How to Prepare For a Second Interview

For many jobs, the employer will want to interview you more than once before making the final hiring decision.

The first interview—often conducted by HR—is primarily a screening interview to determine if you meet the minimum requirements of the job. When they have met several candidates, they will narrow that list to the candidates who most closely fit their needs.

If you are invited back for a second interview, expect to be interviewed by the hiring manager, who has more knowledge of the job and who has final decision-making authority.

Other 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.

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.

Get ready for deeper questions about your skills and experience.

The first interview will have covered the basics but be prepared for more rigorous questions in the second round when 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.

Prepare good questions of your own.

The second interview is your chance to stand out by asking smart, insightful questions about the job, the company, and the people. Demonstrate how much you have researched the organization. Remember, many employers say that the quality of questions that candidates ask of them are as important as candidates’ answers to their questions.

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. 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.

Once they know you have the technical skills to do the job, the employer must determine if you are the right fit. Since much of the fit assessment is based on gut feeling of the interviewer, make sure your real personality comes through. Listen well, be personable, and use your best communication skills.

Prepare a 30, 60, 90-day plan.

Very few candidates will go the extra mile to prove they want the job. Preparing a plan of what you will do in the first 30, 60, and 90 days on the job 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.