Talking to Multiple Interviewers

Last week we talked about being in an interview situation with multiple candidates. But what about the other way around — when you're the only candidate, but you're facing multiple interviewers?

Just like with phone interviews, the most important things to keep in mind are the basics: knowing what you want to communicate and practicing ahead of time, keeping your answers on point and organized, and preparing good questions to ask. But here are some other tips for when there's a table full of people asking you questions:

  • If possible, find out ahead of time the list of people you'll be interviewing with. It's OK to ask this when you arrange the interview, though not everyone will tell you (often because they don't yet know who will be available to conduct the interview). Do some research so you at least know each of their titles and which particular area they work in.
  • If you don't know everyone's name ahead of time, they will likely do introductions at the start of the interview. Jot down some quick notes of each person's first name and area of work.
  • Even if one primary person is asking the questions, address everyone equally. They're all taking their time to be there regardless of how active a role they're taking, so acknowledge that by making eye contact with each person as you talk. The same goes if they're each taking turns asking questions — don't just address your answer to the person who asked the question.
  • Some people may keep their heads down writing notes the whole time. Look at them anyway while you talk. They won't notice whether you try to make eye contact with them, but everyone else in the room will.
  • Prepare a variety of questions ahead of the interview. This allows you to direct your questions to different individuals based on their particular area. Also prepare questions that can be tailored to any individual, such as, "[Name], what is the primary way that your team in [Area] interacts with [Position Title], and how could I better support if I were in this position?"
  • If the job posting didn't specify who you'd be reporting to, ask. If the person is in the room, ask them directly about their management style. If they're not in the room, ask the group generally to describe the person's management style and anything you should know about them. This is a great chance to get some insights from multiple people at once on what to expect.
  • I've had the experience where one of the interviewers has a thick accent or is otherwise difficult to understand. Your temptation will likely be to look to someone else in the room in a gesture of "What are they saying?" Don't. It's disrespectful. Act as if you and that interviewer are the only people in the room, and kindly ask them to repeat the question.

What experiences have you had interviewing with multiple people? What tips would you add?