Job Interview Tips

Your Guide to a Successful Second Interview

Written by Peter Jones

You’ve survived your first interview. Congratulations! And the hiring manager has called you back in for a second round. Congrats again! You must have done something right, right? But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to prepare as arduously for your second interview as you did for your first.

First, understand this is not a guarantee you’ll get the job. If anything, the competition has narrowed and become more fierce. You can’t rest on your laurels yet. You have to fight! You’ll probably be sitting down with someone higher up on the food chain—sometimes a lot higher up—as well, so your preparation and your game have to be top notch. There’s a lot more pressure. The stakes are higher. But you have another, more targeted chance to prove you are the right candidate for the job.

Step 1: Strategize

Make sure you know exactly what the job is—what it entails, who you’d be reporting to, etc. Then make sure you know who exactly will be interviewing you—and read up as much as you can on who they are. You’ll want to impress your interviewer(s) with your expansive knowledge of the industry/company/role, but not scare them away. Strike a good balance.

Be sure to prepare a brand new list of questions you should be prepared to ask when that section of the interview comes up. Tailor your research to this job in particular, and reach out to your contacts to see if you can chat with anyone who works or has worked in that office. It’s not a bad time to figure out what really matters to you in a job—and make doubly sure you want this one, as you move closer to potentially getting it.

Step 2: Plan

There are three types of interviews: one-on-one interviews with a department head, director, or even owner; panel interviews with a group of higher-ups (think firing squad); and group interviews where you’re being interviewed alongside your competition. Each requires a slightly different strategy, so be sure to know going in which scenario to prepare for. Mock interviewing with friends or current contacts is always a good idea to make sure you’re on your game.

Step 3: Ask Questions

Whether you’re talking to a supervisor, an HR manager, or a potential future coworker, you’ll absolutely need some questions to ask. Prepare a ton and then choose the one that makes the most sense when you’re on the ground. Make a list of questions for each type of person—that way you won’t run into an HR rep and only have questions prepared for your would-be immediate supervisor. When in doubt, ask about a typical day in the office, the work culture, or whether there is potential for professional growth.

Your Top 5 Tips for a Second Interview

No matter which sort of interview you’re facing, or with whom, here are five great ideas to keep you at the top of the heap.

1. Be respectful

Even if you think you should be speaking with someone higher up on the food chain, treat whomever interviews you with utmost respect. Make eye contact, be pleasant, shake hands firmly and warmly. And get a business card. You’ll thank yourself come thank you note time!

2. Assess and analyze

Remember, a second interview is also a chance for them to start selling you on the job. Keep an eye out for red flags. Try to get a sense of your potential future coworkers. Ask yourself how you would feel in this environment, with this team. Do you respect the people who would be your supervisors?

3. Prepare

As we said before, you have to prepare even more for a second interview than a first. You’ll need more information about the nitty-gritty details of the job, as specifics are much more likely to come up. Do your homework. Show how much you know about the job and about the company and industry.

4. Breathe

It’s easy to get so stressed that you hold your breath. Don’t! Figure out what you’re going to say going in, and try to get through it. Take a moment to internalize questions before answering so you really make use of your preparation.

5. Be honest

This should go without saying, but it bears repeating: no long-term good will come of you telling your interviewer what they want to hear. Be honest about your skills and your needs and you won’t end up in a job you don’t want or can’t handle.

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About the author

Peter Jones

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