We’re all told that first impressions count. But in the world of recruitment, it’s really the second round interview that’s your time to shine. So if you’ve turned heads with your CV, aced the first interview and progressed to the next stage, knowing what to anticipate in a second interview can get you over the finish line. Here is our advice about what to expect and how to prepare.
What is the second interview all about?
Most companies interview candidates twice – sometimes more – so if you’ve gotten through the first round and been invited back for seconds, well done, you’re in with a strong chance. First round interviews are generally a screening process and a chance for employers to whittle down the candidate pool from the number of people, who on paper, seem to be right for the job. The second round is more in depth and the potential employer will be trying to gauge whether you can really add value to their company and very importantly, whether you’ll fit in.
First interviews are usually with someone from HR or mid-management, whereas a second interview is likely to involve more senior management, or team members that you would be working for or with. You may be asked to prepare a presentation to demonstrate your suitability for the role – if this is the case, ensure that you completely understand the brief and don’t be afraid to ask if you need any further clarification.
Your second interview is likely to be in the form of a panel interview. This is so that a) your skill set can be assessed by a wider (and probably more relevant) audience and b) multiple people can suss out your personality! Opinions of even the most junior members of staff will matter and ultimately you will need everyone to like you. Aside from delving into whether you really have the skills they need, interviewers are also deciding upon whether or not they would actually enjoy working with you.
Do your homework
Where possible, ask your point of contact for details of the person – or people – you will be meeting. This will give you time to have a look at their roles and probably their professional background, through platforms such as Twitter or LinkedIn. Do they publish blogs or contribute professional articles? Reading up on the company and their people will help you to understand its culture, goals and type of people they employ, so you can begin to understand their thought process. Preparing some examples to show how you would fit into this environment will help the interviewer to envisage you working for them.
It’s fair to say that most companies now have at least a website if not social media pages, so there’s really no excuse for not brushing up on your knowledge of what’s going on in the employer’s world. Recruiters are always impressed by candidates who have researched their company and show a genuine interest in its ambitions, so plan a couple of questions to ask about this.
Build on your first interview
Although you’ve ticked all boxes for the interviewers so far, you have to assume that other candidates have done the same. Think about where you fell down in your last meeting, so that you can fully prepare for those areas in the next one. If you’ve since had a chance to think through your answer more thoroughly and have come to a different conclusion – say so. On the flip side, also think about what went well and what you feel they were impressed by, so you can emphasise this the second time round.
You need to show the employer that you can solve their recruitment problem. They want confirmation of their instinct that you are a strong candidate and can meet the needs of the role – questions are therefore likely to be competency based, to test your skills and ability to cope with certain situations. If you can show a genuine insight into the role, the challenges faced by the company and an enthusiasm for making a real difference to its performance, you might just be the chosen one.
In the final minutes of your second interview, if it hasn’t already been discussed now is be the time to talk about salary, so have a firm idea about what sort of pay you’re expecting. It can be a difficult subject to broach but keep in mind how much of an asset you’d be to them and don’t undersell yourself. Don’t forget to ask about next steps and find out when you can expect feedback, or news on whether you were successful in securing the role. If you are offered the job there and then, don’t feel obliged or pressured to accept on the spot, but do check when they would need a response by.