You’ve got through the first interview, and been invited back for a second. It’s important that you feel confident, but it’s equally important to remember that you’ve got to give it your all again. Here are our top tips to ace your second interview.
“One of the best things about being a Recruitment Consultant was telling a candidate they’d been offered a job. The second-best feeling was telling them they’d been offered a second interview and the satisfaction I then got from preparing them for it” says ex-recruiter and career coach, Michelle Baker.
While finding out that your first interview was a success can give you that mini fist-bump feeling, there’s still another hoop to jump through, and as much preparation needs to go into the second interview as the first.
Second job interviews are as varied as they come: some involve a meeting with the CEO, a presentation or a group task. On the flipside, some result in a verbal offer and a negotiation of salary expectations, whilst others can lead on to a third or even fourth meeting. No matter how far along you are in the interview process, the key is to never get complacent. If they’ve invited you to the second stage, the other applicants that passed the initial round will be of a similar standard to you, meaning the competition will be fierce!
With this in mind, we’ve rounded up our advice on how to prepare for that second interview and hit that homerun to a brand-new job.
What’s the follow up interview scenario?
It’s important to get an idea of what the set-up of the second interview is likely to be. Most recruitment and HR teams will tell you, especially if there’s a task you need to prepare for, but if they haven’t, don’t be afraid to ask!
“Always ask your recruiter what will be happening on the day, who you will be meeting, whether it’s a group interview, if there’s a task you’re expected to prepare for, or if you need to bring a portfolio along” says Beth Rosser, Talent Engagement Specialist at recruitment firm Pivotal London. “Knowing as much as you can in advance will help you to know what to prepare for, so that you can perform as well as you did in the second stage as you did in the first!”
Once you know who you’re meeting with, it’s a good idea to check them out on LinkedIn to gain an idea of their position within the company and their level of expertise. Have a look at their previous experience, places of study and interests. You never know, you might have gone to the same university, or worked at the same company, which will give you plenty to talk about!
Ask for feedback
It’s normal to feel apprehensive about the second interview, but the good news is that you’ve clearly done something right! What’s important now is that you channel your first-stage interview mojo into the second stage.
The key now is to identify your strengths and weaknesses in an interview situation, to help you know what to do, and what not to do! However, it’s not always that easy: that question you thought you fluffed up, might have gone down a storm. Equally, that elevator pitch you thought you nailed, might need some work.
With this in mind, it’s a good idea to ask the recruiter if they’re able to send any feedback your way. “Whether you’re speaking with the HR team, an in-house or agency recruiter, always ask for feedback on your first interview if you can.” Anna Skelton, Senior HR Business Partner at Jobsite says. “Not only does this help you to identify the areas you need to work on and improve your interview technique for next time, it shows real self-awareness and an eagerness for the job.”
Ask the recruiter what they liked about your interview, what you could have worked on, and what they want to know more about you and your experience. You can also use this as an opportunity to find out about the competition, and see how many other candidates are going through to the next stage.
A different interviewer second time around
At the second interview, you’re most likely to be meeting someone more senior than the first, meaning it’s even more important that you bring your A-game! Our advice would be to prepare for this interview in a similar way that you prepared for the first: have a snappy elevator pitch in the bank, round up your qualities and skills and how they fit the job at hand, bring examples of your work; practice the STAR technique for answering both general and curveball second interview questions, and make sure you work on your non-verbal interview techniques.
Whatever you do, don’t assume that your first interviewer relayed feedback to the second. If you’re meeting the interviewer for the first time, it’s imperative that you go into as much detail about your experience, skills and enthusiasm for this position as you did the first time round.
The same second interviewer
If you’re meeting the same person that interviewed you the first time, you need to ensure that you can add value to this second interview, rather than going over what you discussed the first time. Research the company in even more depth this time, and keep an eye on their social feeds to see if they have any news you could mention. Another good idea would be to catch up on industry news, and ask them for their opinion on it, what your take on it is, and how it might impact their business.
Or perhaps they mentioned a problem that the business is facing when you last met; why not show initiative and come up with your ideas on a solution to the problem?
On the day of the second interview
Make sure you know where you’re going and your route in is sorted – never assume it’s where your previous interview was! Have your outfit ready to go, too, and make sure you’re feeling confident!
Always remember to thank them for the opportunity at the end of the interview, and that you appreciate the time they’ve taken to meet with you. And, once you’ve had your interview, make sure you follow up to say thanks again, and to provide any further information or examples of work that might have been missing in the interview. Again, this will show how enthusiastic for the job you are.
Last of all, remember to take notes on the questions you thought you answered well, and how you might be able to improve. Hopefully you’ve got the job secured, but these interview techniques will prove handy if you are asked in for a third time, or if on this occasion you aren’t successful.