how to prepare for a second interview

usnewsIf you received a call after your job interview inviting you to come back in for a second interview, congratulations! In most cases, an invitation for a second interview means that the employer is seriously considering you for the position. That’s good news.

However, if you’re like most job seekers, you might be uncertain about what to expect. Will different topics be covered? Will you meet with different people than in the first interview? Should you prepare differently?

At U.S. News & World Report today, I talk about what to expect from a second interview and how to prepare for it. You can read it here.

{ 8 comments… read them below }

  1. Triangle Pose

    Excellent advice! In my experience the second interview is heavily about the first and last bullet, but will at least minimally cover all of the bullets so you might as well prepare for everything.

    Alison, in the article you covered what the employer is looking for and how an interviewee should handle it – are there any specific things the interviewee should look for or ask in the second interview?

    I always think the second interview is a good time to get to know the culture a little bit better – now that you’ve already come in a first time, you can relax a little about travel logistics, checking in at the front, etc. and instead spend that mental energy on paying closer attention to small interactions in the environment (Do people chat in the elevators? Is everyone’s door shut? Are people nice to support staff? Is everyone’s expression frazzled or pleasant? etc.)

    I also think it’s a good opportunity to ask questions based on the information you might have gathered from your first interview – you might be better equipped the second time around to ask about collaborative work, as an example. “When I spoke with Fergus in my first interview, he mentioned working with Jane from another group on project X – do you often with other groups very often or would you say your particular role is more focused on internal projects? Would you say this role often collaborates with people in other departments?”

    Also, how fortuitous! I am having my second interview this week! I will be:
    -re-reading my prep materials (this prep document grew much longer as I started with it from the phone screen and added to it in preparing for the first in-person interview)
    -jotting down some notes on what I learned from my first interview in terms of information gathering and then writing some followup questions
    -re-reading the sections on interviewing from Alison’s book and this article

    Also, I’m going to have refresh my memory on all of the bullets from the job posting – oh what a long road!

  2. AnotherHRPro

    In addition to Alison’s great advice, I recommend doing a deeper diver on the company/organization. Especially now that you have had an interview, you probably have some new perspective. Read as much as you can about the company and try to make connections to the work of the position.

  3. Follow-up question?

    I’ve always done this with mixed results; but, is it okay to ask who I will be meeting with and what their role is before I meet with them?

    Most folks that I’ve asked this to don’t seem to have a problem; while others seemed to be taken aback by it. Is it a red flag if they cannot answer this, what I consider to be anyway, simple question?

    1. S.I. Newhouse

      That’s a totally standard question to ask before any interview, follow-up or otherwise. I’m very surprised any company would have any objection to that. If they can’t or won’t answer, I’d say that’s absolutely a red flag.

    2. Stopping By

      My experience with city government jobs is that they won’t tell you who will be interviewing with–somehow this keeps things more ‘objective.’ I was told the name of the principal person on the second interview, but not any of the supporting interviewers. And they refused to give any info all on the first interview.

  4. S.I. Newhouse

    Great article. I’m glad the point was mentioned about being asked the same questions. A few years ago, I was called for a second interview, and I got a different interviewer who asked me the EXACT same questions, in the exact same order, as the first interviewer. I answered the questions the exact same way, figuring that the two interviewers were going to compare answers to try and find inconsistencies. I chalked this up to a very strange interviewing strategy on their part, and felt kind of weirded out and on edge. (I didn’t get the job, and didn’t get any feedback and didn’t ask, so I’ll never know exactly what they were looking for.)

    1. Merry and Bright

      I came to say exactly the same thing. It happened to me too. I was not sure either if the questions were to catch me out. The factual stuff was OK but I didn’t know whether to use the same behavioural examples. Half the time I was trying to remember what I had said before. I didn’t get the job either. (Wrong team fit).

    2. Stranger than fiction

      I could understand some crossover, but that sounds like poor communication between the two interviewers or they had some sort of template they were going off of. Kind of hard to get a thorough assessment of they’re both asking the same 10 things IMO.

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