Success in the second interview

How to make the second interview a success

An invitation to a second interview is no reason to relax. Although you’ve left many other applicants behind, you now have to beat the strongest candidates. We’ll tell you what you can expect in the second interview and what you should be prepared for.

The second interview requires just as much thorough preparation as the first and in some ways is an even bigger challenge. Eight tips you should follow to make it through the second interview:

1) Don’t be afraid of new faces

For this reason, you should prepare to be asked some of the same questions as last time and to briefly present your professional background again. You should therefore be able to talk about the most important stages on your CV in a structured and clear way in the second interview too.

2) Learn from the first interview

Before the second interview, call to memory which topics were mentioned the first time and which ones were especially important to the human resources manager. Show that you have thought about it and can contribute new ideas on the topic. Also, the way you present yourself in the first and second interviews should fit together to form a consistent impression. You will only achieve this if you are authentic from the start.

3) Be prepared for more probing questions

You should expect the questions in the second interview to be much more detailed. You may be asked to talk about specific parts of your CV in more detail and to give an opinion on specific challenges in your particular area of work. This is to check your transferable skills from one job to another. You can also expect questions such as, “If you get the job, what will you do in the first year to establish yourself?”. You should also be prepared to explain the reasons for your planned change of jobs or to be confronted with questions about your private life: for example, if regular business trips or a move would be possible for you. That’s why you should think about answering critical questions right in advance.

4) Answering tricky questions

Along with typical questions in the interview, you may be expected to undergo what's known as a stress test the second time around. Using especially tricky, confusing or even provocative questions, the human resources manager is testing your spontaneity, creativity and stress-resistance. These questions can range from making you feel unsure, such as, “Aren’t you a little underqualified for the job?” to dilemma situations, in which you have to decide between two options, or apparently absurd riddles like: “How much does Manhattan weigh?”. You're not expected to come up with the right answer to these kinds of questions, but to describe a possible way of solving it. This is testing your ability to solve problems and also getting you to reveal some of your personality. You will pass these tests with flying colours if you always stick to the facts and stay diplomatic, look at the situation from different perspectives and give good reasons for your answers. Don’t lose your cool.

5) Be active and ask questions

You will have more opportunities to ask questions about the position, the company and the day-to-day work in the second interview. Prove that you’re well informed about the company and that you know the sector. You should have studied any accessible information about the company thoroughly, for example on their website. News reports in local or national media can also provide valuable insights. For example, ask questions that refer to current events or developments. Like a planned new office location or new products. Also, make a note in advance of things that are still not clear to you about the job and the area you will work in, and use the second interview to clear up any open questions you may have.

6) Don’t be afraid to talk about your salary

Expect to talk about your salary in the second interview. However, you should wait until the person interviewing you raises the topic. In order to not only leave a good impression on the topic of salary, but also to get what you deserve, you must know about what the standard pay is in your sector. Salary surveys and tools such as the Robert Half salary calculator can help you find information.

7) Explore the company

It’s possible that you will be taken on a tour of the company after the second interview and briefly introduced to your potential colleagues. If you like what you see, you should show it. Be open and friendly if your potential colleagues are introduced to you and ask relevant questions. If you are shown various different departments, you could ask about what exactly their importance is for your future department and how they both work together day to day.

8) Ask what happens next

At the end of the conversation, you should find out what happens next. In many cases, the second interview is the last round of selection. If you have convinced the company that you’re right for the job, you will get an offer. Prepare to react to this. But be careful: this doesn’t mean you have to accept or decline straight away. But think about the circumstances under which you would accept the job. Then you can talk about your demands and expectations. If you are not 100 percent sure, it's better ask for a couple of days to think about it. The interviewers will understand.
In some cases there will be further rounds of interviews. Use the opportunity to ask what you can expect, so that you can prepare properly for these too.

Conclusion: don’t let yourself get nervous

While the first interview is mainly about getting to know one another, the second interview is more about the details. The human resources manager will ask you more probing questions. You will also be up against other very well-qualified competitors who have also made it into the second round. That’s why preparing well is even more important. If you are prepared for the situations described, there is no reason to be nervous and you can start the interview with the encouraging thought that the company is very interested in you.