Panel interviews pose unique challenges for applicants. When you interview with a single person, you essentially have a conversation with someone who might offer you a job. In panel interviews, the situation is a hybrid of a conversation and public speaking engagement.
When it comes to the content of your responses, you should answer as you would in any other interviewing scenario. The trick is to communicate with each person on the panel.
The hiring manager is the ringmaster of this circus. In most cases, he or she asks the prepared questions, and other panelists are free to ask follow-up questions as they desire. Sometimes, the hiring manager allows other panelists to ask some of the prepared questions.
When answering a question in a panel interview, address your response primarily to the panelist who asked it. After your first few sentences, shift your eyes and gestures to other panelists. For prepared questions, you should divide your attention about equally among the panelists. Keep in mind the hiring manager makes the final decision, so consider making particularly strong or memorable statements toward him or her.
For a follow-up question, devote more attention to the asker. Other panelists may have had the same question in mind, but there is no way to know. What you do know is the follow-up question is of particular interest to the asker.
Pay attention to panelists' body language. They can tell you whether you are making sense. If one of them looks confused, don't be afraid to say something like, "I don't think I'm communicating clearly. Let me explain it another way." Then, rephrase what you said from where you think you lost the confused panelist. Showing you can read your audience is good in any interview, and rephrasing affords you a second chance to make a point panelists may have missed the first time you said it.