What to expect at a second interview

So you’ve aced the interview, impressed your interviewer with your skills and references, and feel confident you’ve got the job in the bag. But when it comes to the call back, instead of an offer, you’re given an invitation.

“We’d like you to come in for a second interview!”

The second stage of interviews can be daunting, especially as the vast majority of interview advice revolves around you meeting the employer for the first time.

When you’ve already answered all of the questions about your greatest strengths, times you’ve worked under pressure, and what kind of animal you’d be and why, you may be wondering what exactly there is left for you to talk about.

To help you feel calm and properly prepared in advance, here is what you can expect to happen in your second interview.

Round Two

The main difference between first and second interviews is that the competition greatly intensifies in the second stage. Many candidates will have been knocked out of the running in the initial interviews with only the few left behind making the shortlist.

This is where the employer will really want to see what sets you apart from everyone else. Yes, they may have your CV on file and have your primary interview answers written down, but here they will want to hear the details of your technical abilities, understand your unique value, and try to see what you’re like as a person.

A second interview stage really narrows things down for the employer, allowing them to make direct comparisons between yourself and the other remaining candidates to choose the best possible person for the job.

Be prepared for change

If you walk into your second interview expecting it to be the same as the first, you’re going to be in for a shock.

Whilst you may have spent your best ice-breakers and a great deal of schmoozing to build rapport with your interviewer the first time around, it is extremely likely you’ll have a different hiring manager or even a more senior employee asking the questions in stage two.

Many second interviews also tend to include someone from the department you’re applying for. This is so they can better assess how well you may be able to fit into the team compared to the other candidates.

It is also possible the interview location could be changed too so don’t hold out much hope on your second interview being predictable.

Diving in at the deep end

Since the more generic questions are out of the way, second interview questions tend to go much more in depth and scenario based.

Your interviewer will be less interested in the things you have done and more interested in the how and why. In this case, it is always wise to implement the STAR technique to your answers, which is:

  • Situation – What project were you working on? Who were you working with?
  • Task – What was your specific role in the project?
  • Action – What did you do? What made you decide to do this?
  • Result – What happened as a result of your actions? How did this benefit your employer?

This method allows you to design an answer that covers every single area your interviewer will be looking at in one response. It also allows you to give more detail about your specific problem-solving skills and better communicate the value you’ve added to your teams and projects in the past.

Real talk

Second interviews are usually much more difficult than the first, and the questions can prove difficult to answer. You may feel like there are some trick questions too, with many interviewers asking things like “why don’t you want this job?” and “what would you change about this company?” to throw you off.

It is also very likely you will be asked more about your own career goals to help your interviewer gauge if you’re likely to stick around and want to improve.

Finally, there will also be the potentially awkward conversation regarding money. In a second interview, you will almost definitely be asked about your salary expectations, so make sure you walk into the room with a good idea of what you’re going to say.

This is often a chance for negotiation, so it is important you have a good understanding of your own worth in preparation for this discussion.

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At Maxwell Stephens, we have been helping match the very best FM professionals with their dream jobs for years.