11 things you should never do in a panel interview

It’s easy to be intimidated walking into an interview, and that is especially true when faced with multiple interviewers. In any type of interview, preparation is key, but knowing the things you should never do in a panel interview is crucial to making sure this specific type of meeting goes well. 

Panel interviews give multiple people within a company the chance to get to know potential hires. This type of interview is especially prevalent in corporate environments that value teamwork and collaboration.

Often, hiring managers want several people who might be directly involved working with you to weigh in on whether or not you seem like a good fit for the team. This could mean meeting with subject matter experts, human resource representatives, or even your potential new manager all at once. 

Because of how many people are involved, panel interviews can be daunting. Having to answer questions asked by multiple individuals as opposed to just one requires more of a balancing act. It’s imperative to prepare for any interview, but preparing for a panel interview requires a bit more finesse, and it’s important to know ahead of time things that you absolutely should not do.

1. Forget everyone’s names and titles

Part of your pre-interview preparation should include learning the names and titles of each person who will be included in your panel interview. Ask the hiring manager ahead of time who all will be present and take the time to remember who is who when heading into your panel interview. 

This move shows initiative and that you are serious about working with the company. In the event that someone is added to the panel last-minute, it will be easier to learn this one person’s name and title upon introduction if you already made it a point to learn the others ahead of time. 

2. Only introduce yourself to the most senior person on the panel

Especially if you’re a shy person by nature, it may be tempting to single out the most senior-level interviewer and introduce yourself only to them. However, every person on the panel will have a say in whether or not you are hired and you should take the time to introduce yourself to each person individually.

3. Give one person more attention than the others

You might end up really clicking with one person on the panel of interviewers more than the others, but you should still make it a point to give equal attention to everyone. Be sure to engage with each and every person in the room and show them all why you’re the person they should hire

4. Not have enough copies of your resume with you

When attending any interview, bringing hard copies of your resume is crucial. In the event that your interviewers don’t have your resume printed and in front of them, you should have plenty of copies on hand to disperse to anyone on the panel who needs one.

If you’re participating in a virtual panel interview, emailing a PDF copy of your resume to the members of the panel ahead of time is one way to make sure that everyone has this information. You can always check with the point of contact scheduling your interview to ask whether or not your resume will be provided to the panel ahead of time if you are meeting in a virtual setting

5. Let the pressure get to you

Some companies use panel interviews to gauge how you’ll handle things when under stress on the job. Multiple people firing off different questions and analyzing how you answer them is the epitome of pressure, so it’s imperative not to let them see you sweat. 

One way to stave off any jitters that could lead to a fumble during the interview is to prepare ahead of time. Practice answering common interview questions out loud, have a friend give you feedback on your answers and make sure you’re putting your most confident foot forward when it’s time for your panel interview.

6. Ask about their personal salaries

While talking about what the pay will be for the job that you’re interviewing for is appropriate during an interview, inquiring about the salary of anyone who is interviewing you is not. This is especially true in a panel interview situation where the people present may make different amounts. 

Asking about the personal salary of an interviewer during a panel interview can put them on the spot and could make them feel pressured to divulge this personal information in front of their colleagues. 

7. Talk more than listen, or listen more than talk

Balancing how much you’re talking in an interview with how much you listen to your interviewers can feel like walking a tightrope. You want to take in what everyone on the panel has to offer, ask questions when appropriate, and engage, but you also want to make sure that you aren’t hogging the microphone, so to speak. 

Especially with multiple people in the room during a panel interview, it’s important to be mindful of when it’s time to talk and when it’s time to listen

8. Leave your cell phone on

This may seem like a no-brainer, but just like in a one-on-one interview, you need to turn off your cell phone before walking into the interview room. In a panel interview, a faux pas like your cell phone ringing in the middle of the meeting can make a bad impression that could hurt your chances of landing the role. It shows a lack of professionalism that is sure to be noticed by everyone in the room and may even lead to a discussion about how seriously you would take the role once you leave. 

9. Stretch the truth

It’s a good rule of thumb not to lie during any type of interview. Between reference checks and looking into your background online, a potential employer is bound to find out sooner or later if you give them false information.

In a panel interview, don’t be tempted to inflate the truth or pad your answers to questions with things that you think might make you look better. Chances are, between all of the people on the panel, someone will be able to sniff out your lie. It’s better to tell the truth and get the role through your honesty, hard work, and qualifications than to stretch the truth and lose out on the job because someone catches you in a lie. 

10. Ignore body language

Just like your body language during an interview can give clues about your personality and how serious you are about the job, the body language of your interviewers can help you as well. Seeing interviewers who are nodding, smiling, and maintaining eye contact when you speak can all be signs that they are really engaged and listening to what you are saying. 

Body language cues in a panel interview could also be something subtle like one person constantly glancing at another every time you start answering a question to gauge that person’s reaction. Take stock of what you notice both when you’re speaking and when each interviewer is speaking. This could help you tailor your answers, reactions, and your own body language and up your chances of impressing the panel. 

11. Forget to collect everyone’s contact information

Following up after a panel interview is different from a one-on-one interview. It’s best to reach out directly to each person from the panel interview individually with a thank you email in order to express your gratitude. 
If you don’t have contact information for each individual, you can’t properly thank them each for meeting with you, which ultimately could hurt your chances of landing the job.