Congratulations! You passed the initial interview and have been called back for a second interview. The candidate pool is shrinking but you are still in the game. What does this mean? It means that the employer feels confident you have the minimum requirements to do the job, but now needs to see if you are the top candidate.
At this point, it is not all about what the company wants to find out about you. In fact, you should have two goals in mind:
- Become the top candidate.
- Determine whether the company meets your expectations.
What to Do?
When HR calls to ask you back for a second interview, one of the items you want to find out is who you will be interviewing with. Perhaps you will meet some potential co-workers or your boss’s boss or even an executive of the company. Knowing whether you are meeting with peers or with the upper echelon will let you know how formal this second interview is going to be.
You should also make sure you find out as much as you can about the company. Do some digging if you need to. Find out all you can about the company’s culture and the work environment. Learn about the company’s values and strategies. If you can, find some employees or ex-employees to determine what the typical work environment is going to be like.
Review your first interview (hopefully, you took notes). Job descriptions often have multiple responsibilities listed, but after having already discussed the job in the first interview, you should have a much better understanding of the primary responsibilities and the important aspects of the job.
For example, a job description for receptionist may include such duties as taking phone calls, making appointments with customers and coordinating vendor updates. But in the first interview, what you’ve realized is that making appointments with customers was the focus of most of the questions. This would indicate that appointment setting and talking with customers is a higher priority and it’s also a topic where you should be prepared to show what you, personally, can bring to the job that someone else can’t.
What to Expect
You will probably get more questions requiring open-ended answers as the second interview is usually more in-depth. Questions may relate more to your personality type and how you would react to certain situations. Basically, the interviewer is trying to get a feel for how well you will fit into the company as well as determining how you compare to other candidates.
This also may be a longer interview or even a series of interviews with multiple people. It’s best to expect more than one interviewer. Sometimes the second interview is the final interview before a job is offered and sometimes it is just the second of three or more rounds of interviews. What this means is that you should be prepared to discuss salary or benefits if these topics are raised. However, do not bring up salary or benefits on your own.
It’s always best to arrive just a little early. You will want to get as good a feel for how employees are treated and how they work together. Picture yourself in the middle and working with these people. Would you feel comfortable? Would you fit in?
Remember that you are interviewing right back at the company. You also want this to be a good fit for you as well. Try to determine how well you will get along with management and how well you will fit in with your coworkers.
Following are additional tips to keep in mind if you are attending a second interview:
- During the interview, be calm and relaxed, but also show that you’re confident in your abilities and skills. Make good eye contact with the interviewer.
- It’s more than acceptable to ask for clarification of a question or to ask the interviewer, “Did I answer your question or would you like more information?” You never want to walk out wondering if he understood what you were trying to say.
- Engage back with the interviewer. You don’t want to sit there and let the interviewer dominate the conversation. You need to show that you can be a great teammate or co-worker and can contribute as a team member. This is especially important as some of your interviewers may be co-workers and not managers. Non-managers may not be proficient at interviewing and will need to see that you can engage without them having to draw you out.
- Being interviewed by non-managers also means that you may get awkward questions or ones that should not be asked. If this is the case, very professionally say, “I’m sorry, but I don’t feel comfortable discussing my age.” Then ask a different question to move the conversation along.
- There are some companies that use the second interview to ask the dreaded trick question. These may include questions like “describe your ideal job” (meaning they would compare your answer to the job description) or personality-type questions such as “If you could be any super-hero, who would you be?” The trick questions can also be a good indicator of the company’s culture. Super-hero questions are usually indicative of less formal, more creative environments.
- Ask for the interviewer’s business card. You will want to follow-up with a short email or note.
- Ask some good questions, such as: Why is the position open? What normally happens if the project is behind schedule? Is overtime required?
- LISTEN actively. The clues to what they are looking for in the top candidate lie in the questions they ask. If they continually ask questions about working on difficult projects, you can probably guess that this is going to be a large part of the job. Also, listen to what they say about what qualities their ideal candidate should possess.
The second interview, being more in-depth, not only will give the interviewer a more thorough picture of you, it will also allow you to understand more about the position, the company and the work environment. You may end up being the top candidate, but may also walk out of the second interview realizing that this is not a place where you want to be.
~ ~ ~
List of the different interview types:
- The Video Interview
- The Informal Interview
- The Technical Interview
- The Phone Interview
- The Structured Interview
- The Scenario Interview
- The Assessment Event
- The Second Interview
- The Panel Interview
- The Lunch Interview
- The Group Interview
- The Behavioral Interview