Facing an interview panel

It can be stressful to find yourself facing a committee rather than a single recruiter. However, you can turn the situation to your advantage.

Selection committees or panels usually make more objective decisions than recruiters acting alone. Since the committee members share the tasks, they are able to observe and listen to the candidate more effectively. One person asks the questions, another takes notes, another takes part in simulations, and so forth. Here are three simple rules for making a good impression on the panel.

1. Establish good contact with each member of the panel
Each member of the panel wants to feel that he or she has a special connection with the candidate. To give them this impression, shake hands with everyone at the beginning and end of the interview. Establish eye contact with each of the interviewers every time you speak. Make sure you are holding each person’s interest. If someone is yawning or seems distracted, try to get his or her attention by making eye contact, speaking less quickly or changing your tone of voice.

2. Agree to play by the rules of the game
An interview panel is an expensive selection process since several people have to attend the interviews and take the time to discuss each candidate and deliberate after the interview, all of which can be quite time-consuming. The committee members therefore look kindly on candidates who listen to the questions, reply concisely and are sensitive to non-verbal signals to wrap up their answer. Of course, they know that it is a stressful situation for you. So they will usually be understanding if you ask for a question to be repeated — but not all of them! At the same time, don’t wait for the interviewers to politely interrupt or ask you to be more concise. If you sense that they are growing impatient, shorten your answers.

3. In a simulation, forget about the observers

In a role-play, you need to focus your attention on the other participant. Your success depends on your ability to concentrate and enter into the simulation. At this point and this point only, you should ignore all the other eyes in the room.

Éveline Marcil-Denault is the author of Du CV à l’embauche [From Resumé to Hire] (Ed. Quebecor, 2005)