How Should You Greet An Interview Panel? [In-person vs. Online]

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Greeting an interview panel in person

How should you greet an interview panel?

If you’ve ever wondered this, you’re definitely not alone.

With the pandemic, the hiring process has changed dramatically, with most or all interviews being conducted online. 

This practice is likely to continue even beyond the pandemic, as there’s increased convenience for everyone involved, and particularly appeal to companies in the early stages when trying to narrow their large list of prospective employees.

In short, you should remember a few key things when you greet an interview panel:

  1. Give a polite greeting
  2. Thank the panel for their time
  3. Remind the panel why you’re there
  4. Mention any connections (when applicable)
  5. Express your gratitude
  6. Remain open to the flow of the interview

After first providing some general interview guidance, this article will cover each of these aspects of greeting an interview panel in a comprehensive way with tips and examples.

By the end, you should feel more confident about how to properly greet an interview panel, whether in-person or online. 

Interviews 101

It’s normal to be nervous before an interview, particularly a “big” one.

After all, this could decide your future to a large degree.

The last thing you want to do is bomb an interview and know that you’ve just ruined your chances to get the job you’re after.

To help boost your confidence about interviews, here are some basic tips to consider before we dive into the specifics of greeting an interview panel:

  • Be positive and pleasant — If you show a generally positive outlook and maintain a pleasant disposition throughout your interview, you’ll definitely be more appealing to the interview panel than someone who comes across as pessimistic and downcast.
  • Set goals — By preparing and discussing a list of goals that you hope to achieve with this company, it will show the interview panel that you are serious about your future with them and that you are forward-thinking and ambitious, which is the kind of employee companies tend to prefer.
  • Sell yourself — By knowing your value, you’ll be more confident in your interview and will communicate more effectively to the interview panel what you specifically can bring to their company. Take time to focus on the key skills and benefits that you’re bringing to the table. 
  • Ask thoughtful questions — Asking questions shows that you’re engaged with the interview panel. The problem, however, can be that asking obvious questions, or questions that you should know from doing your due diligence, will make you look unprepared. As long as your questions are thoughtful and intelligent, however, then they’ll help you stand out. 

Greeting an interview panel

Greeting an interview panel might seem unimportant compared to the rest of the interview.

After all, that’s where you will get into the nuts and bolts of your possible role with this company.

The greeting, however, is where you make your first impression.

Whether we like it or not, first impressions can make or break our chance of success with an interview panel. So, here are key aspects to keep in mind when you greet your own panel.

Offer a polite greeting

While you will of course want to greet your interview panel politely, your polite greetings should start at the door or even the parking lot.

If you’re impolite or condescending to the people you deem less important, word of your rude demeanor may make its way to the interview panel.

When it comes to your actual interview panel, say something friendly such as “It’s so nice to finally meet you,” while maintaining eye contact, showing a pleasant smile, and giving a firm handshake (for in-person interviews, of course). 

Make sure you use polite terms of address as well, such as “miss/Ms.,” “Mrs.,” and “Mr.” When in doubt, just say “Hello.” Only use first names if you’re already on a first-name basis.

Show some appreciation for the interviewer’s time

It’s always great to show that you appreciate and respect the interview panel’s time. So, in addition to being punctual, go out of your way to thank them for their time.

You can say something like “Thank you for taking time out of your day to interview me today.” This will help you make a great first impression by showing you’re both polite and well aware of the time they are spending to interview you. 

Recap why you’re there

It can be a good idea to remind the interview why you’re there, as they may be interviewing dozens of candidates and for different roles.

You can very briefly introduce yourself so as to remind them who you are and why exactly you’re there. You can mention basic facts about your experience and what position you’re applying for. 

Who you know helps in an interview

Although this might not always apply, knowing someone at the company can give you a solid advantage. As such, reminding the interview panel of a connection if you have one could help boost you in their eyes before they begin conducting the actual interview itself.

Just make sure that you aren’t heavy-handed in your approach and spend too much time discussing your connection. You can keep things simple by saying something like “Michelle and I go way back, so I was delighted when she let me know about this position opening up. It would be great to have the chance to work together again as we really thrived at our previous company.”

Gratitude is key  

Again, you don’t want to be heavy-handed or excessive with your gratitude and come across as needy, but showing some gratitude throughout the beginning of the interview will help ensure you make a strong first impression.

People tend to appreciate good manners, and polite people will often make for the best employees in terms of chemistry and camaraderie. You can say something simple like “I really appreciate the opportunity to interview for this position.” 

Let the interviewer lead the conversation 

One of the worst mistakes to make with an interview panel is to assume a domineering role.

You are there to be interviewed and, as such, need to give way to the interview panel. By remaining open to the natural flow of the interview and the wishes of the interview panel, you will come across as flexible and polite.

If, on the other hand, you try squeezing in a long-winded introduction right at the start or force the interview into a particular direction from the outset, you’ll come across as rude and as someone who might potentially be difficult to work with.

In-person vs online interviews

Whether your interview is in-person or online, your greeting of the interview panel should essentially be the same. Here are a few tips, however, for both in-person and online interviews.

In-person tips

When interviewing in-person, body language and manners are even more important than with online interviews, as you will be walking, standing, and sitting with the panel as opposed to just sitting in a remote location.

Pay close attention to your body language and keep good manners with these tips: 

  • Look for body language cues to decide whether the panel wants to shake hands. This has, of course, become further complicated in the wake of Covid-19.
  • Maintain a comfortable amount of eye contact. 
  • If you are seated when the panel enters, be sure to stand up to introduce yourself and shake hands and remain standing until the rest of the panel goes to sit.
  • If it isn’t obvious, you can politely ask where you should sit. It will likely be obvious, though—in most cases, your seat will face the panel.

Online tips 

In today’s world, being tech-savvy is important for most jobs. By showing that you’re at ease with an online interview, it might help your chances. Here are some general tips:

  • When not talking, use the mute button to minimize noise/echo.
  • Look into the camera when speaking.
  • Choose a professional, non-distracting background.
  • Make sure you have good lighting.
  • Choose a quiet location.
  • Turn off or silence your phone.
  • Stay focused.
  • Make sure your laptop is charged or plugged in.
  • Do a test run to make sure your webcam is working.
  • Make sure your internet is reliable.
  • Dress professionally (at least with what’s visible!)

Wrapping up

With the economy in recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, more and more people are trying to hone their interview skills in preparation for job interviews.

With both online and in-person interviews as possibilities, however, it may be confusing or anxiety-inducing to figure out how you should conduct yourself based on the format.

The good thing is that, in general, you should do the same things whether you’re greeting an online or in-person interview panel. That means giving a polite greeting, thanking the panel for their time, reminding them why you’re there, mentioning someone you know at the company (if it applies), expressing your gratitude, and remaining open to the natural flow of the interview.

If you keep these aspects in mind, you will greet your interview panel in a way that makes a fantastic first impression, which can help set you apart in a crowded field of candidates. Just remember to be polite, grateful, thoughtful, and mildly submissive—this is their interview to conduct, after all, not your own. 

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