How To Prepare For A Second Interview

After having the first interview completed, you’ve made it to the second interview stage. But at this stage you are not sure how this will differ from your first interview, so you keep the same approach of repeating the same things you said before, which doesn’t sound so great. Key differences occur when it comes to the types of questions asked by employers, and the answers expected of you.

Generally, a first interview is generally used to test your personality and basic abilities. Whereas at the second stage, the competition becomes even more intense. What an employer finds in you what distinguishes you from the other candidates and what your technical abilities and logistics are. Second interviews are often an opportunity for other key members of staff at a particular employer to meet and question a shortlist of the best candidates.

Information Regarding Second Interview

Just because you’ve been invited for a second interview, don’t think it’s a done deal and you’re going to get the job. In this competitive job market, most employers conduct second interviews and sometimes even third and fourth interviews. You’re close, so keep your enthusiasm, attentiveness and interest levels high. It’s time to shine.

To make it to the next round, you’ll need to be comfortable with both the standard interview questions and the curve-balls, while paying special attention to topics that are most likely to come up in this phase of the interview process.

In the first interview you probably met with someone from human resources and a hiring manager, each for about 30 minutes. In this second round you’ll likely be interviewed by several senior managers, both inside and outside of the department you’re applying to work in. You’ll likely meet with some of your potential new team members too.

The first interview was a broad screening; this one will be much more in-depth. During a second interview, you will also be asked more specific interview questions about the job, the company, your ability to perform in the job, and how your skills and abilities translate into what the company is seeking in the person they are going to hire.

Questions That Are Asked Frequently During Second Interview

It’s important to have questions ready to ask the interviewer and since you don’t want to repeat what you asked in the first interview, have a different set of interview questions ready to ask during your second interview:

1. What are the main attributes you think are needed for this role?.. 

Whilst this is obviously the case at all interviews you attend, with greater competition and higher expectations, the need to shine more brightly than the other candidates takes on added importance.

What attributes are absolutely necessary to be able to do the job well? We’ll give you a clue: check the job description.

You will usually see at least a few skills highlighted as absolutely essential: indicate why you feel these may be important and think of one or two examples of how you can demonstrate them.

Right answer: ‘I think that X, Y and Z are the most important skills necessary for this role. I think these are all things I can actively bring to the role, which I demonstrated when…’

Wrong answer: ‘Turning up on time mainly’

2. Why don’t you want this job?

This question turns the quintessential interview question on its head, making you work slightly harder at selling yourself (not to mention testing your desire for the position).

By the second interview, it’s perfectly natural to have some reservations about the role. Use this question to ask the interviewer anything you may need clarification on. Whether its salary or asking about opportunities for career progression, try and prepare any questions you have after the first round.

(N.B. compliments always work well here for intros e.g. ‘From what I’ve seen so far, this looks like a really great environment to work in. However…’, or similar)

Right answer: ‘This Company has built a reputation for providing its staff with excellent prospects to progress. However, my only reservation at the moment is that I’ve only seen limited opportunities for training and development. I’ve been thinking of taking X course to improve my skills and would be keen to understand whether this is something you would consider offering as part of the role?’

Wrong answer: ‘Because, if anything, I’ll be too good at it. And that scares me.’

3. What would you change about the company?

A particular favorite for more technical or design-based roles, this question has the potential to come up whatever the position.

It’s time to show your research skills. So whether it’s a part of the website you don’t feel is particularly user-friendly or a window display which you feel brings nothing to the store, have a few things prepared before the interview.

Whatever you suggest, remember to back up why you’ve said it and what value you feel this change could bring to the business.

Right answer: ‘I found the sign-up process on your website to be very long and I imagine a lot of users may be put off by this. If you made the form slightly shorter, I think you could increase registration numbers’

Wrong answer: ‘Where do I start…?’

4. What are your career goals?

Similar to the ever-popular ‘where do you see yourself in five years’ time’, what the interviewer really wants to know in this instance is that you’ve thought about your future. And perhaps, more to the point that you’re in it for the long haul.

Think of it this way: two candidates are neck and neck in an employer’s estimations and one says they’re looking to move through the company and head up a team; the other says they’ve always wanted to travel. Who would you offer the position to?

Be passionate about the industry, demonstrate your ambition and play to your strengths. More importantly, don’t make this position seem like a stop-gap for you. You’ll just be wasting everyone’s time.

Right answer: Something along the lines of ‘I’d like to be heading up my own team within the department, which would make the most of my analytical skills and previous managerial experience’ (only much more specific).

Wrong answer: ‘To have a job’ (see also: ‘to have your job’)

5. What salary are you looking for?

They may not have covered salary in the initial interview, but expectations when it comes to money are often discussed at the second stage.

Be honest. Give an indication of an income that you feel is realistic to the role and its responsibilities. Make sure to factor your previous experience into any answer you give. Once you’ve come up with a figure, be prepared to explain why you’ve reached it.

Remember: be realistic, but don’t undervalue yourself. Otherwise you might just come out with less than what you’re worth. To find out what everyone else is on, take a look at our average salary checker.

Right answer: A realistic, but non-specific salary range, e.g. ‘I‘m looking for a starting salary somewhere between £25,000 and £30,000’.

Wrong answer: ‘Ideally I’d like £1million pounds, so it depends what you’re offering really’/’how much do you think I’m worth?’

6. What’s your notice period?

It’s time to get down to the real business. What an employer wants to know here is the logistics involved should you actually be offered the role. And by logistics, we mean admin.

Make sure you’ve looked up how much notice you need to give to your current employer before your interview. If you have any holiday booked or if you know of any other impediments which may affect you starting the job, now is the time to let them know.

Be careful not to get ahead of yourself, though. They’re not actually offering you a job. Yet. They just want to know what would happen if they did.

Right answer: ‘I need to provide at least four weeks’ notice if I were to find another job’

Wrong answer: ‘I don’t think I need to give them any notice. I just won’t bother going back in’

Dos and Don’ts for a Second Job Interview

Below are mentioned a few dos and don’ts for a second job interview:

  • Dopat yourself on the back for being called for a second interview. Career experts estimate that once you’ve secured a second interview, your chances of getting the job are between 25-50%.
  • Don’t be late.Take a practice run to the location where you are having the interview. If this isn’t possible, at least be sure you know exactly where it is and how long it takes to get there.
  • Dothink about what made you shine in the first interview, and plan to do more of the same in your second interview.
  • Don’tmake the same mistakes twice. Note any questions that you found difficult to answer during your first interview and plan out how you will handle those questions in the second interview. Further, brainstorm new information you can bring into the second interview, such as new accomplishments, new examples, and new evidence of how much you know about the employer.
  • Doprepare more than you did for the first interview. Before your second job interview, take the time to delve even deeper into that research using our Guide to Researching Companies, Industries, and Countries. Before your second interview, check your LinkedIn connections to see if you know someone who works for the company, or seek out your school’s alumni association to see if any alumni work for the organization. Ask them what you should know about the company.
  • Don’t forget about current events.Google the company and read recent news and press releases. Knowing about recent changes in company structure, acquisitions or culture will give you interesting talking points during your interview.
  • Do plan to bring several copies of your resume. Print out at least one for each person you will be meeting with.
  • Don’tbe surprised if you interview with several people. The second interview might be several one-on-one interviews or one interview in a group setting. Ask the hiring manager for a schedule so that you know which scenario you’ll be facing.
  • Do look for common connections.Ask the hiring manager for a list of people you’ll be meeting with. Look them up on LinkedIn so that you are clear what each person’s role is in the company and whether you have connections in common, which could make for interesting conversation during the interview.
  • Don’tbe underdressed. Research the company to know what to wear to the interview. Ask friends in similar jobs what you should wear, or check with company insiders for their opinion whenever possible.
  • Doexpect to be tested. Some companies will ask you to aware that you might be asked to complete skills or personality tests during your interview. Since you can’t prepare for these tests, just concentrate on staying relaxed.
  • Don’t forget your manners.Use your best dining etiquette if you are asked to dine with representatives of the prospective employer.
  • Do be prepared for a long day.Second interviews are typically longer than first interviews because you are often meeting with several people in a single day. Get a good night’s sleep the night before. If you have a break between interviews, take a brisk walk to get rejuvenated. Bring a snack in case there is no lunch break. Be armed with breath spray or mints since lots of talking can cause dry mouth.
  • Don’t forget – the second interview is about fit.The first interview confirmed that you have the requisite skills to do the job. The second is about whether you’re a fit for the organization and its culture so deploy your very best interpersonal-communication skills.
  • Do keep in mind that it’s ok not to fit.Remember, that this interview is also your opportunity to determine whether the company is a good fit for you. Think about whether you would accept if the employer extended an offer.
  • Don’t be surprised byin-depth questions. While you’ll likely be asked some of the same questions you were asked in the first interview, second interview questions may delve more into your personality and your specific technical skills. Keep your responses fresh yet consistent for each person you meet with during the second interview, and don’t worry about repeating yourself since you will likely have a different audience every time you respond.
  • Doexpect behavioral questions, even if they haven’t been in asked in the first interview.
  • Don’t be thrown by case questions.The second interview is often a time case questions are put into play, especially in consulting firms.
  • Dobe prepared with lots of questions to ask. You should have more opportunity to ask questions in the second interview and will be expected to make more sophisticated inquiries than you did in the first interview. Although these questions are designed for informational interviews, many of them also work in a second interview situation in which you are attempting to make a personal connection.
  • Don’tbe caught off guard if an interviewer raises the subject of salary and benefits. This is the point at which the topic of salary will come up. Know your worth. Arm yourself by visiting our Salary Negotiation and Job Offer Tools and Resources, especially our Salary Negotiation and Job Offer Tutorial. You may also be asked about your willingness to travel and relocate, so be ready with your responses.
  • Doask about the next step in the process at the end of the interview. Ask how soon will a decision be made, and how will they let you know?
  • Don’trespond immediately if the employer does make an offer. Ask for a few days to think about it.
  • Doask for the business card of everyone interviewing you. Keep a small notepad handy to write down names in case you meet someone from whom you can’t get a card.
  • Don’tforget to send a thank-you note or e-mail to everyone you meet with. That’s right — all of them. You can write the same basic message to all, but vary it a bit in case they compare notes.

What to Wear to a Second Interview

If you can’t afford another suit, try a different shirt or tie with the same suit. Continue to dress to impress. After all, you are not one of them yet. Even if it means wearing the same outfit, look sharp. It’s important to feel good about yourself. Take note of this job interview advice. Since fit is an important factor, you should compare your qualifications with the job description—from the company’s standpoint as well as your own. And don’t forget to research salaries and think about your benefits requirements as well.

Sure, this is a competitive job market, and you will have to sell yourself aggressively. But all this preparation will make you more confident and help you present yourself.

Before you panic, relax and relish the moment. Being asked back for a second interview confirms your initial assessment of the situation: The employer is sincerely interested in hiring you.

You got called for a job interview and got through it unscathed. Now you’re being called back for a second interview. It’s a promising next step, but you’re not hired yet. You’ll have to perform well in this second round–and it all depends on how you prepare.

Common Questions:

  • What challenges are you looking for in a position?
  • Why do you want this job?
  • Why are you the best person for the job?
  • What applicable experience do you have?
  • Why are you interested in working for this company?
  • What can you do for this company if we hire you?
  • What can you contribute to this company?
  • What do you know about this company?
  • Why do you want to work for this company?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What are your salary requirements?

Useful Tips for Nailing Your Second Interview

Prepare carefully for each and every interview to enhance your prospects of turning your interview into job offer. Be prepared either for your interviewer to remember everything you said in the first interview. Don’t take it personally if he or she seems to draw a blank momentarily; the interview process is long and involved for hiring managers as well as applicants.

Below are mentioned some useful tips for preparation of second interview:

1. Have a Plan and know your interviewers

Go into the interview room knowing exactly who’s on the panel and what is expected of you. Research the individuals and continue to sell your achievements and experience in more detail than you did at the first stage.

2. Prepare to articulate your attributes

Be prepared to clearly communicate all of your pertinent successes during the second interview. “Basically what I look for from the candidate is to articulate how they will be successful in the job, and what attributes they have, such as excellent organizational skills,” says Diana Marshall, HR generalist at a national law firm based in Detroit. “I’d want them to talk to me about how they acquired those skills and how they demonstrated those skills in their past jobs. If it’s more of an analytical job they’re applying to, I’ll ask what technique they’d used to analyze things in the past and how they made sure that the information was accurate.”

3. Vast array of interviewers

Don’t be surprised if some of the people you meet with during this round aren’t very proficient interviewers. Typically, managers trained in interviewing conduct the first round of interviewers, so the variety of people who might talk with you during the second interview process may include those lacking skills and training in how to conduct an interview. Go with the flow! And, don’t let anyone trip you up with seemingly unrelated questions.

4. Ask lots of questions

Be prepared with lots of questions to ask as you will likely have more opportunity during the second interview to ask questions and you will be expected to make more urbane inquiries than you did during the first interview. If you don’t receive an offer on spot, ask about the next step in the process. How soon will a decision be made, and how will they let you know?

5. Do the same sort of practice and preparation you did last time

Hopefully, that means making sure you’re very familiar with the company and the job posting, reflecting on common interview questions and how you’ll answer them and practicing your answers to particularly tricky questions, such as those about salary or why you left your last job. This might feel unnecessary. After all, you already did all this for the first round. But you want to be just as prepared and have your answers just as fresh in your head as they were last time. You don’t want to perform worse the second time around.

6. Come up with new questions of your own

You probably asked some of your most basic questions in the first interview. But now you know the job and the company a bit better, and you probably have questions based on that greater knowledge. This is the time for more nuanced questions about the work, the culture and the team.

7. Dress as well as you did for the first interview

Sometimes people show up at an interview in a suit, see everyone else in jeans and figure they can dress down for the second interview. But in most fields, interview dress is different than what you might wear day-to-day on the job. Most fields continue to expect job candidates to show up in suits. Don’t blow the second interview by showing up looking like you didn’t take it seriously.

8. Don’t be thrown off if you’re asked the same questions that you were asked last time

This might happen if you’re talking to new people, and it even might happen if you’re talking to the same person as earlier because people may have go-to questions and forget that they’ve already asked you them. Don’t sound annoyed or give an abbreviated answer on the assumption that they can get the details from someone else. And definitely don’t say, “Well, I explained that to Larry.” Answer pleasantly and thoroughly, the way you would the first time the question was asked.

9. Go with the flow

This is always a helpful attitude to take with interviews, but it’s especially true with second interviews, where there are a number of directions the employer could take the conversation and no way to know in advance how it will play out.

10. Don’t forget to say thank you!

Make sure you follow up after your second interview with all of the people with whom you interviewed by sending them a quick thank-you email or letter. Express your continued interest in the company in general and the job in particular.

Remember, regardless of whether you’ll be offered a job or not, a second interview means you’re that much closer to an offer and that much closer to securing your dream job!

11. Keep your answers fresh and think of new examples based on your first interview

It’s ok to go over old ground. But at the second interview, your manager will be on the panel so offer a mix of old and new answers and examples to show your breadth of experience and expertise.

12. Keep rehearsing your answers

Taking time out to run through your responses could be the deal clincher. Being clear, articulate and to-the-point in your responses shows you can think on your feet while communicating effectively under pressure.

13. Review and reflect on your performance from your first interview

You’ve obviously hit the mark if they’ve called you back in. But think back to any questions where you could improve or give a more relevant and detailed response. Was there any major achievement or milestone which showcases your particular expertise that you could now include in your responses?

14. Be prepared for some tricky questions

This is essentially the last stop before being offered the job, so don’t expect an easy ride. New people may be on the interview panel and they will want to see how you respond to pressure. Keep your answers clear, concise and relevant. If you have a portfolio or other work samples, it’s important to bring them with you to this round of interviews, even if you showed them in your first meeting. During the second interview, it’s not uncommon for companies to bring in other people, such as prospective team members or other employees who might work with you on a day-to-day basis.

Some of these people might be fairly spontaneous additions to the interview process, so you’ll want to be prepared to give your elevator speech and demonstrate your skills and abilities effectively and efficiently, to catch them up on who you are.

15. Make a Match

Review the job posting you applied for and other company job listings. You will get a good idea of what the company wants from the people they hire from reviewing the job descriptions. Make a list of how you match what the company is looking for and use that information when you respond to interview questions.

You goal is to convince the company that you are the candidate who can help them reach their goals and if you provide actionable information in your responses, you’ll be well-positioned. In addition, review behavioral interview questions and answers because they are designed to elicit responses that include specific examples of how you achieved results.

16. Give Consistent Responses

Remember to be consistent. Your interviewers are going to compare notes, so it is important that what you tell one interviewer matches what you tell you the others. Take the time to review your resume ahead of time and take notes after your first interview so you remember what you said the first time around.

17. Check the company’s social media channels for fresh insights and news updates

A good way of showing you’re keen and up to date is to discuss the news the company releases via their social media channels. Check their website, LinkedIn and Twitter feeds to get in the loop and start speaking their language.

18. Are you the right cultural fit?

This is when the employer will make a final assessment about whether you’re the right cultural fit for them and how you’ll interact with the existing team members. It’s also your time to make the same judgment about the company – so take in the office surroundings and observe the interactions and language they use. Is it really right for you?

19. Ask the right questions and lots of them

It’s likely you’ll have more opportunity during the second interview to ask questions. Ask about the team, company strategy and the expectations around your role. Before you leave, ask about when decisions will be made and how they will let you know.

20. Stay in selling mode

You’re not ‘in’ yet so make sure you showcase your strengths and back up everything you say with an example. Hitting or overachieving targets, and any statistical examples of how you’ve contributed individually or as part of a team, are a great way of showing you can make a real difference to a company.

21. Leave the interview on a positive note

At the end of the interview show you’re keen and express your continued interest in the company. Stay positive and good luck!


Remember, these are just a few examples of the types of questions which may come up. Many of the questions you encounter may be industry specific and some companies have their own methods of finding the right candidates.

Be prepared for every eventuality and for as many questions as you can. That way, you’re unlikely to feel as if you’ve been put on the spot. If you really want the role, the extra effort will be well worth it.

Also, consider that your interviewer may change from the first time you were questioned. For more technical roles, you may have someone less accustomed to interview situations brought in specifically to ask you more detailed questions. For sales roles, you may need to be prepared for the possibility of a good cop/bad cop set-up, with one particularly difficult interviewer trying to test your knowledge of your answers throughout proceedings.

Whoever your interviewer, don’t take it personally – even if you don’t feel the same connection as you did first time around. Keep calm and maintain your confidence and conviction. Remember: no matter how harshly they critique your answers, this is usually no reflection on you. They simply want to see if you really believe what you say.

Finally, don’t forget to think of your own questions you can ask at the end of the interview. What you ask can be just as telling as what you answer. Because ending the second interview with an awkward silence is definitely not the last impression you want. So you should end the interview well, at a good note.

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