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Handling second interviews

Interview tips

You have successfully negotiated the first interview only to find out that you have to go through it all again. How do you achieve success at the second interview stage and ensure that the desired job becomes yours?

There are five main areas to consider when preparing for a second interview.

Relief vs. fear

The first wave of relief slowly ebbs away to produce the realisation that another, bigger and more important, hurdle must now be faced. Competition will be fiercer but the good news is that you are now being seriously considered.

What else can you do to tip the scales in your favour? The key issue - as ever - is thorough preparation.

First and second interviews dissected

The first interview lays the foundations: it involves checking out your academic background, skills base and experience to see that they tie in with your CV and match the job specification.

The second interview goes a stage further and can take on different formats - you could be meeting several staff members (panel interview) or a series of one-to-one interviews. Alternatively, it could take the form of an all-day assessment centre - some have even been known to last even longer.

Whatever the format, the questions asked will probe two particular areas:

  • Are you competent to do the job? This question focuses on your skills and experience

  • Are you going to fit in with the company? This is to establish if you will be suited to the company culture


Your personality and the personal impact you make is what will really land you the job. Be yourself and let your personality shine through. Enthusiasm, positivity and honesty will go a long way

Practical aspects

Walking into an interview knowing you have done your homework will give you confidence. Your preparation should concentrate on all the practical and intellectual aspects of the interview:

  • Find out the names and titles of the interviewers beforehand

  • Check the time and location and plan your route accordingly

  • Allow extra time for your journey in case of delays. Remember to take the phone numbers of those meeting you

  • First impressions count for so much so ensure that you look clean and always wear a suit unless the environment is particularly informal

  • Take a copy of your CV, a pen and paper - it is by no means certain the interviewer will have a copy from your first visit

  • Make sure you pick up business cards of those interviewing you, along with connecting on LinkedIn

General interview tips

Think back to your first interview.

  • What main areas did the interviewers concentrate on? Be prepared for a more intense focus

  • Look at the information given to you - brochures, presentations etc. and be prepared to answer questions

  • Which questions did you find difficult? Be prepared to answer the same questions again

  • Let the interviewer know more about you - this is your chance to express your ideas

  • Think of fresh examples and information ie. about your achievements

  • Do not get distracted - focus and listen carefully to the interviewer

  • Know your skills and strengths and express them with confidence

  • Have confidence, remain calm, be concise, positive and enthusiastic

Questions to ask

Asking questions shows initiative and that you are interested in the position.

  • What am I expected to accomplish in my first six months?

  • How would you define your company culture?

  • What support will I receive for my professional development?

Be sure to have some questions prepared that relate directly to information you were given at the first interview. It not only shows enthusiasm but also that you are capable of listening.

Be sure also to clarify any of your doubts about the organisation, training etc. This is a two-way process - so it is just as much their mission to find out if they really like you as it is yours to see if you would fit in with them.

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Ireland Salary Guide 2019