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It may take you out of your comfort zone, but a panel interview is a scenario criminal justice professionals will become increasingly likely to face as they seek a new role.

Once the preserve of the academic sector, it is becoming more common in the criminal justice sector, particularly for specialist offender healthcare roles.

It can be a daunting experience, particularly if you are used to being interviewed in a one-to-one environment, but with the right approach and preparation, a panel format job interview need not be the nerve-wracking experience you initially feared.

Indeed, it is an opportunity to be confident, focussed and show that you can remain calm under pressure.

Tips to success

Whether you are being interviewed for substance misuse positions, as a healthcare professional working inside prisons, working with young offenders or seeking probation officer roles, here are five tips to help you succeed at a panel interview.

Tip 1:

Ask who is on the panel, and once you know their names find out a little more about them. Focus on their areas of interest and expertise, and their roles, and then formulate specific questions to ask individual panel members when the opportunity arises. Try also to think what questions each person might ask you and how they may ask them.

Tip 2:

Preparation is the key to success in any interview but more so when facing a panel. Be prepared to talk about your skills and experience but have valid and relevant examples ready. If working with young offenders, you may want to discuss examples of your successes with young people and perhaps how that may be applied or adapted in a new role. Good preparation places you in a strong position to face a panel with confidence and also have the flexibility to think on your feet and better respond to questions and scenarios as they arise.

Tip 3:

Avoid concentrating on one panel member. Engage with them all and do that at the earliest opportunity by introducing yourself to each when you enter the interview room and then remember their names, positions and roles. When asked a question, engage with the interviewer asking it but ensure you address your answer to the whole panel.

Tip 4:

Remain calm and focussed. Panel interviews can become overwhelming, particularly when asked questions by several members. It is important to not be rushed. Control the pace and address each question effectively, giving yourself time to explain your answer.

Tip 5:

Demonstrate your communication and listening skills through the way you make connections during the process with each member of the panel. Making connections and linking answers back to earlier points where necessary can illustrate that you not only understand and have a grasp of the detail, but also embrace the big picture too.
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