Acing a Panel Interview Over Video
Zoom interviews, as well as video interviews on other platforms, are currently dominating job searches and talent acquisition efforts across industries, including the PR profession.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, as organizations firstly transitioned to virtual work, and as many continue in remote or hybrid capacities for the foreseeable future, video interviews remain the go-to. They are just as serious as in-person interviews, so it is important to treat them as such.
One-on-one video interviews are often less difficult to navigate than panel video interviews, which are also becoming increasingly common. In a panel or group video interview, two or more members of a team will meet with you simultaneously. This is actually a great thing, because it can simulate what the work style of the team is like. Let’s review some best practices to follow to ace those group video interviews.
Before the interview
Be sure that you have a list of the confirmed participants prior to the interview, so that you can research the team members and organization in advance. This allows you to come to the meeting prepared with smart questions about the role, the team and the work that they’re doing. You’ll likely also be in a better position to answer their questions, too!
Prepare your introduction. When everyone introduces themselves, you’ll want a quick “elevator pitch” about yourself to share with the group before the official Q&As begin. You may want to practice with a trusted friend, so that you don’t sound overresearched, like you’re reading from a script. Sounding comfortable, confident and natural is the goal.
If you’re using Zoom, then make sure you are using an appropriate email address to sign in, and set your display name so that it says your full name. I also include my preferred pronouns so, on Zoom, under my video, you’ll see: Christina Stokes (she/her). Also, close out any windows and files before you log in, and remove anything from your desktop that you do not want people to see, in the event of an accidental screen share.
During the interview
Signing in one or two minutes early is a good rule of thumb for a video interview — just keep yourself muted until everyone is ready. Staying engaged on a video call isn’t always easy, but it’s important to remain visibly focused and interested throughout the conversation. Body language, and all nonverbal communication, matters.
Look at the camera when it is your turn to speak, and show them that you are paying attention to the interviewers while they are speaking by practicing active listening.
Find opportunities to build on the thoughts of others, especially if you have a relevant experience to share that highlights your abilities. If one of the panel interviewers hasn’t spoken much, then look for a moment to address them directly with a question. These tactics help to show your engagement in the discussion and make you more memorable overall.
Also, try not to interrupt or cut others off when they’re speaking. I know that can be difficult on a video call, so if it happens accidentally, then offer them the floor first, and turn the awkward moment into a smooth recovery (with a smile).
After the interview
Thank the interviewing team for their time at the end of the video interview. Once you log off, give it a few seconds to make sure you are fully disconnected from your microphone and video camera before doing anything else.
Always send a follow-up, thank-you email to the participants within 24 hours. It’s best to send individual notes out, but if you do send one note to the entire group, then personalize it as best as you can. Reference key moments from the conversation that stood out to you, and reiterate your interest in the opportunity.
Video interviews save everyone — the candidate, the recruiter and the organization — time and money. They also break down walls by making the experience more accessible and inclusive. Make the most of your experience. Good luck!