we listed above. You need to get comfortable providing concise, thoughtful answers on the spot. Panel interviews can get hectic when you’re talking to multiple people.
Being prepared avoids the stammering and awkward pauses, allowing you to respond confidently.
Questions to Ask in a Panel Interview
While preparing for common panel interview questions is a major part of the process, it’s also good to have a list of questions you can ask as well. These questions can give you more insight into the company while showing the interviewers that you’re serious about getting a job offer.
There are a number of impactful questions that are worth asking, but here are some of the best.
Why is this position open?
This question to ask in a panel interview gives you more insight into how challenging the role is, how important the company thinks it is, and why the previous position holder might have left.
What does success look like for this role?
Asking this question during a panel interview shows that you want to succeed from day one. It also provides valuable information you can use to impress your employer from the jump.
What do you hope the person you hire brings to this position?
How the interviewer responds to this question can give you a better idea of how you should prepare for the role. It also lets you know if the organization expects significant change or innovation.
What skills are most important in this job?
Asking this panel interview question lets you know what you should focus on improving. It can help you hone specific skill sets, ensuring you’re ready to hit the ground running if you get an offer.
What are the next steps?
The panel interview may or may not be the last meeting you have. Asking about what to expect helps you plan your job search and gives you a better idea of when you might hear back from the hiring manager with a decision.
The panel interview questions you’ll most likely get aren’t particularly tricky to answer, as long as you’ve prepared ahead of time.
Review this list, spend some time practicing, and you’ll leave a fantastic impression.
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.