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Interviews can take on different formats, from one-to-one discussions through to group interviews. But a scenario that most social work candidates will face at some stage during their career – particularly when applying for managerial and specialist positions - is a panel interview. This can see two or more interviewers asking the candidate questions, often from different perspectives.

Preparation is essential

Whether you are applying for a senior social worker role, management position or a specialist role in child support or adult social care, there is always the possibility of being interviewed by a panel, which will mean you will need to modify your preparation and approach.

Plan your approach

A good place to start is to discover who will be on the interview panel; what their names and positions are and which department they are from. Try to also think what questions each person might ask and how they may ask them. This can be shaped firstly by the parameters of the job you are applying for and by the positions of the specific panel members. It may help to speak to close friends or colleagues and even run-through what you might say.

Include all panel members in your answers

Once in the interview, introduce yourself to each panel member and remember their names and positions to ensure you know who is asking the question and who you are addressing with the answers.

Within a panel interview, directly address the person asking the question and make eye contact but as you expand upon your answer, take care to include other members of the panel to ensure they feel that they are part of the conversation.

Demonstrate communication skills

A panel interview is a good opportunity to demonstrate the extent of your communication and listening skills.

Of course, an interview is a two-way process and at some stage you will be invited to ask questions of panel members, so have a number of questions prepared, just as you would with a conventional individual interview. 

An opportunity to shine

Whilst you may feel daunted by the prospect of a panel interview, there can be some advantages for you as an interviewee. This type of interview gives you the opportunity to clarify points and expand upon you safeguarding experience in more detail. After all, you’ll likely answer multiple questions from different perspectives giving you the chance to share more of your specific experience. 

Embrace it as an opportunity to show confidence in addressing a group of interviewees in a process underpinned by your careful preparation.

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