Panel / Traditional / Informal Conversational Interview

What is a Panel Interview / Traditional Interview?

(Panel Interviews are often referred to as Traditional Interviews or Informal Conversational Interviews.)

A panel interview is an interview where the  candidate is interviewed by a group of interviewers.

In past years, questions generally consisted of traditional interview questions, such as Why do you want to attend our program?", "What are your strengths?", "Tell me about yourself.", and other similar questions.  Candidates have come to expect these types of questions, and with much practice, responses can come across as being robotic. Recently, there has been a trend by some programs to include more abstract interview questions to try to extract non-rehearsed responses, such as "If you were a flavour of ice cream, what would it be, and why? "  Regardless of the question being asked, the primary objectives of the panel interview remain consistent.

Objectives of the Panel Interview.

The primary objective of the panel interview is to assess whether you possess specific personal traits and characteristics regarded as necessary to become a competent and caring professional. The interviewers will ask questions designed to discover who you are as a person and how you will conduct yourself, both as a student in their program, and after graduation. While there is no way to predict exactly what you will be asked in a panel interview, certain topics invariably arise relating to your university experience, your work and extracurricular activities, your motivation for pursuing this career path, and your unique attributes. Be prepared to talk in detail about anything you mentioned in your application.

Tips when Preparing for a Panel Interview.

Being selected to interview is a significant achievement in itself and a key step toward your acceptance. Universities are expressing their interest in you and want the chance to meet with you to determine if you are well-suited to their programs. This is your opportunity to shine and distinguish yourself from the competition. Although interview questions can come in a variety of forms, you can begin to prepare yourself for this challenging component of the application process by keeping in mind the following suggestions:

Know Yourself

Reflect on how your life experiences influenced your decision to apply to professional school. What do you hope to accomplish and contribute if you get accepted (including what you hope to accomplish as a student and after graduation in your career)? How do you know what a career in this field actually entails? Think about your strengths and weaknesses. Express your own thoughts, not what you believe the interviewer wants to hear. Think about what information you want the interviewers to know about you that demonstrates why you will be an outstanding student and an ideal match for their particular school.

Know the School

The admissions committee will certainly want to know why you are applying to their school. Therefore, research the school thoroughly before the interview by speaking with faculty, current students, and alumni. Develop a list of insightful questions about each school's program. Your questions should show some familiarity with the school. For example, the question: “I noticed you use letter grades rather than pass/fail as a means of evaluation. How does this affect competition among students?” shows more familiarity with the school than the question: “What type of grading system do you use?” Well thought-out questions demonstrate that you have researched their program and are enthusiastic about attending the school.

Know What’s Going on in the World and in the Relevant Field

Professional schools like to see well-rounded applicants who follow what’s going on in the world and in the field. Interviewers may ask you about major national issues and/or your views on some of the problems facing professionals in the work force.

Read newspapers, magazine articles and other informative publications. Typically, there is no right or wrong answer but you are expected to have given some thought to the major issues.