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How to Outperform in a Panel Interview Without Breaking a Sweat

How to Outperform in a Panel Interview Without Breaking a Sweat

Job interviews are often daunting. The idea of having to sell yourself, your skills and experience and your personality to another person through a series of questions and answers, is not easy. But they aren’t supposed to be easy. The point of an interview is for an organization to try and find out if you would be a good fit for the role you are interviewing for, and for the company as a whole, and they only have a limited amount of time to try and find out this information.

Panel interviews can be even more intimidating, because instead of being interviewed one to one, you are being interviewed by two or more people. Organizations are using panel interviews more often now because they save time and they put even more pressure on the candidate. Although panel interviews are never going to be easy and not nerve-wracking, they are often not as bad as you think. In fact, a panel interview could mean that you will only be interviewed once, rather than being interviewed separately by each person on the panel.

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Here are some tips that will make a panel interview easier so you can ease some pressure, be more confident and be able to show the interviewers exactly why you would be perfect for the role:

1. Prepare yourself so well that you can predict what they would say

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    As with most things in life, preparation is important. An interview is like a test, and you wouldn’t take a test without studying and preparing for it, right?

    • Find out who is interviewing you and what their positions are in the company. Knowing who will be interviewing you makes things a little less daunting. It could also help you to know what type of question each interviewer is likely to ask you.
    • Research the company and role. Make sure you know what the company does, what their services and products are, their competitors, their achievements and awards. Find out exactly what they are looking for in a candidate and what the role actually entails.
    • Practice interview questions. There are always standard interview questions you will have to answer. Research the questions you’re likely to be asked and make sure you have an answer in mind for them. Think of examples of situations where you have used the skills or experience required for the role. Also, remember that there could be some curveball questions you can’t exactly prepare for, but expecting them will be helpful.
    • Prepare your own questions. At the end of the interview you usually get asked whether you have any questions of your own. It’s good to have a few questions because it shows that you are actually interested in the company and the position, and that you have done your research. While researching the company, note down two or three questions you haven’t been able to find the answers to.
    • Research the journey to the place of the interview, the transport and traffic conditions and always plan to arrive early. It’s infinitely better to arrive too early than to arrive late.

    2. Engage with the panel skilfully

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      During the interview, it can be difficult to know where to look because there are several people you are speaking to. You need to make sure you are engaging with all the interviewers.

      • First impressions count. Make eye contact when you greet each interviewer. Smile and give them a sturdy handshake.
      • It’s tricky to remember people’s names when you first meet them, especially when you are nervous. But try to remember the names of the interviewers. Doing research beforehand on who is interviewing you will help with this.
      • Be careful not to exclude anyone. During questions and answers, make eye contact with whoever is asking you a question, but when giving your answers, make sure you address the whole panel.

      3. Beware of your tone and delivery

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        Remember that during an interview, what you say is not the only thing the interviewer will pay attention to. During a panel interview you will have several people paying attention to your overall attitude and body language.

        • Be positive and optimistic. You want to highlight your skills and experience and demonstrate why you would be great for the role. However, be careful not to sound arrogant and over confident no matter how well you think the interview is going.
        • Try to relax. Take deep breaths. Drink some water if you feel your mouth getting dry. Don’t fidget. Don’t fold your arms over your chest or sit in other closed off positions. Remember to smile.
        • Think about your tone and delivery. No one wants to listen to someone who sounds bored or tired or uninterested. But at the same time, while showing enthusiasm, be clear and keep a good pace when speaking.

        Featured photo credit: Shutterstock via kbrs.ca

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        Sheena Vincent

        Freelance Writer

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        Last Updated on June 18, 2019

        5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

        5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

        It takes great leadership skills to build great teams.

        The best leaders have distinctive leadership styles and are not afraid to make the difficult decisions. They course-correct when mistakes happen, manage the egos of team members and set performance standards that are constantly being met and improved upon.

        With a population of more than 327 million, there are literally scores of leadership styles in the world today. In this article, I will talk about the most common leadership styles and how you can determine which works best for you.

        5 Types of Leadership Styles

        I will focus on 5 common styles that I’ve encountered in my career: democratic, autocratic, transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership.

        The Democratic Style

        The democratic style seeks collaboration and consensus. Team members are a part of decision-making processes and communication flows up, down and across the organizational chart.

        The democratic style is collaborative. Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek is an example of a leader who appears to have a democratic leadership style.

          The Autocratic Style

          The autocratic style, on the other hand, centers the preferences, comfort and direction of the organization’s leader. In many instances, the leader makes decisions without soliciting agreement or input from their team.

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          The autocratic style is not appropriate in all situations at all times, but it can be especially useful in certain careers, such as military service, and in certain instances, such as times of crisis. Steve Jobs was said to have had an autocratic leadership style.

          While the democratic style seeks consensus, the autocratic style is less interested in consensus and more interested in adherence to orders. The latter advises what needs to be done and expects close adherence to orders.

            The Transformational Style

            Transformational leaders drive change. They are either brought into organizations to turn things around, restore profitability or improve the culture.

            Alternatively, transformational leaders may have a vision for what customers, stakeholders or constituents may need in the future and work to achieve those goals. They are change agents who are focused on the future.

            Examples of transformational leader are Oprah and Robert C. Smith, the billionaire hedge fund manager who has offered to pay off the student loan debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College.

              The Transactional Style

              Transactional leaders further the immediate agenda. They are concerned about accomplishing a task and doing what they’ve said they’d do. They are less interested in changing the status quo and more focused on ensuring that people do the specific task they have been hired to do.

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              The transactional leadership style is centered on short-term planning. This style can stifle creativity and keep employees stuck in their present roles.

              The Laissez-Faire Style

              The fifth common leadership style is laissez-faire, where team members are invited to help lead the organization.

              In companies with a laissez-faire leadership style, the management structure tends to be flat, meaning it lacks hierarchy. With laissez-faire leadership, team members might wonder who the final decision maker is or can complain about a lack of leadership, which can translate to lack of direction.

              Which Leadership Style do You Practice?

              You can learn a lot about your leadership style by observing your family of origin and your formative working experiences.

              Whether you realize it, from the time you were born up until the time you went to school, you were receiving information on how to lead yourself and others. From the way your parents and siblings interacted with one another, to unspoken and spoken communication norms, you were a sponge for learning what constitutes leadership.

              The same is true of our formative work experiences. When I started my communications career, I worked for a faith-based organization and then a labor union. The style of communication varied from one organization to the other. The leadership required to be successful in each organization was also miles apart. At Lutheran social services, we used language such as “supporting people in need.” At the labor union, we used language such as “supporting the leadership of workers” as they fought for what they needed.

              Many in the media were more than happy to accept my pitch calls when I worked for the faith-based organization, but the same was not true when I worked for a labor union. The quest for media attention that was fair and balanced became more difficult and my approach and style changed from being light-hearted to being more direct with the labor union.

              I didn’t realize the impact those experiences had on how I thought about my leadership until much later in my career.

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              In my early experience, it was not uncommon for team members to have direct, brash and tough conversations with one another as a matter of course. It was the norm, not the exception. I learned to challenge people, boldly state my desires and preferences, and give tough feedback, but I didn’t account for the actions of others fit for me, as a black woman. I didn’t account for gender biases and racial biases.

              What worked well for my white male bosses, did not work well for me as an African American woman. People experienced my directness as being rude and insensitive. While I needed to be more forceful in advancing the organization’s agenda when I worked for labor, that style did not bode well for faith-based social justice organizations who wanted to use the love of Christ to challenge injustice.

              Whereas I received feedback that I needed to develop more gravitas in the workplace when I worked for labor, when I worked for other organizations after the labor union, I was often told to dial it back. This taught me two important lessons about leadership:

              1. Context Matters

              Your leadership style must adjust to each workplace you are employed. The challenges and norms of an organization will shape your leadership style significantly.

              2. Not All Leadership Styles Are Appropriate for the Teams You’re Leading

              When I worked on political campaigns, we worked nonstop. We started at dawn and worked late into the evening. I couldn’t expect that level of round-the-clock work for people at the average nonprofit. Not only couldn’t I expect it, it was actually unhealthy. My habit of consistently waking up at 4 am to work was profoundly unhealthy for me and harmful for the teams I was leading.

              As life coach and spiritual healer Iyanla Vanzant has said,

              “We learn a lot from what is seen, sensed and shared.”

              The message I was sending to my team was ‘I will value you if you work the way that I work, and if you respond to my 4 am, 5 am and 6 am emails.’ I was essentially telling my employees that I expect you to follow my process and practice.

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              As I advanced in my career and began managing more people, I questioned everything I thought I knew about leadership. It was tough. What worked for me in one professional setting did not work in other settings. What worked at one phase of my life didn’t necessarily serve me at later stages.

              When I began managing millennials, I learned that while committed to the work, they had active interests and passions outside of the office. They were not willing to abandon their lives and happiness for the work, regardless of how fulfilling it might have been.

              The Way Forward

              To be an effective leader, you must know yourself incredibly well. You must be self-reflective and also receptive to feedback.

              As fellow Lifehack contributor Mike Bundrant wrote in the article 10 Essential Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader:

              “Those who lead must understand human nature, and they start by fully understanding themselves…They know their strengths, and are equally aware of their weaknesses and thus understand the need for team work and the sharing of responsibility.”

              The way to determine your leadership style is to get to know yourself and to be mindful of the feedback you receive from others. Think about the leadership lessons that were seen, sensed and shared in your family of origin. Then think about what feels right for you. Where do you gravitate and what do you tend to avoid in the context of leadership styles?

              If you are really stuck, think about using a personality assessment to shed light on your work patterns and preferences.

              Finally, the path for determining your leadership style is to think about not only what you need, or what your company values, but also what your team needs. They will give you cues on what works for them and you need to respond accordingly.

              Leadership requires flexibility and attentiveness. Contrary to unrealistic notions of leadership, being a leader is less about being served and more about being of service.

              More About Leadership

              Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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