How to Ace the Panel Interview

May 25th, 2012

Ordinary one-on-one interviews can be challenging enough, but hiring managers sometimes decide to make the selection process more efficient and gain a better sense of a candidate’s readiness by having him or her face a group of interviewers all at once, rather than a single person. This is often called a panel interview, and this interview format can take place in person or via conference call. In either case, the pressure on the applicant can be high. But remember, the rewards of such a situation rise along with the risk. Acing an interview conducted by a large, intimidating panel can be one of the most satisfying feelings in the world. Here are a few tips that can help you shine.

First, know what to expect. Don’t be caught off guard by the number of people in the room, and don’t be surprised or rattled by predictable questions. The following questions are very common and are likely to be asked no matter the circumstances:

Tell us about yourself.
What are you looking for, exactly?
Why should we hire you?

Second, breathe. Candidates in high pressure interviews often become tense and start taking short shallow breaths that contribute to the body’s general stress response. When this happens, thoughts can get panicky, speech can become rushed, and the stakes can seem higher than they actually are. Paying attention to your breathing will help you think clearly and maintain better control over your words and gestures.

Third, slow down. It’s natural to be nervous, and your audience will expect this to some degree. Rushing to answer every question and blurting jumbled responses will not impress anyone. Your interviewers set aside time to be here. They want to hear what you have to say. So don’t hurry. After each question, try to pause and gather your thoughts for a full second before you speak.

Third, rein it in. Whatever “it” may be, take it down a notch. If you have the urge to joke, don’t. If you’re feeling a little overconfident, scale it back before you begin to sound arrogant. If you’re depending on the flash of your million-dollar smile, flash with restraint. Your personality will come through no matter what you do. That’s a good thing. Just don’t let any one aspect of your persona become over-exaggerated and steal focus from your words, your background, and your other fine qualities.

Finally, enter and exit with grace. Show up prepared, neatly dressed, and at least ten minutes early. Try not to sit until you’re invited to do so. Never interrupt your interviewers, and give your undivided attention to whoever is speaking at any given moment. When the interview ends, thank the interviewers, and remember to say goodbye before leaving the room. For more advice on acing the interview contact PSU.

Five Non-Traditional Interview Questions that Help Select the Best Candidates

May 18th, 2012

On the surface, the interview process can seem like a polite, straightforward conversation in which a manager gains a sense of a candidate’s abilities and the candidate gains greater insight into a position before making the decision to join a company. But in reality, the interview can be a complex exchange with high stakes on both sides. Hiring is expensive; managers want to make sure they’re making the most informed choice between all of the final contenders. And applicants want to find out all they can about the nature of the workplace, the position, and the company before they sign on for a long term commitment. In both cases, volumes of vital information need to be exchanged before either party can confidently move forward, and all of this usually happens during the course of one or two thirty minute sessions.

How can your managers make the most of this brief opportunity? A successful interview starts with a list of meaningful and appropriate questions. There are no substitutes for standard, indispensable questions like the following:

Tell me about your last position.
Now that we’ve spoken about the nature of the company and this job, how do you think your skills and background will contribute to our success?
What are your long term professional goals?

It’s important for a manager to inquire clearly and directly into these three areas. But once these issues have been addressed, a few non-traditional questions can help the manager understand the applicant on a personal level. Unexpected questions can test an applicant’s wit and candor, and may reveal her ability to think critically and articulate her insights. Try these five questions to gain a more complex picture of interviewees:

Have you ever failed to meet a goal or deadline while working with a team? If so, what happened and what did you learn?

Describe your worst interpersonal conflict in the workplace. How did you work to overcome this challenge?

This job may involve (insert the most challenging or unpleasant aspect of the position at hand). How do you see yourself handling this?

Have you ever faced a situation in which your supervisor expected something from you that conflicted with the best interests of the company? How did you respond?

Describe your proudest professional moment.

Remember that non-traditional interview questions should always stay professional and relevant. Never ask silly questions that may insult the candidate or undermine her impression of your company, and never bait candidates, ask trick questions, or expect them to grovel for the job. But within these limits, feel free to exercise your creativity. For help and inspiration, contact the experts at PSU.

Use Staffing Services to Increase the Productivity of Your Workforce

May 8th, 2012

How can a staffing firm raise your productivity? What can a team of staffing experts add to your recruiting process that you couldn’t do on your own? And how can a staffing firm take a finely tuned, well managed HR process and make it even more effective? Employers all over the country are asking these questions, especially those who are facing tight budgets and thinly stretched resources.

Staffing firms are a clear choice when it comes to complex recruiting. Most employers know that a wide net can bring in a broader and potentially more qualified pool of applicants, and established staffing firms can reach out to job seekers in ways that lend support to almost any recruiting plan. But you may not realize how much a staffing firm can also add to your hiring, screening and training efforts, which can strengthen your overall productivity and bolster your bottom line. Consider the following ways that a staffing firm can contribute to your HR workflow.


A professional staffing firm can review your first round of candidates and conduct initial phone screenings so you don’t have to. First round screening and phone interviews can be time consuming, tedious and expensive. To get around this process, you can narrow your initial applicant pool. But here’s a better idea: Outsource this necessary chore to a qualified firm staffed by trained experts who know how to identify positive traits and red flags in first round candidates.

Testing and Background Checks

Once your final candidates are notified, a high quality staffing firm can move forward with necessary testing that can further lift your hiring burden and reduce your risk. Appropriate testing methods rely on volumes of data paired with an understanding of the requirements of the position and the needs of your company. Criminal background checks and drug screenings can help you further whittle away your options to find the perfect candidate, helping you cut costs and add talent to your team.

Training Services

But hiring and recruiting aren’t the only ways a great staffing firm can lift your bottom line. Safety and conduct training are a must in almost every workplace, and an evaluation of your overall training needs may reveal the benefits of handing some or all of the process over to professionals. Save on your investment in materials, preparation, money and time, and find out how our researched training strategies can increase retention and boost productivity.

For more information about recruiting, hiring, training and general HR management, contact the experts at PSU today.

Five Types of Hiring Managers Who May be Interviewing You, and How to Prepare for Each One

May 2nd, 2012

Interviews can be rattling no matter what kind of personality you face across the table, but a little preparation can allow you keep your nerves in check and stay focused on your qualifications. It may help to know that hiring managers often fall into basic categories based on their management styles and their approach to the interview process. If you recognize a few of these categories, you’ll be less likely to be caught off guard.

The Friendly Type

The friendly interviewer makes it her mission to put you at ease. She’s welcoming and open, she has a warm handshake, she makes steady eye contact, and she smiles in a disarming and easygoing way. Friendliness works well for interviewers because it’s a great way to help candidates overcome their nerves and reveal their true natures. If you face a friendly interviewer, feel free to follow her lead and relax. Enjoy your conversation, and let the interviewer see the honesty and confidence that she’s looking for. But don’t relax too much. Remember to stay professional and focused, and don’t leave without making sure she has a strong sense of your skills and qualifications.

The Rule Book

This interviewer has no intention of wandering from the script. His goal is to follow a specific interview protocol to the letter, and his questions and demeanor may seem rigid, as if he’s checking each question off a list. Some interviewers adopt this style because it standardizes each interview and keeps the process fair for every applicant. Some do it because they’re afraid to go off the script and make mistakes. And some just do it because they’re nervous, like you, and they don’t enjoy high stakes conversations with strangers. Don’t be put off by the Rule Book’s robotic demeanor. But stay honest, and don’t be tempted to respond to scripted, clichéd questions with scripted, clichéd answers.

The Specific Searcher

There’s not much you can do to prepare for an encounter with the specific searcher. This is the interviewer who’s looking for an exact set of character traits or qualities that you simply may or may not have. She could be looking for personality clone of the person who held the position last, or she may have very clear cut ideas about what she wants that may or may not be make sense to you and may be impossible to discern. Don’t try to second guess her or scan for her approval. You’ll only get confused and discouraged. Just be yourself.

The Jerk

In any other venue, you know exactly how to feel when you get caught in a conversation with The Jerk. And if you can, you walk away. But in a job interview, it can be easy to let The Jerk’s rude remarks or bad jokes fluster you. If your interviewer baits you, insults you, demeans you or seems to openly dislike you, stay calm, and remember that an interview goes two ways. This bad behavior may reveal a company culture that you’re better off without. For more helpful tips and interview advice, contact PSU and talk to a job search expert.

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