Interviews are difficult for anyone – you enter a room with one or more people you don’t know, and have to try and convince them that you are perfect for their vacancy. The setting is unfamiliar, which doesn’t help you get a handle on the situation.
Some interview processes are longer than others: while it is possible to be successful after just one interview, many will require you to go through several rounds, each one more specific than the last.
There are so many things that could catch you out, and it’s hard to know exactly what they want from you. At least there are certain ways in which you can prepare, so that you’re not going in completely blind.
Here, we will give you a few things to consider when you’re planning your interview tactics, so you can have some idea of what you can expect, and what they might expect from you in return.
Table of Contents
- What Is The Purpose Of A Second Interview?
- What Jobs Require Second Interviews?
- What Questions Are Asked In A Second Interview?
- How Should I Prepare For A Second Interview?
- What Questions Should I Ask?
What Is The Purpose Of A Second Interview?
While the first interview is mostly there as a way for the interviewers to find out about you as a person.
They already know that you have the requisite skill set and experience to be able to do the job, so now they want to see how you would fit into that particular workplace.
This could involve anything from your general people skills, to what additional tasks you might be able to perform if needed.
A second interview is also a chance for you to set yourself apart from the other candidates.
The initial application form and interview helped the employer to sift through the pool of applicants and make sure the information given on the CV was accurate, so now they are left with a shortlist of candidates who are probably equally qualified.
This means that you will need to come up with reasons why you would be a particular asset to the company.
What Jobs Require Second Interviews?
Not all companies have more than one round of interviews, and this is especially the case with small companies and entry-level positions. However, for more competitive jobs, it is commonplace to have two or even three interview stages.
These roles will usually receive a high number of applicants, so it is harder to narrow down the list after just one interview.
A second one will make it easier to compare candidates against each other and decide who is most suitable overall.
The application process for graduate jobs usually requires several interview rounds, as well as written or practical assessments.
While the potential pool of candidates is reduced for such positions, given that holding a university degree is a prerequisite, they are often incredibly sought-after.
Graduate positions offer excellent training and progression opportunities, as well as a higher than average salary. These companies need to be sure that you’re worth investing in, so a rigorous interview process is the standard.
What Questions Are Asked In A Second Interview?
As you can see, there is a broad scope for the types of questions that you might get asked at this stage. They come under various categories, but here are some individual examples of common questions you could face:
What Are Your Career Goals?
The employer is looking for someone with ambition, who knows where they want to be in the long-term.
Whatever this means for you, make sure to relate your answer to the job you’re applying for and how it can help you achieve your goals.
What Changes Would You Make To The Company?
This isn’t intended to catch you out so that you end up criticising everything they’re doing, they just want to see what perspective you could bring to their current approach.
Maybe you have noticed some confusing information on the website or an inefficient transaction process – however big or small, be ready to justify your answer and explain how it would benefit the company.
What Specific Skills Do You Think This Role Requires?
Here, they are checking to see if you really understand the job description. While that is certainly a good place to start, don’t just memorize it and regurgitate it to their face; instead, talk about why each characteristic is important for success in the role, and how your own skills match up.
In addition, you are likely to be asked about logistical details such as your expected salary and notice period – these will probably be towards the end of the interview. Make sure you have something to say in response, so you’re not left floundering once the difficult part is over.
Regarding salary, it is important not to go too high or too low: most people offer an inspirational figure that is a couple grand more than their current salary.
How Should I Prepare For A Second Interview?
First of all: if you’ve landed a second interview – congratulations! Not many people get an interview at all, let alone a second one, so you must have done something right to come this far.
However, that doesn’t mean that you can take your eyes off the ball and be complacent, as you need to make sure you’re prepared as possible.
They will be able to tell if you’re just trying to wing it, which can hurt your chances of being hired.
Firstly, read through some of the sample questions we have provided, and work out how you could answer them. It seems obvious, but it’s a really important way to get you into the mindset of the interviewer and predict what they will say next.
At the very least, write down a list of bullet points relating to each area they might touch on, so you’ll have something to say whatever comes up.
You don’t want to sound too rehearsed, so don’t memorize entire answers – since this is a more personal interview, they will be expecting you to tailor your responses to the company and what they have specifically asked.
Definitely do your research about the company, the vacancy, and what it involves. While you will have hopefully done this the first time round, it will be good to refresh your memory and demonstrate that you are serious about the role.
Open the email you received inviting you to the interview, and make sure you’ve read it thoroughly.
It should have all the information you need to prepare fully, including time and date, location, and how the interview will be conducted (i.e. whether it is competency-based or strength-based).
It will also tell you who will be interviewing you, so it is vital that you remember this name and address them when you meet.
What Questions Should I Ask?
As well as the hiring manager asking you questions, the second allocates more time for you to ask your own questions.
These could be ones that you have thought about between the first interview and the second, but you also have a perfect opportunity to get some first-hand feedback on the company.
Here are some recommendations:
- What is the staff turnover like in this company?
- Why do you like working here?
- Can you describe a typical working day?
- What have you found challenging while working here?
- Are there opportunities for flexible working?
- How long will it take me to get to grips with the role?
As daunting as second interviews are, proper preparation can really help you feel more comfortable and gain an advantage over other candidates. You should take time to consider what they might ask you, and also what you would like to ask them.
In the second interview, employers will be trying to picture you as part of the team – give them reasons to pick you personally, rather than just ruling others out.
As always, impeccable manners and a warm smile won’t hurt, but it’s the concise and informative answers you give that will really help you seal the deal.