If you’ve been invited in for a second interview—congratulations! While each employer is different, this typically means you were chosen for the final stages in the hiring process with a smaller set of candidates they are seriously considering. The company is interested in you and your experience, so it’s helpful to understand what employers expect from your second interview so you can put your best foot forward.
In this guide, we’ll talk about what you can expect on your second interview, how you can prepare and what steps you can take to succeed.
What to expect in a second interview
In a second interview, you should expect a more in-depth discussion about how you will operate in the role. By this point, you will have already had an introduction with the employer during an application, phone screen or first interview. Your second interview is to solidify your standing as a strong candidate by showcasing your experience, skills and knowledge about the business. A second interview can mean different things depending on where you’re interviewing. It could mean you’re talking to:
- The hiring manager for the second time
- More members of the team you’ll be joining
High-level or executive leadership
The company has an open position because they are trying to fill a need or grow in a certain way. Whether they are hiring to speed up a process, add specific skills or increase output, it is important to show them how you will bring value to their organization.
How to prepare for your second interview
1. Ask for the agenda
If the employer hasn’t already sent you the agenda, politely ask them for the itinerary for the day. The agenda will show you who you are meeting with, the length of the interviews and can have valuable information such as dress code, parking information and more. Knowing the layout of the day can help you prepare and give you a sense of ease in knowing what to expect from the day.
2. Learn about your interviewers
The agenda for the day will typically have the names of the individuals interviewing you. This allows you to do a bit of research on your interviewers, which might help you when planning 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.
In addition to the research you’ll be doing about your interviewers, this is the time to do a deep dive on the company. You’ll want to know the company’s values and mission, business operations and any recent news or events they’ve been involved in. Doing this research will show the company that you’re invested and serious about the opportunity, and also allows you to explore if they are a good fit for you. Remember that you are interviewing the company as much as they are interviewing you.
Read more: The Complete Guide to Researching a Company
4. Brush up on your trade
The second interview will be a more in-depth conversation about the role and your abilities. In certain professions, it may also be a time for the interviewers to test your industry knowledge or technical skills. The agenda should let you know what type of interviews to prepare for, so be on the lookout for technical interviews, case studies or presentations that will test your skills and plan accordingly.
You should also bring ideas and recommendations for the team, product or program you’ll be working on if possible. For example, if you’re interviewing for a social media marketing job, you might bring ideas based on your research of the organization’s current social media content. If it comes up in conversation, preparing this way shows that you’re serious and excited about the job. It also shows you’re competent enough to have opinions and ideas based on your experience and expertise.
5. Review notes from your previous interviews
Before your second interview, you might have had one or more conversations with the recruiter and hiring manager. Take time to carefully read through your notes from those interviews so you can feel prepared to have a more in-depth discussion and ask informed, thoughtful questions of your interviewers. You should also review the job posting to refresh your knowledge about the position and what the employer expects in an ideal candidate.
6. Prepare responses to common interview questions
During your phone screen and first interview, you were likely asked questions like “tell me about yourself” or “why do you want to work here.” For your second interview, you should expect more role-specific, in-depth interview questions. For example, you might be asked about how your experience has prepared you to perform specific tasks or how you might respond to a given situation on the job. Take time to think of answers to behavioral questions to feel prepared and confident when having these conversations.
7. Dress appropriately
Second-round interviews are sometimes held in-person or over video conference, so it’s important to find out the appropriate attire for the company. Review the company’s website and social media to gain a sense of the workplace, what people wear to the office and what level of formality is appropriate. As a best practice, aim to dress a level above what the everyday attire is for the company.
Read more: What to Wear to a Job Interview
8. Prepare questions for your interviewers
At some point, your interviewers will likely ask if you have any questions for them. It’s highly recommended to ask your interviewer relevant, thoughtful questions to give you a better understanding of whether the position is the right fit for you and show the interviewer that you have a genuine interest in the role and company. Consider preparing a list of 5-10 questions to bring with you, and add questions to that list that arise during the interview.
1. Research the company and your interviewers
2. Practice your answers to common interview questions
3. Study the job description
4. Answer questions using the STAR method
5. Recruit a friend to practice answering questions
6. Be prepared with examples of your work
7. Plan your interview attire the night before
8. Prepare smart questions for your interviews
9. Bring copies of your resume, a notebook and pen
10. Tie your answers back to your skills and accomplishments
8 tips to succeed at your second interview
Here are a few additional things you can do to make your second interview as successful as possible:
1. Be confident
Communicate both with your body language and your voice that you are confident and excited for the second interview. Stand when your interviewer enters the room, greet them with a medium-firm handshake and answer questions with a strong speaking voice. Keep your feet on the ground or crossed at the ankles, your chin high and your shoulders back when answering questions.
2. Show excitement
The second interview can sometimes be a full day of interviews with various people from the organization. It’s important to keep your excitement and enthusiasm consistent throughout the day as each of these individuals will be evaluating you independently.
3. Be genuinely curious
Let the conversation flow naturally between you and your interviewer, displaying your knowledge about the organization and genuine curiosity about how to succeed in the role. While you should save your questions for the end, write down notes that might help you explore certain topics deeper when you have the chance to ask questions.
4. Strengthen your answer with examples
When answering questions, you should go into detail about how your past experience has qualified you to take on the challenges of this job. You can use the STAR interview method to prepare stories and examples ahead of time that can be used to answer many different kinds of questions.
5. Prepare to do most of the talking
Aside from brief intros and questions from your interviewers, you will be the main person talking throughout the interview–and it can feel like a lot, especially if you’re not innately outgoing. Mentally prepare for a long day of talking, bring water or a drink with you into the interview and don’t be afraid to take natural pauses throughout the interview. You can always use, “That’s a great question, can I have a minute to think about it?” to give yourself a few moments to collect your thoughts and take a break.
6. Get some rest
You may not be able to control what happens in the interview, but you can control your state of being before entering it. The interview is your time to show your best self, so make sure you are well-rested and well-fed before going into the interview so that you’re not distracted by fatigue or hunger. Try to get a full eight-hours of sleep the night before and eat a nutritious meal beforehand.
7. Send thank-you notes to your interviewers
After your second interview is over, send follow up notes or emails to each of your interviewers immediately. If possible, recall topics from the conversation in your note to show that you are attentive and genuinely interested in the position.
8. Follow up
The interviewers may give you a timeframe at the end of the interview about when you can expect to hear from them about next steps. If they don’t, politely ask them for the timeframe. When that time lapses it’s appropriate to follow-up and check-in. This shows your genuine interest in the opportunity and can give you insight into where they are at with their decision.
Preparing for your second or third interviews can seem daunting. Taking time to prepare can help you feel confident and calm. Remember, they’ve chosen you out of many possible candidates, so feel proud and excited about the opportunity to move forward in the hiring process.