Congratulations! You passed the initial phone screening, and now you’ve been invited for a second-round interview. The stakes have just gone up, and you’re starting to panic.
Take a deep breath, my dear job seeker. As daunting as it seems, most second-round job interviews are usually pretty straightforward, though certainly more in-depth than a phone screening. There are a few things you can undoubtedly expect and some tried-and-true strategies to ensure you’re successful. Keep reading to learn simple methods for acing your second interview.
Preparing for a Second-Round Job Interview
Like anything in life, the more prepared you are, the greater your chances of success. There are three categories to consider when preparing for a second-round interview:
1. Clarify Expectations: Before you do anything, take a few minutes to ask some simple questions regarding what to expect in this next step. Try to keep these handy during your phone screening, just in case you’re invited to the second interview right then. Of course, if you don’t have that opportunity, you can also email these questions to your contact.
Most importantly, find out who will be in the interview—will it be one person or a group? What are the names and titles of the individuals you will be meeting with? Once you have this information, you can research them on LinkedIn and familiarize yourself with their background. This will help you build rapport and ask more individualized questions.
You may also want to ask how long you should expect to spend there, and if there’s anything specific they’d like you to prepare or bring with you. This opens the door for them to share a bit about the process. For example, they may explain that you’ll need extra time to complete a personality assessment or, if all goes well, you’ll be expected to come back and give a presentation of some sort in the future. The specifics can vary from company to company so it’s worthwhile to inquire a bit and see what they share.
2. Company Research: Your interviewer will want to know why you’re interested not only in the job itself, but in the organization as a whole. You need to demonstrate that you clearly understand (A) what the company does, (B) how they do it, and (C) where they’re headed in the future. Admittedly, from the outside, you can’t always get a totally clear answer on these things, but you want to show that you’ve made a strong effort to investigate.
Read the company website, review their LinkedIn profile and other social media accounts, check out press releases and articles published online, and even reach out to people in your network who have worked for or with the company in the past. The more information you have, the better equipped you’ll be to have a real conversation about why this company is a match for you and vice versa.
3. Review Your Accomplishments List: I consider a phone screening to be a general “sanity check.” The goal is usually just to verify that the resume is accurate and that you have some basic professional communication skills. A second-round interview, on the other hand, gets more into the details of your professional experience and qualifications. So, prepare to speak about your accomplishments in detail. Take some time to refresh your memory if needed and even practice telling various stories to friends and loved ones. The more you have these things top of mind, the better off you’ll be.
How to Be Successful During a Second-Round Interview
Generally speaking, interviewers at this stage are looking for two things: competence and character.
Competence is all about your ability to do the job as proven through our past experience. Speaking articulately and confidently about your accomplishments will demonstrate this. Make sure you can tie each accomplishment back to specific skills needed in the job you’re applying for.
Character is all about who you are, your personality and how well you’re likely to fit in with the existing team and company culture. How you present yourself, both verbally and non-verbally, will help demonstrate this. Yes, you want to be authentically yourself, but focus on being the best version of you—the one who is well dressed, punctual, energetic, friendly and curious.
Remember that a second interview is just a conversation. It’s an opportunity to expand further on what was shared in the first conversation. It’s a chance to ask questions, learn more about the needs of the organization and discuss how your skills might be useful in helping them meet their goals. It’s also your opportunity to get a “vibe” for the people and organization—something you can’t usually pick up on so easily over the phone.
Finally, recognize that a second-round job interview may involve a conversation about salary requirements so be prepared to discuss that if and when it arises.
While it may be a little nerve-wracking, there’s little to fear in a second-round interview. With some thoughtful preparation, you’ll be hashing out the details of the job offer in no time.