8 ways to ace your second job interview
You nailed your first interview. Now, it's time to step it up for your next interview.
Impress interviewers the second time around.
You’re feeling great after your first interview for a job with a prospective employer and you’re told to expect a call back from human resources about setting up a second interview. When you do get that call, your initial feelings are excitement and triumph! Then, just as quickly, those feelings are replaced by anxiety and fear when you realize that this interview will be a defining moment for you. This will be your opportunity to shine or fizzle—to stand out or fall flat on your face.
Before you panic, relax and relish the moment. Being asked back for a second interview confirms your initial assessment of the situation: The employer is sincerely interested in hiring you.
So once you’ve calmed down, how do you prepare for this significant, sought-after second interview? What can you expect in the way of questions from hiring managers, and how much information should you offer during the interview?
1. Have a plan
“The purpose of the second interview is to show your best, to sell your achievements and knowledge, and to elaborate on projects you worked on in the past,” says Gerard Clement, director of professional services for a Boston-area software firm.
“When you interview, you have to jump in and go for it. You need to give (us) enough confidence in your abilities and skills to move forward with an offer.” Oh, and don’t let the interviewer do all the talking, adds Clement, who sees this as a “red flag.” And be prepared for everything, even the type of chair you might encounter!
2. Sell yourself
While a first interview may involve more generalized questions, the second interview will likely be more intense, especially for technical positions. Oftentimes, a hiring manager may use a consultant or senior staff to assist in the technical part of the interview, someone who is adept at getting to the core of a candidate’s skills. This is when you need to be bold and sell yourself!
Come prepared with lots of stories of your own past job accomplishments. Don’t be shy, and when asked, elaborate on those past projects that relate to the position at hand. “If (a candidate) is not coming out shining,” says Clement, “it’s not giving us a lot of confidence to work together.”
3. Articulate your attributes
Be prepared to clearly communicate all of your pertinent successes during the second interview.
“Basically what I look for from the candidate is to articulate how they will be successful in the job, and what attributes they have, such as excellent organizational skills,” says Diana Marshall, HR generalist at a national law firm based in Detroit. “I’d want them to talk to me about how they acquired those skills and how they demonstrated those skills in their past jobs. If it’s more of an analytical job they’re applying to, I’ll ask what technique they’d used to analyze things in the past and how they made sure that the information was accurate.”
4. Vast array of interviewers
Don’t be surprised if some of the people you meet with during this round aren’t very proficient interviewers. Typically, managers trained in interviewing conduct the first round of interviewers, so the variety of people who might talk with you during the second interview process may include those lacking skills and training in how to conduct an interview. Go with the flow! And, don’t let anyone trip you up with seemingly unrelated questions.
5. Be prepared for tricky questions
While this may never happen to you, be prepared for off-the-wall or tricky questions seemingly coming from left field, which may only be asked to see how well you handle the question. Things like a “think-outside-the-box” type of test may be given beforehand or an interviewer may ask your age (a downright no-no but a simple, “Is it relevant?” answer usually diffuses the situation). Still, trick questions can make or break you, so be prepared for the unexpected and be able to think on your feet!
6. Ask lots of questions
Be prepared with lots of questions to ask, as you will likely have more opportunity during the second interview to ask questions and you will be expected to make more urbane inquiries than you did during the first interview. If you don’t receive an offer on spot, ask about the next step in the process. How soon will a decision be made, and how will they let you know?
7. Cultural fit
The second interview is a key time for the employer to determine if you are a fit for the company culture. Recognize that the interviewers during this round want to learn how well you will get along with other team members with whom you’ll be interacting on a daily basis. Now is the time to use your very best interpersonal communication skills.
If you are a good fit, show it; but if you aren’t, you probably wouldn’t be happy working there, anyway. Always keep in mind that this interview is also your opportunity to determine whether the company is a good fit for you. Think about whether you would accept if the employer extended an offer to you.
8. Say thank you
Make sure you follow up after your second interview with all of the people with whom you interviewed by sending them a quick thank-you email or letter. Express your continued interest in the company in general and the job in particular.
Remember, regardless of whether you’ll be offered a job or not, a second interview means you’re that much closer to an offer and that much closer to securing your dream job!
Are you currently interviewing and want more great career advice like this emailed right to your inbox? Join Monster for free today.
This article is by Rochelle Kaplan for CareerBliss, an online career community dedicated to helping people find happiness in the workplace. Check out CareerBliss for millions of company reviews, salary information and a free career happiness assessment. Rochelle Kaplan is an Executive Recruiter with CyberCoders, Inc.
How to prepare for the second interview for a job
You left them wanting more, now it’s time to deliver.
You’ve gotten called back for a second job interview—Woohoo!
But don’t get too cocky. This doesn’t mean you’re a lock; it simply means they liked what they learned in the first interview and want to learn more.
Keep in mind that your first interview was a step in the door—now you need to walk through it.
Cram for the test
Use the time between your first and second interviews to follow up on any pain points your interviewer mentioned and see what’s new with the company. Look for ways your expertise and achievements can address these issues, says Michele Gorman, managing director of Leveraged Potential, a consulting firm based in Washington, DC.
Know your (new) audience
If your first interview was with a hiring manager, you’ll likely find that the second interview is much more in-depth—you’ll probably meet with potential co-workers and managers, as well as key players in other departments.
If your first interview was a phone or Skype screening and your second interview is in-person, you might meet with the hiring manager or human resources representative as well as people in the department you’d work in.
You'll most likely be meeting with the big decision makers, so leave what you have in your resume and cover letter behind, says Tim Backes, hiring manager at Resume Genius in Wilmington, Delaware. Consider high-level problems that these more senior members may be thinking about and how you can help solve them.
“The big dogs want to see if you are as smart and qualified as those numbers claim,” he says.
Show you’re a cultural fit
You’ll likely also meet with possible co-workers and managers to see if they approve of the hiring manager’s decision.
“Be your best self,” Gorman says—you’re looking at a place where you’ll be spending a lot of your time if you get the job. Look for hints about the company culture, and draw parallels to your working preferences or interests to demonstrate fit during the interview.
“The second interview is the time to sell yourself as a person, and not as a list of accomplishments,” Backes says.
Everyone who gets to the second interview will be at least as qualified as you, so you need to show that you have what it takes to go above and beyond what your competition brings to the table.
Have your “number” ready
In this interview, they may use a question about the salary you’re expecting to help narrow down their decision. It’s fair to answer with a range until they decide that you’re the one they want, Gorman says—hold onto negotiating power as long as you can. Researching benchmarks before the interview can help you name a range that is competitive without pricing yourself out of the market.
Nail these steps and you may be asked back for a third interview, or—better yet—you may even land the job!