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How to get a job as a PM – Part 3 (final) – Panel Interviews

Table of Contents

This article is the final one of our three sections on getting a job as a PM. Stay tuned; I might release a Q&A with some of your questions as an additional for this series.

Now that we have reviewed CVs / Resumes, Cover Letters and job interviews, we will prepare ourselves for Panel Interviews.

1. What is a Panel Interview?

A Panel interview is when two or more interviewers interview you, the candidate.

Panel interviews for jobs like strategists, project managers, product owners, business analysts, consultants, and others are common industry standards; they evaluate your knowledge and communication skills and how well you work under pressure.

This type of interview typically involves team members, hiring managers, HR, and people you might be working closely with. This interview is almost an industry standard, allowing all stakeholders to see your work and character first-hand and meet you.

After the Panel Interview, these stakeholders will provide feedback on your interview, and the next steps will be decided.

2. How to prepare for a Panel Interview

I know preparing for this kind of interview can be nerve-wracking (trust me, I’ve been there), but it doesn’t have to be.

One of the best tips I can give you is to remember that, even though this is a fictional scenario, this is your project, product, and problem. You own it. So nobody in that panel interview will know more about the problem better than you. So when you prepare that presentation, keep in mind that you own it.

Know your interviewers

Before anything, I’d suggest you know the company and your interviewers (if disclosed). Knowing your interviewers’ backgrounds, interests, and roles can benefit you as their questions might come from this. For example, if one of your interviewers is someone from sales, this person might ask you, “What do you know about a fixed contract?”

Understand the problem / the project

When preparing for a Panel Interview, the first step is to understand the problem the company is trying to solve.

Most Panel interviews come with a background of the problem, a set of questions/problems to solve or a big problem to solve.

First, I need you to understand the project’s background, the most important thing we are trying to solve, and where we are in the project. Here are some examples:

  1. We are tech company who has very low sales, we need to release this new product to the market before anyone else. We are in the development phase already and facing a massive blocker, how do we handle it and tell the client?
  2. We have been running this project for more than 3 years now, we have spent more than 70% than the initial budget, the client hates us and everybody in the company is tired of this project / it is a black whole eating all of our money. What would you do?
  3. We need to save costs in the company, we don’t want to fire anyone and we need these technolgoies to help us to do that, either generate more revenue or save costs. Here are the initiatives we can do. Discuss.

You do need to understand which problem you are trying to solve, even if it feels difficult, as questions from your interviewers with come from that initial problem.

You also need to understand where you are in the project; it is very different to be in the initiation phase than in the middle or at the end of it. Understanding where you are in the project will help you set up the correct project management tools.

Ask Questions

One of the biggest tips I can give you for panel interviews is to Ask Questions!

A lot of people invent their own backgrounds or make assumptions about the cases, but if you ask the hiring manager questions, it shows that you have an interest in the case and in the company.

And yes, I know a lot of the cases ask you to make assumptions on your own, but trust me, asking questions about the case can give you a competitive advantage over other candidates.

Obviously, if the hiring manager is not getting back to you or just answering with “make your own assumptions, please”, don’t push it, but also don’t make the case harder for yourself. A lot of people make assumptions to put themselves in the “worst-case scenario” and “show off”, but this can be counterproductive.

If you have to make assumptions, come to a happy middle, allow yourself to show the Panel that you are more than capable of handling difficult situations, but also don’t make the case so difficult that you spend all your time on the problem rather than the solution.


Most Panel interviews (as with any other interviews) have a time limit. You normally have to do a presentation in a panel interview, so time yourself and practice your presentation several times. It is essential that you end your presentation on time and that you are able to show all your points.

Remember that in real life, clients, partners, suppliers, and other stakeholders have busy agendas, too, so you need to show that you are capable of making all your points within the time limit.

What to include in a Presentation?

What to include in your presentation will depend on the case (the problem and the situation you are in) but here is some high-level guidelines that I think can apply for most cases:

  1. Provide an overview of the client/company this case is for. e.g.: is a big insurance company that is a leader in the industry.
  2. Explain the problem e.g.: low sales over the last couple of years.
  3. Highlight which assumptions you have made for the case. This is new information for everyone on the Panel.
  4. Explain the solution to the problem. e.g, implement marketing campaigns.
  5. Explain how you would manage the problem/project. E.g. – Project Governance / Project Strategy
  6. Considerations of your solution. e.g. – are we going to pay for this solution?
  7. Project Governance. e.g – because we are about to go to the initiation phase, we need a sales handover.
    1. If you consider it appropriate, include what kind of approach you will take and why. For example, if we are going to take a waterfall approach, why? Or if it is a recovery project, what are the steps you will consider to bring it back to green?
  8. Questions. Allow your interviewers to ask you any questions about the case.

Extra tips:

 I know you might be nervous during this interview, but remember to speak clearly and slowly for your Panel; you need them to hear you and understand what you are saying. Keeping eye contact with them can also be beneficial, as you want them to keep attention to your presentation. This can also help you to realise if everybody is understanding what you are saying.

How to close a Panel Interview

I would suggest two things to close Panel Interviews.

The first one is to be prepared to ask your interviewers questions. Questions like where do you think the company direction is going? Or any others you might be interested in knowing about them or the company are appropriate. I wouldn’t suggest asking questions about salaries here, but questions about the business or roles are more than okay.

Once the interview is over, send a thank you note to all your interviewers. They took the time to listen to you and your presentation. Besides, only a few people do this. Trust me, sending even a quick email to say thank you for your time can make a difference between you and other candidates.

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