Partner Panel Interviews within many of the Big 4 firms start in the UK start in the summer months, and then continue on for potentially another 9 months. It’s a similar time scale for many Big 4 firms worldwide. I.e. each person on Partner Track will undertake multiple Partner Panel Interviews. Often over a period of 6-9 months.
Many large firms will make their senior managers undergo a Partner Panel Interview to get to Partner. These nerve-wracking interviews are not just reserved for directors or associate partners wanting to make it to partner!
Therefore, in this blog post, I will share 6 tips for preparing for your partnership panel interview or just your partner panel interview. Whether or not you are going for a director or partner position, the same advice holds true for a partner panel interview.
Don’t wing your partner panel interview
Your partnership panel interview is not something you can rock up to and hope to succeed with no preparation. Of course, you know that. This means allocating time for the month before to prepare for your partner panel interview, to ensure that you are at your best and word-perfect on the day. Unfortunately, client work can often scupper your plans for preparation. Only you can ensure your preparation time for the partner panel interview is sacrosanct.
Make sure you haven’t left anything out with our Partner Panel Checklist! Download it for free here. (Our Checklist is just one of the many things in our Progress To Partner membership site which will help you make partner)
Take control of the panel
Your partners are looking for people who are acting as if they are one of them. This means having a discussion with them about your Business Case, not presenting to them your Business Case. The best way to do this is to take control at the beginning of the partner panel interview and say what you want to happen. E.g.
I’d like to go through my business case for 5 or so minutes and then open it up to a discussion.
I’ve lost count of the times people have told me that they got feedback that they presented rather than had a discussion with the partners in their partnership panel interview.
Anticipate questions – particularly around the weakness of your Business Case
There isn’t such a thing as a perfect Business Case. If you think you have one, then you will probably not pass your partner panel interview because you are not self-aware or commercial enough. There are always weaknesses in your Business Case. Or there are question marks about your ability to achieve the promise of your Business Case. Make sure you can identify what these weaknesses will be.
If you can’t do this, then ask your partner, mentor or sponsor. They will find them for you! Once you have identified your weaknesses, anticipate the questions you will be asked about them. These questions will come, so you need to be ready for them. How can you mitigate the risks? What personal strengths do you have which will compensate for the weaknesses you all have?
One of the most sought-after courses in our subscriber-only site Progress to Partner is called “How to Build a Cast-Iron Business Case for Partner”. We think it’s a must-have in your arsenal of tools and guidance to help with your career progression. There is also a section on the Partnership Admissions process with guides and recordings to help you navigate the system. Check it out!
Be really clear about your message
When you are presenting your Business Case at a partner panel interview, it’s tempting to want to tell the partners EVERYTHING. There isn’t time, and you will lose impact if you do this. This means being really clear about your key messages. These typically are:
- The size of the market and the opportunity for the firm now and in the future – typically 3 years into the future
- Your evidence which demonstrates you can capitalise on the opportunity for the firm
- How you are developing your business and resources to be able to take advantage of the opportunities outlined in your business case
Practice, practice, practice
Nearly all partner panel interviews will require you to present your Business Case and then have a question-and-answer discussion with the partners. You need to be word-perfect for the presentation. This means practising it repeatedly until it is stuck in your head. After all, nerves can do funny things to you! Your key messages must be locked in so they just come out the way you want them to.
Take a look at our on-demand courses that are all aimed at helping you get noticed for the “partner track”. Our on-demand courses will make sure you are doing what it takes to make partner. We even have a self-study course on how to build your very own cast-iron Business Case for partner. Premium members of Progress To Partner get access to all of our on-demand courses.
Use a Talk Sheet not slides
You only have (normally) a maximum of 20 mins to present your Business Case to the partners on your panel. We’ve had clients who’ve only been given 10 mins to present their Business Case.
When you present your Business Case, you want to create a lively discussion between you and the panel members. Presenting a large slide deck to your panel will just not cut it. They will be snoozing in their seats before you know it… and with it, any hope you had of making partner.
Here’s a snippet of our recorded masterclass, ‘How to ace your Partner Panel Interview’ which is in our Progress To Partner membership site. This snippet of the masterclass talks about the importance of ditching the slides and using a Talk Sheet. Watch the video to how Josh was seen to have done the best ever presentation at his Partner Panel Interview by using a Talk Sheet and ditching the text-heavy slides.
You normally need a one-page handout called a Talk Sheet to avoid the risk of boring your partners when you present.
See the example on the left of a Talk Sheet based upon a successful client we worked with who made it to partner in his Big 4 firm at the first time of asking. If you want to pass, it really pays to prepare for your partner panel interview
Of course, it would make your life much easier if you could use our Talk Sheet template as the starting point for your own Talk Sheet. That’s why we put it into a Powerpoint presentation which you can easily change the data and colour scheme to make your own.
Click here to download the FREE template we used to make this Talk Sheet to build your own Talk Sheet in under 60 minutes.
To learn more about using a Talk Sheet read our article on creating your own Talk Sheet by clicking here.
What’s in Progress To Partner which will help you with your Partnership Panel Interview?
Progress to Partner is our membership site that will give your the knowledge AND confidence to fly through this final step up to partner.
It’s like a Netflix for your career in the professions. Find what you need to watch or read at the time you need it. Within the site, you’ll find over 150+ courses, videos, checklists, templates and plans to help you progress your career to partner. Amongst the many curated resources (no more unnecessary scrolling or searching), you’ll find:
- On-demand courses on how to create and articulate your business case, including our most downloaded course “How to Build a Cast-Iron Business Case for Partner”
- A section on the Partnership Admissions process with guides and recordings to help you find your way through the process with your sanity intact.
- Recordings, templates and checklists on how to ace your partner panel interview
- Proven advice on how to still do the day job and find the time to get through the Partner Track process