How to Prepare for Your Second Interview

So, you’ve passed your screening interview with flying colors.

Now you’re dreading what comes next…

A second interview is usually the final step in obtaining a job offer – at this point, you might even have a 50% possibility of getting the position you aim for.

Before you head off to your second interview, there are several things you should know:

Two purposes:

In general, the second interview serves two purposes for the hiring company:

  1. Identifying specific qualities and competences – while the first interview serves as a glimpse into your professional standing, the second one is used to determine whether your specific skills match the requirements of what they’re looking for in new employees.
  2. Seeing whether you’ll fit into the company – employers like to test their prospective employees directly in the context of the company. This way they can observe how you get along with other workers and see whether you’re a good fit with their company culture.

What should you expect?

These are some of the typical things that happen during the second interview:

  • Meeting the HR staff representative – this will be the first person you’ll meet upon arriving at the company.
  • A tour of the company – if a tour is not scheduled in your agenda, show your enthusiasm for the job and ask for one, but only if there’s enough time.
  • Private interviews with company workers – including department heads, managers, executives or trainees.
  • Money and guidelines – Discussion of important issues like salary and benefits, employment rules and guidelines, or reimbursement of expenses.

How should you prepare?

Here are a few important things to remember before you get to your job interview:

  • Research – take your time to research the company for relevant information – this is especially important for your second interview, where the employers expect you to be serious about their offer and know some of the basic information about the company. You can ask your first-round interviewer for more information regarding the company, your specific position or department. Check what the press is writing about the company and get a grasp on the company’s activity in social media. You can prepare yourself further by doing a background check on your interviewer to get an idea about their goals and prepare your answers accordingly.
  • Prepare logistically for the second interview day – it might seem trivial, but getting there on time is something you should be aiming for if you want to give a good first impression.
  • Review your first interview – during your first interview, you probably made some practical notes about the employer’s requirements. Try to summarize what you wrote to answer questions like: What are the most important qualifications the company is interested in? What are the goals set by the employer for you? Think about your conversation with the interviewer – was there a question you had trouble answering? If so, prepare good responses for those questions.
  • Questions – prepare some questions you’d like to ask your interviewers – this is actually more important than you think, since asking questions shows your enthusiasm for working in the company and gives you a chance to get some valuable information on the job. Things to ask about? Specifics of your job, your prospective supervisors, goals set for a six-month period, the performance appraisal system, and the company’s management style. Don’t repeat the questions you asked during the first interview.
  • Answers – think about possible questions the interviewers might ask you – among the most typical ones are: Why are you interested in working for this company? What challenges are you looking for in this position? What can you contribute to this company after we hire you? What are your career goals? What are your salary expectations?
  • After the interview – it’s a good idea to send a follow-up letter to the HR manager, thanking him for the opportunity, reiterating your interest in the job and emphasizing all your skills and qualifications relevant to the success of the company.

The second interview itself – a little guideline:

During the second interview, you’re likely to get asked more detailed questions that will delve further into your skills, competences and experience. The interviewer will be interested in getting to know you and your attitude towards the position – they might ask you questions about your first interview, such as: What have you learned so far about our company? How would you proceed if we hired you?

What often follows is a different kind of question set – a behavioral interview which shows how you handle specific situations, aiming to assess your future performance in the company. You can expect questions that start with ‘Describe a situation in which…’ or ‘Can you tell me about that situation when…’. It’s good to get yourself acquainted with this interviewing style and prepare some model answers beforehand.

You might have been invited to participate in the second interview, but this still doesn’t guarantee you the job. You do, however, stand a chance at getting it if you prepare well for the upcoming question rounds and provide answers that underline your professional approach and excellent preparation for the position in question.

Author: Kelly Smith works at, an Australian online courses resource. She also provides career advice for students and job seekers and works as a freelance writer.

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