Coming out first in your Second Interview


Congratulations! You've cleared the first hurdle in the selection process and you’re now short-listed for the second interview. You unquestionably made a good impact in your initial interview; now you have the opportunity to strengthen your position.

The first interview is a type of ‘weeding’ process, the purpose to allow the recruiter to identify individuals who are not suitable or acceptable for the vacant position and to produce a short-list of candidates who show the desired potential. Most of the first interview was used to find out who you are and to establish whether you could fill the role required. The second interview is a little more tricky and a lot more demanding, its all about assessing your enthusiasm for the position and to get a feeling for how well you will fit into the team and the company’s corporate culture.

A second interview will be more far-reaching, consisting of tougher and more taxing questions than the first. All the ‘do’s and don’ts’ for initial interviews still apply but it’s crucial now to prepare yourself more thoroughly and to uncover even more about the company and the role for which you’re applying.

The second interview usually provides a chance for another supervisor or manager, or often a panel of such people, to assess and evaluate you as well as a chance to probe for fuller information. It's also the time in which the prospective employer is gauging your potential against the other candidates. You will need to be quick-witted, incisive, alert and extremely enthusiastic.

Here are some tips to help you in your second interview.

1. Show that you’ve done your research

Visualise this second interview, from beginning to end. See yourself as performing with poise and confidence. What questions are likely to be asked? What will the interviewer really want to find out? How much do your really want the job? The preparation and research you do ahead of the interview will give you an idea of what to expect. Be ready for any eventuality.

2. Know the company

You already know something about the company because you’ve experienced the first interview. Now is the time to really go to town and find out a lot more about your prospective employer – products, markets, size, culture, mission, and so on. Prior to your second interview, you should learn as much as possible about the company. This lets the interviewer see that you are enthusiastic and serious about the position without merely and passively indicating that you would like it. In your second interview, the interviewer will be looking for increased knowledge of the company and the position for which you’ve applied.

Your knowledge of the company will contribute to the positive image you must create. So research the company before the interview. If you can, talk to others who work there; ask for information about the firm; use the Internet and your local library’s reference books on private and public organisations in the area.

3. Know the job

Learn everything you can about the role you‘ve applied for and how your previous studies, training and experience qualify you for this position. Examine the job description in great detail and study and delve into the work involved. Rehearse any likely question, just remember the questions are probably going to be deeper and more demanding then they were in your initial interview.

4. Know yourself

Review your CV before the interview to have it fresh in your mind, because your interviewer will probably want to take you through it again, section by section.

5. Offer new information

You likely spoke a lot about your experiences and accomplishments in the initial interview, now, in the second interview, you’ll find more scope to talk about your ideas, the ways you can contribute and your career ambitions. Keep your discussions brief and to the point but you will want your interviewer to learn more about you, just as you want to learn more about your prospective employer and the role you are applying for.

6. Give new examples of what you have accomplished

This can be especially effective if you've done additional preparation and research. For example, in the initial interview you spoke about your results as a job-holder in your present role; now try to bring out facts about additional experience and accomplishments gained in your previous positions.

7. IQ, personality and aptitude tests

Such testing is becoming increasingly popular. Group discussions and group case study exercises are not uncommon in second interviews, and are often used by the Civil Service, the armed forces and some of the larger business organisations. Case interviewing on a one-to-one basis is often used for filling important and senior positions. Also, there is a strong chance that you will be involved in a panel interview and may be invited to meet a panel of up to four people at the same time.

8. Prepare questions of your own

Interviewers pay as much attention to your questions as they do your answers, and they'll react positively if you ask intelligent and thought-provoking questions about the position, the company and the industry. (Examples: Where does this position fit into the organisation as a whole? Are there problems in this position with labour turnover, meeting deadlines, accuracy, relationships, etc.? What is the largest single problem facing your department now?)

The type of facts you’ll want to learn about are covered by asking questions such as:

  • What will you expect of me? What are my responsibilities?
  • How will my performance be evaluated?
  • Where will I fit into the overall organisation?
  • Who will report to me?
  • Why did the person who held this job leave?
  • What is the labour turnover in your department?
  • Where do you see this company in five years time?
  • Is there room for promotion? How long might I wait?
  • How would you describe your leadership style?

9. Be prepared to negotiate your remuneration package

Before the interview:

  • Do your homework. Check the salaries on offer for similar roles, by consulting a salary checker, of which there are numerous on the Web. Creating your own ‘Salary Profile’ (which involves recording the salary levels in your fields of work) and keeping a watchful eye on changes and updating it so that you always know the average value for your professional skills. It is important that you negotiate a remuneration package from a position of strength by having the most recent salary information for your professional position.
  • Know your needs and wants. Calculate what you need in terms of salary to make the job rational and valuable. Don't forget to include any additional expenditure you might incur from changing positions, such as relocation, travel costs, loss of company pension orchildcare. If you’re expecting a prospective employer to match or improve your existing remuneration, include all your benefits and expected bonuses when calculating your current remuneration package. You’ll have a range in mind of what you'd really like – but be sensible – if you ask for too much, you could seem demanding and unrealistic.
  • Practice your approach to handling likely questions. The two probable questions are "What kind of salary do you want?" and "What are you looking for?" Thebottom line here is, “Everything’s up for negotiation." If it's too soon to talk about money, a good idea is to change the discussion topic to the job itself – its requirements or expectations and how you think you will be able to contribute to it. This provides for an easier entry point into the money talk and you will have more justification for any reasonable demand you make. Be familiar with possible perks and benefits, and ways to increase your remuneration package. Brainstorming with fellow professionals can be useful here. For example, if the position is one of auditor which requires a lot of travel in your own car, you can even negotiate mileage allowances for driving. Anything is potentially negotiable, provided you are prepared to negotiate!

There is often a very small gap between the successful applicant and the other candidates and the attention you give to detailed preparation ahead of the interview will often give you the edge you need to ensure that it is you who comes out on top.