How to approach a second interview

Dan Mason, Editorial manager
May, 2019

If an employer can't quite decide who is best for the job, they may ask you to attend a second interview - giving you another chance to show them they should choose you

Being called to a second interview can provoke mixed emotions: delight at having passed the first interview and frustration about having yet another hurdle to clear. It's important to approach this challenge in a positive manner - after all, you've clearly impressed the employer to get this far and you're very close to securing the job.

Second interviews are most often used by graduate recruiters who receive large numbers of applications and the competition for each position is fierce.

Preparing for a second interview

You may wonder whether you'll have anything new to say, given that you presented your greatest hits the first time around. But a second interview shouldn't be too daunting if you prepare thoroughly.

Check your invite to the second interview for information about what it will involve. Things to look out for include:

If you have any notes from the first interview, read them again to remind yourself how it went. Which answers were your best and which were weakest? Did you forget to mention some key experience or successes that you've had? What areas were not covered at all so might come up next time?

Another important way to prepare is by refreshing your research about the role and the company, as you'll certainly be expected to have significant knowledge by this stage of the process. Find out more about how to prepare for an interview.

Second interviews should be taken just as seriously as first interviews, so get the basics right. You don't want to get this far then fail because you turned up late or dressed inappropriately.

Second interview questions

It's hard to predict what questions will come up in a second interview. Your interviewer may want to cover the same topics as before, but in greater detail, or they may prefer to discuss different issues entirely. For example, if the first interview focused on your existing skills and experiences, the second may centre on how you'd approach specific challenges in the role.

Alternatively, you may be on the cusp of getting a job offer, and the employer simply wants to question you about one or two areas where you slightly underperformed last time - just to be sure they've got the right candidate.

Prepare answers to common interview questions. If you were asked them at your first interview, make sure you have additional detail or new things to say in response. The interviewer is likely to quote your first interview back at you and expect you to expand on or explain your answers. Ensure you have evidence to back up any claims you made.

Meanwhile, any common questions that weren't asked last time around will almost certainly come up on this occasion, so have an answer ready.

Questions to ask in a second interview

Even more so than before, you must have at least one or two questions to ask the interviewer at the end of a second interview. You're very close to getting a job offer, which is a significant moment for anyone - the employer will be very surprised if you don't have any queries at this stage.

See 7 good questions to ask an interview for some ideas, but try to make your questions more specific to the job this time. This will show that you've continued to do your research in between interviews. For example, you could ask about current projects, what you'd be working on if you get the job, or the company's response to a news story relevant to the industry.

Another option is to ask about the department you'd be joining. You could question the employer about the style of management they use, the team dynamic, or the working culture. By the end of a second interview it would be unusual if salary and start date hadn't been mentioned, so if they haven't it's reasonable to raise them at this point.

Second interview tips

  • Be positive and remember you've already made a good impression.
  • Maintain your professionalism and don't assume you've already got the job.
  • Thank the interviewer for the opportunity to make your case again.
  • Make your responses and your questions as specific and detailed as possible.
  • Try to build a rapport with interviewer throughout the discussion, especially if it's a senior member of staff or your potential line manager.
  • Second interviews sometimes include a tour of the workplace: be friendly and ask questions without distracting potential future colleagues.

Find out more

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