Congratulations on getting to the second round of interviews! You are one step closer to getting hired, so what can you do to increase your chances now that the stakes are higher? Here is what a second interview means, what to expect and how you can prepare.
What does the second interview mean?
Getting a second interview means that you have successfully impressed the interviewers in the first round and the employers would like to get to know you on a deeper level. They want to make sure that you are the right fit for their company and the position! It is no small feat - a normal corporate job vacancy will receive an average of 250 resumes but only 2-4 candidates will be invited for an second interview. There is a 25-50% chance of getting the job after the second interview. For larger companies and higher-level positions, you may have a couple more rounds of interviews to tackle before landing the position, but for many positions, especially entry-level jobs, the second interview is the last round of interview before the offer stage.
Regardless, a second interview is your chance to affirm the company that you are the right fit for the position and get them excited about having you on board. Hence, be confident of your abilities and start your second interview preparation early!
Who will be at the second interview?
Recruiters or the HR officer contacting you will inform you who is on the interview panel. Depending on the size of the hiring company and the organization structure, the panel of interviewers for the second interview could vary greatly.
If you are interviewing for an entry-level job, you could be meeting the senior managers, department heads or directors at the second interview. Future colleagues could also be invited to sit in and ask questions. For senior positions, upper management may attend. There could also be members from other departments attending the second interview to assess your fit with the company.
In today’s day and age, it is a common practice to research on your interviewers as part of your interview preparation. Higher management may also have various articles written on them and given interviews regarding their career and the company. Find out more about their work interest, management style, and maybe even some of the business operations and ideas they have initiated. Information like these will give you a better sense of who you are meeting and prepare you for the questions to expect. You can also start thinking about the questions you can ask them.
What happens at a second interview?
Usually, the first interview helps the hiring team assess if you are qualified for the role, and the second interview helps them delve deeper into your personal skills or soft skills to assess your fit with the company. You should also be prepared to go over some of the same questions you have been asked at the first interview if you are meeting new interviewers. It may be useful if you have kept some notes from your first interview to go over. However, assessing your fit with the company does not mean that your hard skills are not being evaluated. Sometimes, you could be given an assessment or test to be completed prior to the interview or on the day itself.
You can also expect the second interview to take longer than the first interview. In general, in-person interviews can last between 45 mins – 90mins, but some companies can take up to a day. This is because there are more interviewers on the panel, less candidates to interview, and you might have more questions to ask. You will also be expected to give more comprehensive answers and discuss them. However, do not panic if the interview is shorter than you expected it to be. Observing the interviews’ body language, tone and facial expressions could be a better way to gage your performance at the interview.
The second interview also tests your ability to perform under pressure. At the second interview, you are closer to the job and likely to be meeting people of higher ranking within the company. So, make sure you attend the interview well prepared, and even better prepared than you were for the first interview.
How to prepare for the second interview?
Once again, remember that the objective of the second interview is likely to be assessing your suitability not just within the role itself, but also your fit with the company. Preparing to answer questions for the second interview is very much like preparing for your first interview, but much answers to second interview questions should be much more in-depth.
Be familiar with your CV and experiences.
Here are some questions you want to think about when you look at your CV: How can you contribute to the company with your experiences? What are some challenges or experiences you have encountered that can support your answers? Are there any specific projects or initiatives you have managed?
This is also a good time to think about your soft skills. Second interview questions could include more situational and behavioral questions to assess your personal skills.
If you managed to find this opportunity through a recruiter, ask if they have any feedback regarding your performance at the first interview.
Know the actionable ways you can contribute.
Understanding the company is a given. After all you have already done thorough research on it during your first interview. You should also have also gotten a better understanding of the company from the first interview panel from the things they shared and questions you asked. For the second round of interview, we suggest you go through your notes (even if they are mental notes) and ask yourself, what are the actionable things you can do to help the company?
Bring your knowledge together and come up with suggestions, be prepared to answer questions related to solving the company’s key issues.
Come up with questions.
A key second interview tip is that you should always, always ask questions! Asking questions shows your enthusiasm for the job and helps the interviewers visualize you in the role. Perhaps after digesting the information at the first interview, you find yourself having a couple of follow up questions that you would like to ask.
You are not the only one being assessed at this interview. As you approach the final stages of the interview process, you should also be evaluating if this is the right job fit and company for you. This is also a good chance to learn about your potential colleagues and see if they are people you aspire to work with. You should also ask questions about your reporting manager’s management style and what is expected of you.
Remember that getting a second interview is a significant milestone in your job application journey. It shows that the employer is genuinely interested in you as a candidate! To make the most of this opportunity, remember to build on the strengths you have shown in your first interview, prove that you have done research on the company and role by delving deeper, and refine your responses based on the feedback you have received. Be prepared, confident, and have a positive attitude. You are one step closer to landing your dream job!