Preparing an 'opening statement' for a panel interview - Albuquerque Journal

Preparing an ‘opening statement’ for a panel interview

Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a career coach and the founder of the leading career site www.workitdaily.com. Dale Dauten is founder of The Innovators’ Lab and author of a novel about H.R., “The Weary Optimist.”

Dear J.T. & Dale: I have a panel interview coming up. For this interview, I have to prepare a five-minute opening statement, which, in my opinion, is quite long and intimidating. I need advice on how to put together a powerful message, one that’s memorable. Please help! — Kim

DALE: I know that J.T. has a comprehensive plan for this and you’re in good hands, but let me start by saying, this is GREAT! Sure, it’s pressure, but remember what Billie Jean King said, “Pressure is a privilege.” They are giving you an opportunity to make a convincing first impression and then time to make a second impression, too. So don’t go into your prep work grumbling; no, go in smiling.

J.T.: Yes, how I love this! My advice is to have five slides, a minute each. The slides should be visual — that is, not a lot of text. The goal is to keep them focused on you and what you are saying, not what’s written on the slides. Here’s what I would suggest as the outline:

Slide 1: Picture of you and quick bulleted timeline of education/career.

Slide 2: Play “Two lies and the truth.” Put three pics up and say one of these things is true about me. Let everyone guess which one is true. It’s a fun way to engage the audience!

Slide 3: Have a single photo that depicts/represents in some way the biggest learning moment you’ve had on the job related to the work you’ll be doing for them — share the story.

Slide 4: Choose another picture to showcase the time you felt most proud of your work and how it relates to this role.

Slide 5: Top three to five bullet points of why you respect/admire what the company does and explain that’s why you want to work for them.

This will ensure your presentation is engaging and relevant.

DALE: Slide 5 is my favorite: You prove you’re a team player by showing respect for them and by not making the entire presentation about you. But, as for your prep, rehearse and rehearse again. Then rehearse in front of friends who’ll be honest. In the words of legendary football coach Nick Saban, “Don’t practice till you can do it right; practice till you can’t do it wrong.”

J.T.: Sounds like a lot, and it is, but have fun with it — these are your future co-workers!

Dear J.T. & Dale: I had a second interview with a company, and it went really well. They said I would hear from them in a few days. It’s been four days and I’m starting to get worried. What do I do? Reach out or just continue to wait? — Jalen

DALE: It’s important that you follow up after an interview. I hope you sent a quick “thank you” note the same day or next day. Then, you wait a while before sending an upbeat inquiry, usually waiting till just after you were supposed to hear from them. What is the hiring manager or HR person going to think when they see that inquiry? It’s going to be, “He wants the job, and he’s the sort of professional who follows through.”

J.T.: Since they said they’d know in a few days, it’s totally OK to go ahead and follow up. BUT, I suggest two things:

1. Never contact and ask about the job on a Monday. That’s a busy day and people are struggling to get back in groove. Give them the day to get caught up (and get in a better mood).

2. Keep the message simple like this: “Dear __, I wanted to be proactive and follow up to see if there is anything else I can provide to further my candidacy for the __ role. I would like very much to work for your company. Thank you for the opportunity to interview.”

DALE: Perfect. It seems that it always takes longer than it should to hear back. After all, they’re hiring because they need help. By staying in touch and letting them know you’re buttoned-up and interested in the job, you’re helping.

Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a career coach and the founder of the leading career site www.workitdaily.com. Dale Dauten is founder of The Innovators’ Lab and author of a novel about H.R., “The Weary Optimist.” Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via email, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803. (c) 2022 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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