I remember my first ever panel interview…vivid in my mind to this day, but more vivid on the experience and how I felt and less on the details actually. I had just graduated from college and was home to hit the interview trail. After what seemed like several rounds of interviews with one of the largest PR firms in the state of Ohio, I was chosen out of 30+ candidates to interview with the Cleveland Cavaliers. They were one of the biggest accounts for this firm. So here I am…not sure what to expect. College didn’t prepare you for such a strenuous activity – the dreaded panel! I wanted this job more than anything – mind you, this was way before King James and the crew, but the prestige of being an Account Executive for the CAVS was like a dream come true! Funny thing is…four candidates were chosen; me being one of them. I felt like it was college hoops all over again – The Final Four. Who would be the ultimate winner?
So I donned my best interview suit, had portfolio in hand with questions to ask, and a bundle of nerves that even yoga and deep breathing exercises couldn’t calm! I arrived 10 to 15 minutes early, sat in the most uncomfortable chair in the waiting area, and while I was waiting, I tried feverishly to wipe the sweat from my palms onto my coat. Then the receptionist called me up and led me down this long hallway, anxiousness filling my chest.
I enter into a room that is surrounded by windows on one wall, overlooking downtown Cleveland and Lake Erie. I said, laughing to myself, “whoa, this could all be yours if you pass the interview test…this is it!” What was more intimidating was the 20 foot conference room table with at least 10 chairs on my side, and 10 on the other. They had me sit smack-dab in the middle on one side. And sitting on the other—the INTERVIEW PANEL!!! About five people sat across from me — two from the PR agency, and three representing the CAVS Marketing group. GULP! My mouth immediately became very, very dry. Never before was I nervous like I was nervous that day.
One of the panel interviewers, Pam (who I had networked with while at college) was there, providing me with this subtle encouragement and support from the other side of the table. Thinking to myself, “Let the questions begin…”
How do you think I did?