The Second Interview—Don’t Blow It!

Congratulations! You’ve made it past the initial hurdle and landed a second interview. This is no small feat in today’s competitive job market. You’ve sparked interest, and now it’s time to show you’re the ideal candidate. Second interviews usually delve deeper into your qualifications, assessing how well you fit into the company culture and your potential for long-term success with their team. Here’s how to prepare and present to win the job offer.

Ask for the agenda

If the employer hasn’t sent you the agenda, request one. The agenda will show you who you are meeting with, the length of the interviews, and might include valuable information such as dress code and parking information.

Learn about your interviewers

Do some research on the individuals interviewing you to help you plan your conversations. You might be interviewed by the hiring manager, members from the team you’ll be joining or upper management, including executives or founders. Demonstrating that you’re familiar with who they are and a bit about their background helps to create connections with them.

Research The Company

Besides doing research on the interviewers, deepen your research on the company. What are the company’s values and mission? Find out about their finances. Go beyond just looking at the company website. Has the company been in the news and/or issued press releases? What does their social media tell you about their current challenges, achievements, and goals? What’s happening with their competitors? Be prepared to discuss your knowledge of the industry.

Review your notes from prior interviews

Carefully review your notes from those interviews to prepare yourself for a deeper conversation about topics you discussed. Also, review the job posting to refresh your mind on what the employer is looking for. Are there things you neglected to say? Do you stumble on a question? Be sure to set that right in the upcoming meeting.

Thoughtful Questions

Be sure to come prepared with thoughtful, open-ended questions to help get your interviewers talking. In sales, they say that if you’re doing all the talking, you’re going to lose the sale. Ask probing questions to find out more about why they’re hiring and how you can help. They aren’t hiring just because a chair is vacant. Asking the right questions can help you find their pain points and provide an opening for you to position yourself as a solution to their problems. Demonstrate how you may have addressed similar issues in the past.

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Be Prepared

  • Be prepared for a long day of talking. Bring water or a drink with you into the interview. Don’t feel obligated to respond immediately. You can always give yourself a minute by saying, “That’s a great question, can I have a minute to think about it?”
  • Be prepared for the possibility of a lunch or dinner Interview. These interviews allow the company to review your communication and interpersonal skills--as well as your table manners. Remember, this is part of your interview, so use good table manners and avoid drinking alcohol (or drink sparingly).
  • Be prepared for group interviews. Avoid the temptation to focus on the most approachable or comfortable interviewer. Make eye contact with all your interviewers. Occasionally, you might use the name of the person you’re responding to: “Well, David, that’s a good question…”
  • Be prepared to steer the conversation so that you accomplish your agenda—to show how you can help them. That should be their agenda too, but be aware that many managers lack training in how to conduct an interview.
  • Be prepared with a repertoire of well-crafted stories about your successes and weave them into the conversation.

Getting There

If it’s an in-person interview—in a different location than the first—you might want to drive to the location the day before so you’re clear about exactly where the site is, how long it will take you to get there, and where you might find parking. Aim to arrive an hour early, but don’t go into the office that early. It could be awkward if you show up too early. You might find a coffee shop or sit in your car to review your notes. Go into the office about ten minutes before your scheduled appointment.

Follow up

Do ask them for their decision-making timeframe and get their permission to follow up with them by phone.

If you get a job offer

Remember, you don’t have to make a decision on the spot. In fact, it may sometimes raise eyebrows if you do. Do express enthusiasm for the offer and ask by when they need your decision.

Decide if the Job Is a Good Fit for You

If your gut is telling you that something just isn’t right about the job, listen. You might ask for additional meetings with staff, especially the people you would work with, to make sure the job is a good fit for you. If it’s not a good fit, there are other jobs. Taking the wrong job can be a nightmare—and set you back in your career.

Compared to the first interview, a second interview will likely involve more preparation, more people, more questions, more intensity, and more pressure — in addition to more likelihood that you will land the job. Make the most of the opportunity.

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