This is your second time in with the same company and an interview is an interview, isn’t it? You did well last time so how hard can it be? Well, it depends.
Historically, you’d have had an interview and then fairly promptly afterwards either received an offer or a “You were great, but …” note. Today, more employers are taking longer to consider individual applicants and they’re doing so to an ever-increasing level of detail. More candidates are being invited back, time and time again before a decision is made.
Because there is huge variation in how different companies define and manage their selection processes, it’s hard to know what you’ll be facing. A second interview could be a formality, or a courtesy to your manager’s manager even, in which case the job is yours to lose. Alternatively, you could be facing a bear pit where several applicants are still in the frame and it will be the last person standing who wins through.
If you don’t know what the situation is – find out, fast. Either way, prepare fully. Forget riding high following the success of your first interview, this is no time for complacency; you’ve got a campaign to plan.
Prepare your ground
It’s perfectly acceptable to contact whoever is organising the interview to ask them for some details. There are several advantages you can gain by doing so. More contact means more familiarity and that will only ever work in your favour, both ways. At the very least, try to find out who you’ll be meeting, how many other candidates there are, where you are in the running order and what the format is.
If you can create the opportunity, ask if there is anything from last time that counted against you or didn’t come across well. This is pure gold, if you can get it. Clearly, don’t harass the company to the point where you’re perceived as insecure, overly pushy or a stalker. They last thing anyone wants to risk is ending up with a weirdo lodged in the team. If you have a recruiter representing you, it’s likely they’ll cover this step for you and manage this risk for you.
Now it’s time to set about re-doing your previous research, by taking it to a whole new level. Research the company, the people, the role, the industry, the economic climate, their markets, their competitors and so on. You don’t need to become an expert, but aim for a conversational level on any of those subjects.
At the interview, aim to show that you’ve stepped up your game since last time you met. The company will be hoping you can show more insight into the challenges and a real enthusiasm for attacking the role, should you get it. Five positive steps to winning through:
1. Get your head straight
Dial back on the adrenalin and nerves. The upside for your psyche is that these people are busy, they’re not just getting you in for a cup of tea and a catch-up. They obviously already think you’re capable and a good fit, or you wouldn’t be invited back. If every other candidate screws up or dies on the way home, the job is theoretically yours. Now that’s not a bad starting point, is it? Someone has to win this, let’s make it you.
2. Work on your ‘fit’
Get the chemistry right and it can be a deal-swinger for you. If you, and every other candidate, tick all of the boxes in spades, your perceived interpersonal skills and how well you gel with them on the day can make a difference. Plan and rehearse your dress, your journey, your arrival in reception, your entry into the room, some conversational interplay, your behavior during interview and your exit. Aim to connect with the interviewers on a human level and be ‘The One’ theyare looking for.
3. Anticipate their concerns
Prepare to be probed more deeply, based on your last interview. When you left last time, what concerned you? Where did you feel weak or had perhaps failed to show the best of yourself? Assume those issues will come up again, and prepare thoroughly to avoid a repeat. Knowing you can cover them this time will power up your confidence.
4. What can you do for them?
Show you understand the real challenges they face as a business. You don’t have to explicitly state their issues and problems, for fear of appearing arrogant, prescriptive or just plain wrong. Simply, if you can guess what keeps your prospective boss awake at night and can show you are part of the solution, the job is yours.
5. Show your added value
What else could you bring to the party that others couldn’t? You’re going off-piste here. Think beyond the job description and look at the role in a wider context. What extra skill or experience can you present that would make hiring you come with a socking great bonus? If that’s not immediately obvious to you, then you’ll need to dig deep, but it will be worth every ounce of pain doing so.
Remember, all candidates will have different strengths and weaknesses, so don’t worry too much about the competition and comparing yourself to others. Instead, concentrate on showing the very best of yourself and how you’re the stand-out choice. Good luck.
About the author: Jon Gregory is an author, editor, blogger & trainer on all things job hunting, interview prep & career development.
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