Got a second interview? Here's what to expect

9 min read | Robby Vanuxem | Article | Job searching Interview advice

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How does a second interview differ from the first and how do you prepare? Robby Vanuxem shares his insights.

Congratulations! You’ve been asked back for a second interview and you’re one step closer to securing the job. However, you may be feeling unsure as to how this interview will differ from the first one, and how best to prepare. During your first interview, you probably met with someone from HR, as well as 
your would-be boss. At the second interview stage, you are likely to meet someone more senior within the business. This person will ultimately have the 
final say on the hiring decision.


Your second interview at a glance

There are several ways in which a second interview is different to the first. There are some details you should confirm with your recruiter before attending the second interview, and you should remember that you'll be assessed on evidence of your competencies and fit. Keep on reading to find out more about the second interview.


Ask your recruiter who will take the second interview

Prior to your second interview, confirm with your recruiter who will be conducting it. This will allow you to research this person beforehand online. In doing this, you may discover that you have shared interests or backgrounds. This will make you feel more at ease in the interview room and increase your chances of building up rapport.


Confirm what format the second interview will be

Don’t assume the format of your second interview will be the same as the first. You may be prepared for a one-on-one interview, only to be faced with a panel of stakeholders on the day. Check with your recruiter how many people are interviewing you.

If the prospect of selling yourself to a group of stakeholders fills you with dread, then brush up on some tips for communicating confidence and presenting to a number of people. Practice in front of a group of friends or family beforehand.

On the day of the interview, remember to interact with everyone in the room. Make eye contact with everyone in the room and remember everyone’s name and address them as such. Whilst it may seem daunting, tackling this skill now will serve you well as you progress in your career.


Think about what your interviewer will want to assess

Your second interviewer will have different objectives to the first. Be prepared to be assessed on the following key pieces of information your interviewer is likely to be after in your second interviewer.

1. Your level of interest in the role and organisation

The interviewer will want to determine whether you are still as interested in this opportunity having met with the company and learnt more about the role. If you are still keen, show it!

Tell the interviewer what you enjoyed learning about the organisation in your first interview and use this opportunity to voice any questions that have cropped up since you last met.

2. If you have the skills required

During your first interview, the interviewer will ask questions about your career highlights, key skills and attributes. During this second interview, the hiring 
manager will be looking for more detailed evidence of these competencies. These could be via questions like “describe a time when you showcased your x skills” or “how would you approach x situation”.

Prepare for competency-based interview questions by revisiting the core requirements of the role, plus some examples of times you have showcased these skills. Now think about how you plan to implement these skills if successful in this role. You should check with your recruiter to see if you are required to bring physical examples of your work or prepare any presentations.

3. Are you the right “fit”?

A large part of the second interview is to establish whether you’re a good fit for the company in terms of culture and personality. You could be asked questions surrounding your hobbies and interests, how your friends would describe you, and what type of culture you prefer to work in.

It is important that you remain authentic and honest, after all, the second interview is your chance to critically assess how good a “fit” this organisation is for you too. Prepare some of your own questions for the end of the interview, which could help provide insight into what life at this organisation is like. These questions may include “how would you describe the team?” or “what’s your favourite aspect of working at this organisation?”

4. Addressing and resolving any reservations or doubts

The interviewer may be looking to use the second interview to overcome some of their reservations from the first interview. You should determine what these may be before the interview.

Try and recall any recurring questions that they asked in the first interview. Was there anything that you struggled to answer? You can ask the recruiter for 
feedback surrounding this.

What about any skills gaps or areas of the job which you aren’t fully equipped to do? Consider whether you could teach yourself this skill in advance, or commit to learning it in the near future. You should also outline that you are a fast learner and keen to develop, by giving examples of times when you quickly upskilled yourself in the past.

5. Your availability and salary

Lastly, the second interview can often be the stage when the interviewer is looking to know your notice period and salary expectations. Have this information ready. If you are unsure of how to negotiate your salary, check out our salary guides and advice surrounding this topic.


What are the next steps?

At the end of your second interview, the interviewer should confirm the next steps. If not, you can politely ask. Remember to thank them for their time and 
send a follow-up email to either the interviewer or the recruiter to pass on. This should reiterate that you enjoyed meeting with them and are still interested in the position. I go into more detail on best practices following an interview in a previous blog, which you can read here.


What you need to remember about preparing for your second interview

There are a few important ways you can prepare for your second interview. Firstly, find out who the second interviewer is and research them before meeting them. Then, be sure you know what format the second interview will be in and how many people you will be interviewed by. Lastly, be sure to think about what the second interviewer is trying to assess when they meet you.

In understanding the purpose of the second interview, you can improve your preparation strategy, provide the hiring manager with the information they need to know about you, and ultimately, tell them exactly why they should hire you above everyone else


About this author

Robby Vanuxem, Managing Director of Hays Belgium.

Robby Vanuxem has over 20 years of industry experience, including over 15 in Hays. He started in 2000 in the world of HR and worked his way up the ranks – from consultant over Business Director to Regional Director – until he reached the Managing Director position in 2015.

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