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What’s In a Second Interview?

By: Michelle Metzger

You have gone through the meticulous process of customizing your cover letter and resume for a particular position.  You may have had a phone interview and were then invited to interview in person.  You made it through that in-person interview and feel pretty good about it.  And then the call comes for a second in-person interview.  What now?  Maybe you weren’t expecting a second interview.  You may feel that everything seemed to have been covered in the first interview, so you’re wondering what could possibly happen in the second.

Situational Interview Questions

First things first, you should gather confidence from knowing that if you hadn’t performed well in the first interview, you wouldn’t have been asked back for the second round.  Second interview questions may be more specific to the job and you may also get some more “Tell me about a time you…” prompts.  These are called situational interview questions.  Be prepared to have stories and examples for situations that come up in the work place.  Do not use generalities like, “I usually do this….” Or, “I think I would…”  You want to use an actual and specific example even if you feel the question asks about a situation you encounter often.  Take some time prior to the interview to recall real-life situations in which you demonstrate the qualifications you bring to the organization.  Focus specifically on examples that will illustrate the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for the position.

Communicate How You will Enhance thee Organization

Be able to articulate how you will be successful in the job, and what attributes you have.  Basically, know what you would bring to the position and add to the company.  Why should you be their top choice?  The interview process isn’t just about you as a candidate finding a job, it is about the company seeking to enhance their organization through a new hire.  Throughout the entire job application process you are a salesperson. The product you are selling is yourself.  You must be able to communicate your strengths and skills without sounding arrogant.

New Faces

Second interviews often give the direct supervisors of the position (if they are not the interviewer) the opportunity to meet the top candidates from the first round.  Don’t be surprised to encounter several new faces as you may be introduced to potential coworkers, supervisors, or other key players in the company.  In fact, a second interview may even be a panel interview.

New Questions from You

Think of a few questions that you didn’t ask in your first interview.  Review the company website and do some research to help you find good questions to ask.  Here are a few things you could consider asking about:

  • The culture, or personality, of the company
  • The new hire training program
  • What the top priorities for the new hire in this position will be for the first 90 days of employment
  • Why the position is vacant
  • Focus on more specific details of the work itself including the rewards and challenges of the work.
  • What the interviewer(s) most enjoy about working for the company

The Subject of Pay May Arise

A second interview might lead to the subject of pay.  Do not be the one to bring this up first, though.  You do not want it to appear as though your focus or primary interest in this position is the money.  Do be prepared to respond to the question of pay should the topic come up.  Keep in mind that free online sources of pay information are often inaccurate.  You can review job postings for similar positions and see if they include salary ranges to help you understand the going rate of pay.

Critique Yourself

Review your performance from your first interview. Note any questions or situations that caused you difficulty.  Look for opportunities to elaborate on your abilities and provide any information you wished you had provided during the first interview. Think about what made you shine in the first interview, and plan to do more of the same.

Multiple Interviews Are Not Uncommon

Don’t be rattled by a second (or third) interview.  Multiple interviews are not uncommon in the selection process.  Expect to meet additional members of the organization in the second interview.  Often times, organizations want candidates to meet others with whom they will regularly work and obtain those constituents’ opinions on candidates.  Use the longer interview process to your advantage.   You have another opportunity to present your knowledge, skills, and abilities in more detail.  Second interviews provide the opportunity for you to learn more detailed information about the position and the company.

Take heart

It’s a good thing to be invited back for another interview; it means you did well in the first interview!