Advancing to the second interview is a strong sign that the key hiring decision makers are somewhat invested in you. While you should be excited about being one step closer to a new job, you should also be well prepared for what lies ahead. The 2nd interview means it’s go-time and that means you’ll want to shine so that the people who are bringing you back in will look like superstars for doing so.
How to Prepare
Since the initial candidates were eliminated after the first round, there will be less competition for the job. However, this doesn’t mean you get to slack. This means you’ll have to focus on finding a way to stand out among a smaller pool of candidates. One way to do this is by having done your research and being well-versed on the company and role. You’ll also want to focus on starting to build relationships, especially with repeat interviewers.
Be professional but let your “nerves” guard down and try to keep the interview conversational – not awkward or tense.
Let your personality shine through so they can start to feel a connection as well as any qualities that would make you a cultural fit.
What to Expect
In terms of what to expect, the second interview usually entails a follow-up conversation with any key stakeholders that you would have likely met in the first interview, such as your future boss. You can also expect to meet future team members or even senior leadership. The hiring manager will be weighing his or her colleagues’ opinions so continue to focus on being your best you and creating positive impressions with everyone you meet. You will be able to do this through your conversation so it’s important to have questions ready for each category of employee you might encounter.
How to Engage Your Interviewers
The key to engaging with different levels of employee is to understand the role they play, how they would interface with you in your new role and key challenges they will need you to help them overcome. If you are interfacing with a team member, get to the heart of how the two of you would work together and what their ideal team member brings to the table.
Ask Great Questions
Prepare a handful of smart questions to ask your interviewers. Strong, smart questions have the potential to keep interviewers engaged, intrigued, and wanting more. Do a fair amount of research on the organization and your interviewers in prepping these questions. Review the interviewers Linkedin profiles to capture any shared background/alumni organizations or interests. Re-engage the first round interviewers on any topics in which expressed interest initially. Focus your questions around getting to know each stakeholder very strategically based on these areas of engagement. For a senior stakeholder, ask questions around his or her vision for you in the role as well as the bigger picture company goals. In all cases, ask your interviewers about their challenges, pain-points, and expectations. Keep it very conversational. For ideas about what not to ask, check out this blog post.
Questions You Can Expect
Asking questions is half of the conversation so also be prepared for the questions that will come your way. Second interview questions tend to shift in nature, from the initial interview which was likely aimed at screening talent out. Expect to answer questions that reveal more depth around specific responsibilities or challenges. Employers will share a specific, hypothetical situation, relevant to your future responsibilities and ask how you will handle it. For these questions, you’ll want to speak to the skills your hiring manager is trying to assess based on how you plan to handle the situation. The interviewers may also ask questions around some red flags they picked up in the initial interview. Be prepared to answer anything that you feel they perceived as awkward or concerning from the first interview.
Your Best Bet
The second interview is a huge accomplishment and if you have been diligent about preparation, you should be in good shape. When in doubt, remember: people hire people they like, so be confident, pleasant and personable so you’ll leave everyone wanting more.