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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 October 16, 2019

        How to Bounce Back Gracefully After Getting Fired

        How to Bounce Back Gracefully After Getting Fired

        Whether you saw it coming or not, getting fired is a real shock and its impact is daunting. What did you do wrong? What are you supposed to do next? When will you stop feeling so angry?

        But there are ways to deal with a layoff.

        The most important thing is to remain calm and see it as an opportunity to reflect, change and improve. This is a great time to consider what happened, look again at your needs and desires and start afresh on a stronger, more constructive basis.

        Let’s take a look at how you can bounce back gracefully after getting fired.

        1. Deal with the Shock of Getting Fired

        To lose your job is to lose your identity as a worker and as a person. Debbie Mandel, author of Addicted to Stress, states that 7 out of 10 of us define ourselves by our job titles, since work is where we spend the majority of our time and energy.

        Being laid off affronts your sense of self-worth—it implies that you simply are not good enough. It’s no wonder you feel confused and emotional.

        The first thing, then, is to take some time to digest what happened and deal with the overflow of sensations. People who quickly recover from the pain of a job loss tend to do two things very well:

        First, they accept their feelings of sadness, anger, fear and shame as a part of the natural healing process.

        Second, they do their complaining to a friend.

        Never call out your boss in the office or on social media. It’s a bad form to speak ill of the company you work for. Stay stylish, and your employer will speak better of you when you need a reference.

        2. Stay Away from the Drama Queens

        Mass layoffs are, unfortunately, very common. If this is your situation, then you may be surrounded by a lot of angry people, ruminating and lamenting their fate.

        “It’s not fair!” they say. “After everything we did for this company! We don’t deserve this!”

        You’ve lost your job and that’s tough. But please resist the urge to join in the negativity. Positivity is by far the most important attitude to apply right now. If staying upbeat means you have to limit your exposure to the Negative Nellies, then that’s what you have to do.

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        Remember, life is not harder for you than it is for other people on this planet. You live in a democracy, you have freedom of choice and you enjoy a certain material abundance.

        Stay positive and focus on what’s going well in your life and the exciting future opportunities available to you. Getting fired is only a temporary setback.

        Staying positing could be challenging in a difficult situation, so these tips can help:

        10 Questions To Ask Yourself To Stay Positive When Facing Difficulties

        3. Take a Break and Let the Dust Settle

        Instead of running straight into another job that may not be the right one either, take a short break to recover from the job loss. You need a week or two to de-stress and meditate on the next step.

        Be attentive to your need for self-care during this interlude. Everything goes so fast these days that we often do not stop to think or give ourselves the permission to do a little mourning.

        Getting fired is a big shock: you need time to refocus and take stock of the new reality. Do not make things harder for yourself!

        What you need is to pause a while and do some self reflection:

        How Self-Reflection Gives You a Happier and More Successful Life

        4. Be Anchored in the Present

        Since you no longer have a hold on the past, but have not yet designed your future, try to build yourself up with the present. What do we mean by that?

        We mean that right now is the only time you have any control over. Focus on that instead of losing yourself in memories or reliving the awful day you got fired over and over in your head.

        Get up at 7 a.m. each day, whatever happens. The body needs rhythm and habits. You will feel much more energized if you keep a consistent routine. Maintain a healthy lifestyle, revisit your budget, play sports, volunteer. Take care of the practical stuff like claiming unemployment. Enjoy the small pleasures of everyday life.

        When you’re busy, there’s no room for the inner critic to raise up and derail you. Keep active, and you will gain more of the precious energy you need so much to move forward.

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        Try these things to help you live in the moment:

        34 Ways To Live in the Moment And Grow in the Moment

        5. Understand the “Why”

        There are lots of reasons why people are fired. Sometimes the mistake is yours and it’s embarrassing to admit you backed yourself into this corner.

        Other times, it’s not your fault. Businesses change direction all the time—maybe yours is going through a major transition or merger and your job is disappearing.

        Either way, to give the situation some closure, you need to understand why you were dismissed. What slipped? What could you have done differently? Was your boss really out to get you or did you do something to put your job in jeopardy?

        Be honest with yourself. It’s not easy to admit that you might have dropped the ball but it’s the only way to turn the situation into a learning experience. Ask yourself:

        What skills do you need to improve?

        Is there training you can access, or learning you can do?

        In the end, did this job suit you that much? Were you happy there?

        Reflecting on these questions can help you put things into perspective. What lessons can you learn to avoid reproducing the same pattern in your next job?

        6. Find out If You Were the Right Fit

        Hiring decisions ultimately come down to personality. You can study for an interview all you like, but every candidate who is chosen for interview has the right credentials for the job.

        The final decision comes down to personality. Who does the recruiter like the best? Who is a better fit for the company culture? That’s the person who strikes it lucky.

        Firing decisions are based on personality, too. Slacking off, insubordination and playing fast and loose with the company rules—these are the official reasons why people are getting fired.

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        But all of these reasons boil down to one thing: personality. Specifically, they signal a personality clash between an employee and a manager, or an employee’s fit with the company’s culture.

        Here’s an example:

        Suppose you were fired for “not being a team player.” Some people, namely introverts, lose energy when they are surrounded by other people and gain energy when they are on their own. Forcing an introvert to continuously work on a busy, noisy team without any solitary rest periods means the job is a mission impossible. This employee will never perform at her best.

        Or how about the time the Kansas City Star newspaper fired Walt Disney for a perceived lack of imagination? Talk about a clash of personalities![1]

        Getting fired can be a signal to turn inward and do some self-reflection so you can better understand your personality and how it might fit in with corporate culture.

        In particular, personality assessments based on Isabel Briggs Myers’ sixteen personality types can help you to understand your own work style and how you can find a job and workplace that better match who you truly are.

        In many cases, it is totally liberating to realize that all the crap you had to deal with was just down to a clash of work styles and not something you did wrong!

        7. Rediscover Your Strengths and Talents

        A personality test can also give you clear insights into your strengths, weaknesses, motivations and work potential. Do you have leadership abilities? How do you communicate and manage conflict? What benefits do you add to an organization?

        Identifying your working style should be your top priority right now, otherwise you risk accepting a new position that has all the same problems as before. The last thing you want is to reproduce the same old dramas the next time around.

        When you become aware of your potential, you will have the confidence to search and find the type of work you love.

        For example, getting fired from your banking job may have knocked you sideways. But you have some stellar home decorating skills, and a personality test shows that you are curious, flexible, rational and resilient—all the traits of successful entrepreneurs. Maybe this dismissal is an opportunity to launch the business you’ve always dreamed of but never dared to admit to yourself?

        By considering all your special skills and talents, you increase your chances of finding a job you would really enjoy, and not just the one you can do.

        8. Get the Word Out

        At this point, you should be ready to take action and move forward with your job search. Let’s not sugarcoat the situation: getting a new job is tough. It helps to have a clear idea of the direction you want to go in, a list of all your crossover skills and a freshly polished resume.

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        Look around for inspiration. Talk to recruiters in your sector to establish what they consider to be your most valuable skills. Use all the resources at your disposal: job search agencies, headhunters, work coaches, careers websites and so on. These resources can help you match your qualifications to the job requirements and ensure you have the right keywords on your resume.

        Don’t hold back on marshaling your networks. Put friends and family to work to pop up leads, and don’t be afraid to ask for referrals. Sometimes the simple act of getting the word out to the people who know you is the surest way to find work fast.

        9. Anticipate Questions and Know How to Answer Them

        Even if it wasn’t your fault, getting fired can hurt you if you don’t know how to explain why you were let go. You have to be honest here and tell recruiters the truth. Even if a would-be employer does not specifically ask why you left your previous job, it is better to clarify the situation upfront before it comes out in your references.

        The best approach is to take your share of responsibility and show that you want to go forward and that you understand the lesson.

        For example, suppose you got fired for asking the difficult questions that no one wanted to answer and your candidness set people on edge. Acknowledge that some people perceive your communication style as abrupt and explain how you’re taking steps to increase your diplomacy skills.

        A recruiter can be seduced by someone who knows how to evolve and who shows a great energy for personal development.

        10. Adapt and Persist

        Throughout this journey, you inevitably will go through moments of self-doubt and disappointment. There are undulations in every road, and these are the normal steps for regaining self-confidence after getting fired.

        Stay tough! Don’t conclude that your future is hopeless just because the dream job doesn’t land straightaway. You open a positive path when you maintain focus. Have the confidence to know that the perfect job for you is out there.

        Remember, you are not alone. Many people walked this road and they would urge you to keep the momentum. Stay open-minded and go where the opportunities take you: it will bring you closer to the job you really want.

        Coming Out on Top

        While getting fired isn’t the ideal situation, it isn’t the end of the world either. Even if feels like a doozy right now, you will get through it and emerge happier on the other side.

        Be clear on what you want, have courage and believe in yourself. In the end, you may decide that getting fired was the best thing that ever happened to you. It can be the catalyst for a powerful, career-fulfilling change.

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        Featured photo credit: Jesus Kiteque via unsplash.com

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