Overcoming the perils of panel interviews: Candidates

Overcoming the perils of panel interviews: Candidates
Published: 20 April 2020

I recently completed a search for a Chief Executive on behalf of a local charity partner which drew up some noteworthy discussions regarding the post-shortlist stage; and more particularly – the panel interview session. After agreeing a presentation topic for the five short-listed candidates, we started to discuss how candidates should present – standing or sitting. A member of the panel commented on how, in a previous interview, she was surprised when all the final candidates chose to sit for their presentation, sparking a debate as to whether she was being old school, or whether the candidates were being disrespectful?

As well as the panel interview being about ‘getting’ the job, the presentation can display a lot about you as a strategic leader, manager and individual. Here are some key elements to remember:

Follow a formula

At a time when nerves can take over, a simple formula to fall back on could be just what’s needed. I recently saw this recommendation to keep audiences watching and to avoid ‘anaesthetising’ them - try the 5x5 rule.

  1. No more than five words of text per-line
  2. No more than five lines of text per slide
  3. No more than five text slides in a row
  4. No more than five bullet points
  5. No more than five slides in ten minutes

Stand Up

Standing up to present is the presenting equivalent to ‘always better to be overdressed, than underdressed’. It will give your potential future employer the chance to see how you will ‘perform’ in the role, the presence you have and the confidence you exude. It will provide you chance to physically ground yourself and pace your presentation. Standing is not for the faint hearted, you will be their focal point but surely that’s the point. You’ve made it as far as the final few, when is there a better time to show that you are THE one to choose.

Answer the Question

When it comes to questions, make sure you answer the question – it may seem simple, but think about who your audience is and what are they wanting to hear from as their potential new executive appointment. Do they want to explore your technical knowledge, your commercial awareness or your creative thinking? What experience can you bring to them? What lessons have you learnt? Make your answers relevant, recent and succinct.

Engage and interact

Maintain eye contact – this is a key opportunity to show enthusiasm for your subject. It demonstrates leadership qualities, self-confidence and knowledge. This will give them confidence in your ability to deliver for them.

For more information, please contact Hannah Wade who is an Associate Partner in the Not for Profit practice.

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