One job interview is nerve-racking enough. Even though it’s great news to be called for a second one, the nerves can kick back in. Don’t worry, Hays’ Robby Vanuxem is here to help.
Congratulations! You’ve been asked back for a second interview. Your first interview obviously went well and, as a result, the company is seriously considering you for the job and you are one step closer to securing it. However, you may feel unsure as to how this interview will differ from the first one, and how best to prepare.
I’d like to provide some clarity on this by outlining the differences between the first and second interview, the purpose of the second interview, and what you can do to seal the deal.
Who will you meet in your second interview?
During your first interview, you will probably have met with someone from HR as well as your would-be boss. At the second interview stage, you will most likely be meeting someone more senior within the business, the person who will ultimately have the final say on the hiring decision.
Prior to your interview, confirm with your recruiter who will be conducting the second interview. This will allow you to research this person beforehand online, be it on LinkedIn or via the company website. In doing this, you may discover that you have shared interests or backgrounds. You will feel more at ease in the interview room and overall increase the likelihood of building up a rapport with your interviewer.
What will the format of the interview be?
Don’t assume the format of your second interview will be the same as the first. You may be prepared for a one-on-one interview, only to be faced with a panel of stakeholders on the day. Check with your recruiter how many people are interviewing you and how the interview will be formatted.
If you find out that you will be interviewed by a panel, then prepare accordingly. If the prospect of selling yourself to a group of stakeholders fills you with dread, then brush up on some tips for communicating confidence and presenting to a number of people. Practise in front of a group of friends or family beforehand so the real thing doesn’t feel as daunting.
On the day of the interview, remember to interact with everyone in the room and not just those who are asking you the most questions. When answering these questions, make eye contact with everyone in the room.
Remember everyone’s name and address them as such. I know impressing a panel of interviewers can seem daunting but if you can tackle this skill now, it will serve you well as you progress further in your career, not to mention heighten your chances of securing the opportunity in front of you.
What is the interviewer trying to assess?
The main differences between your first and second interviews lie in the objectives of the interviewer. Think objectively about what the interviewer is trying to find out here, and how you can provide them with what they are looking for. I’ve detailed below the key information the interviewer is most likely looking to attain during the second interview.
Your level of interest in the role and organisation
One thing the interviewer is looking to determine from your second interview is whether you are still as interested in this opportunity having met with the company and learned a bit more about the role. Your level of enthusiasm is directly correlated with how well you would perform if offered the role and how long you stay with the business so if you are still keen, make sure this comes across.
Be ready to say what you enjoyed learning about the organisation upon meeting with them in your first interview. Also, use this opportunity to voice any questions that have cropped up in your mind since you last met with the company.
Do you have the skills required?
During your first interview, the interviewer will ask questions about your career highlights, key skills and attributes in order to check that they align with the key requirements for this vacancy. During this second interview, the hiring manager will be looking for more detailed evidence of these competencies, whether it’s through assessments or competency-based questions such as, ‘Describe a time when you showcased your x skills’ or, ‘How would you approach x situation?’
Prepare for competency-based interview questions by revisiting the core requirements of the role, plus some examples of times you have showcased these skills. Now think about how you plan to implement these skills if successful in this role. You should also double-check with your recruiter to see if you are required to bring physical examples of your work or prepare any presentations.
Are you the right fit?
A large part of the second interview is to establish whether you’re a good fit for the company in terms of culture and personality. Therefore, you may be given a tour of the office at this stage to be introduced to potential colleagues. You could also be asked questions surrounding your hobbies and interests, how your friends would describe you, and what type of culture you prefer to work in.
As you answer these questions, it is important that you remain authentic and honest. After all, the second interview is your chance to critically assess how good a fit this organisation is for you, too.
With this in mind, perhaps prepare some of your own questions for the end of the interview, which could help provide insight into what life at this organisation is like and how much you would enjoy working there. These questions may include, ‘How would you describe the team?’ or, ‘What’s your favourite aspect of working at this organisation?’
Addressing and resolving any reservations or doubts
The interviewer may be looking to use the second interview to overcome some of their reservations from the first interview. So, how can you determine what these reservations may be?
Try and recall any recurring questions that they asked multiple times but phrased in different ways. This may be reflective of a concern that they were trying to clear up. Was there anything that you struggled to answer? You can also ask the recruiter for feedback surrounding this.
What about any skills gaps or areas of the job that you aren’t fully equipped to do? Consider whether you could teach yourself this skill in advance, or commit to learning it in the near future, even if it’s in your own time. You should also outline that you are a fast learner and keen to develop yourself, and give examples of times when you have quickly upskilled yourself in the past.
Once you have an inkling of what the interviewer’s doubts may be, you can prepare to counter them in the second interview.
Your availability and salary
Lastly, the second interview can often be the stage during which the interviewer is looking to know your notice period and salary expectations. Have this information ready. If you are unsure of how to negotiate your salary, check out our advice surrounding this topic.
What are the next steps?
At the end of your second interview the interviewer should confirm the next steps but if not, you can politely ask. Remember to thank them for their time and send a follow-up email to either the interviewer or the recruiter to pass on (depending on who you have been in direct contact with during this process) to reiterate that you enjoyed meeting with them and are still interested in the position.
In understanding the purpose of the second interview, you can improve your preparation strategy, provide the hiring manager with the information they need to know about you and, ultimately, tell them exactly why they should hire you above everyone else.
Robby Vanuxem is the managing director of Hays Belgium.
A version of this article originally appeared on Hays’ Viewpoint blog.