How to prepare for a second interview

No comments

So you’ve been called back for a second interview. Congrats!

The second interview will have similarities and differences with the first. You may have to shift your strategy slightly and I will offer some ideas in this article.

Uncover the goal of the second interview

I recommend that you try to uncover the goal of the second interview as it pertains to your situation. Depending on the company and the position, the second interview could be more technical or more high-level than the first interview. Let me explain.

Let’s say you are a software developer. You may have a second interview with another developer. The hiring manager’s expertise may not be as granular as the developer’s, so the developer would be in a better position to ask detailed questions and assess your technical knowledge.

Conversely, a second interview could be more high-level. If we take the same example of the software developer but we have them meet with the head of IT, the interview will be quite different. The head of IT will think about the big picture and may ask questions to gain an understanding of how the developer views the systems and how well they collaborate with other departments.

Hopefully this example gives you an idea of how second interviews can vary widely. If possible, try to find out the following information:

  • Who is the interviewer in relation to the incumbent: is it a colleague? an internal client? a senior leader?
  • The nature of questions that will be asked (as illustrated in this example)
  • The duration of the interview
  • If there will be any subsequent steps such as a third interview or any testing

By having a clear understanding of the goal of the second interview, you can adjust yourself accordingly to position yourself in a favourable light.

Stay on your A-game

A common mistake that I’ve witnessed was when candidates would loosen the formalities after the first interview. Remember that it’s not a done deal unless you receive a verbal or written offer from the company. Until that time arrives, all the basics such as arriving on time, dressing professionally, sending thank you notes etc. still apply.

I will give you an example to illustrate my point. There was a candidate in the Accounting/Finance sector who was meeting a VP for the second interview. Although we had narrowed the field, we had more than one candidate scheduled for a second interview. I sat with the VP following this candidate’s second interview and listened to the feedback. I was disappointed to learn that the candidate spent most of their time asking about vacation time and other similar details. Because there were other candidates in the running who had better second interviews, this candidate was overshadowed and subsequently disqualified.

You can avoid a situation like this by taking the following steps:

  • Research the VP’s background to learn more about their experience and their role in the organization. This type of research helps to develop questions and/or build rapport.
  • Use the research done on the company for the first interview and ask one or two of those questions to get the VP’s point of view.
  • Assume that other, equally matched candidates are also doing a second interview.

When you stay on your A-game and take nothing for granted, you ensure that you are presenting your best self at all times.

Reiterate your interest

During the interview process, you want to ensure that everyone you meet knows that you are interested in the position and the company. Here are some ideas:

  • How does this position fit in with your career goals? By sharing this with the interviewers, you help them to see that you to be there for reasons above and beyond the paycheque.
  • What has impressed you about the company thus far? Those who are involved in the hiring process are committed to the company’s success. By sharing your impressions, you demonstrate that you are paying attention, appreciate their contribution and want to join them in accomplishing their common goal.
  • Do you have any kind of personal story that connects you to the company? If you are a raving fan of the company, if this company has had an impact on your life or the life of someone you love or if this is your dream company, share it. We often underestimate the power of a genuine, human story. Always remember to tell your personal story in a professional way.

I hope this has helped to give you some food for thought in preparation for your second interview. You can also read my last article How to prepare for a job interview if you want to make sure that all your bases are covered.

Good luck!