You had a great first interview — and got called back a for a second one! Here’s what to expect and how to prepare so you can land the job.
You leave your job interview feeling great. The meeting ends with a handshake and the interviewer saying, “We are interviewing lots of people this week, and I'll be in touch soon if we are interested in the next steps.” You send a thank-you note or email within 24 hours and hope for the best.
The following week, you get a phone call asking if you can come in for a second-round interview. You schedule the interview and hang up excited about your chances — but you're also nervous. What can you expect in a second-round interview and how do you prepare?
Examples of second-round interview questions
Expect to get different kinds of questions during the second-round job interview than you received during your first interview. Common second-round interview questions will be more detailed with an emphasis on finding out if your skills match their needs for the specific position. A few examples include:
Why do you want this job?
Why do you think you are the best fit for this position?
What are career goals for the next five years?
Describe your ideal work environment.
Tell me about a time you experienced a challenging or difficult situation at work and how you overcame it.
What's your proudest accomplishment in your career?
How do you handle conflict and/or change?
Do you prefer working alone or with others?
Don't think too hard about these answers. Answer honestly — most people are quick to recognize dishonesty or fibbing in interviews, and even if you'd be great at the job, you won't get the chance if you try to impress the interviewer by not being truthful.
To prepare, take these sample questions (and any others you anticipate) and write down your answers. Practice the interview with a friend, family member, or even in front of the mirror or in the shower — whatever you have to do to practice. It will leave you feeling more confident when it's time for the real interview.
Further second-round interview tips
Expect the possibility of a panel interview
During the first interview, you probably only met with one person. During a second-round interview, there may be a panel of interviewers rather than just the hiring manager or a recruiter. A common goal of a second round interview to not only to assess your skills, but also to see how well you'd work with the current team. It can seem intimidating, but you can do things beforehand to prepare and feel your most confident.
With today's technology, it's easier than ever to research most organizations. Check out the company's website, LinkedIn page, Facebook, and Twitter. If you know the people you'll be interviewing with, look them up on LinkedIn too. The more you know about the company and the people, the more easily conversation will flow. Plus, you'll look like you've done your homework, which is always impressive.
If you can, find out something exciting that has happened within the company recently. Did they win a major account? Have they grown significantly in size? Did they win an award? Being able to bring up something positive you read about the organization is a good idea — a little flattery never hurts, and being educated about the company's current events will show that you have a genuine interest in working there.
Don't be arrogant
It's easy for people (especially those early in their careers) to think that being called in for a second interview means they have one foot in the door already. This likely isn't the case.
Second-round interviews typically have many candidates, and if there are several candidates that are impressive and liked, the stakes are even higher. This is your place to shine. Be confident, but not arrogant. Avoid saying things like, “On my first day I can't wait to…” or “When will you be sending an offer?”
It's fine to ask what the timeline is for choosing a candidate, but never assume it's going to be you. Be modest, remember to have excellent manners, and don't forget to follow up with another thank-you note to each person who took the time to interview you.
Just as it's important to ask questions in the first interview, make sure you have a list of questions ready for the end of the second interview. Some great second-round interview questions include:
What is the company culture like here? What do people love most about working here?
What's the biggest challenge I would expect working here?
How do you measure job performance?
Are there any gaps in my skills or experience you see that I can help address while we are here?
What is something you are really excited about that will happen in the next one to two years here?
Asking questions helps your potential new employer recognize that you are engaged and interested in joining the company and not just looking for a job to pay the bills. It also gives them the opportunity to speak proudly about the organization and their own accomplishments.
Nailing the second interview
Any interview can make even the most confident person a bit nervous, but remember, the interviewer is probably nervous as well. They are trying to find the right fit and are cheering for every candidate to be that person.
Think of the interview as a two-way street. You are seeking the right fit for your skills and experience, and so is the company. Go into the interview prepared to answer those second-round questions with honesty and confidence, and arm yourself with good questions. Remember this and you'll be landing the right job in no time.
You got the second interview — congrats! Are you feeling confident? If not, then it might be time to talk to one of our TopInterview coaches!