How To Get Ready For The Second Interview

By Gerald Walsh ©

I received a question from a candidate about second interviews. It seems she hadn’t been having much luck getting beyond first interviews and this was the first time in a long time she had been invited back for a second round. Naturally, she was a bit nervous and wondered how she should best prepare for this next interview.

In many ways, the second interview is more important than the first interview – which is primarily a screening interview often conducted by someone from human resources to determine if you meet the broad requirements of the job.

In the second interview, you should expect to be interviewed by the hiring manager, who has more knowledge of the job and who has final decision-making authority.

Other senior managers may be invited to join in and you might be asked meet with some of your potential co-workers. These individuals are usually not directly involved in the final hiring decision but their opinions and impressions will be sought.

Many of the things you will do to prepare for the second interview are the same as you did for the first interview. But there are some differences.

Get ready for deeper questions about your skills and experience.

The first interview – especially if done by human resources – will have covered the basics but the HR staff may not have been knowledgeable enough to probe in great detail about your background.

Be prepared for more rigorous questions in the second round where the hiring manager will want to get at the core of your skills and experience. They may also want to talk in depth about the job and how you match their requirements, so be prepared to give plenty of examples of past accomplishments.

Come armed with really good questions of your own.

In the first interview, the interviewer probably asked most of the questions. The second interview is your chance to stand out by asking smart, insightful questions about the job, the company, and the people. Inquire about their growth plans and long-term strategy. Show how much you have researched the organization and have projected yourself into the job.

Remember, many employers say that the quality of questions that candidates ask of them are as important in the selection process as candidates’ answers to their questions.

Be prepared to answer the same questions as in the first interview.

It’s inevitable that you will cover at least some of the same ground as you did in the first round, as there may be new people in the room. Even if you are asked the same questions, answer them in as much detail as you did the first time. Don’t worry about boring people you might have already met.

Act as if you are in the job already.

Put yourself on their side. Answer questions with ‘we’ not ‘you.’ Talk about the business’ pain points and what you will do to solve them, if given the job. By acting as if you are in the job, you will gain confidence and present yourself much better.  

Remember, they are assessing you for fit also.

If you’ve made it to the second round, you have the basic, foundational skills needed to do the job. The second interview is where the employer is trying to determine if you are the right fit for the company and the team.

Since much of the ‘fit’ assessment is based on gut feeling of the interviewer, you have to make sure your real personality comes through. Listen well, be personable, and use your best communication skills. And make sure that you watch them too. This is your opportunity to determine whether the company is the right fit for you. 

Refer back to the first interview a lot.

Make a list of the key talking points from your first interview (from both you and the interviewer) and mention them frequently. It will demonstrate that you’ve thought deeply about the prior conversation and allow you to engage in deeper, more meaningful discussion about how you can add value. 

Prepare a 30/60/90 day plan.

Very few candidates will go the extra mile to prove they want the job. Preparing a 30/60/90 day plan – outlining what you will do in the first 90 days – is one way to convince the employer that you are the ideal candidate for the job and it will clearly separate you from your competition.


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Gerald Walsh is an executive recruiter, career coach, public speaker and author. He is the author of “PINNACLE: How to Land the Right Job and Find Fulfillment in Your Career.You can follow Gerry on Twitter @Gerald_Walsh