You’ve done it. After reading Prepory’s Guide to a Successful Interview and wowing the interviewers, you’ve been called back for another interview. Congratulations!
However, the hard work is far from over. Second-round interviews are often highly individualized and go into more detail about the company as a whole. Expect to answer more questions and spend more time in the interview room than the first time around. The second interview is the time to prove to employers that you fully understand the company and are excited to move forward with the position. This may mean doing a little more research outside of the company website. Visit the company’s social media, read articles about the company, and privately look at employee’s LinkedIn profile to gain important insight. These small details can help you stand out. In fact, 47% of interviewees said they wouldn’t hire someone who had no knowledge of their company.
One of the best ways to showcase leadership is by showing that you care for your community. Volunteers take time out of their day to help those in need and expect nothing in return. What could be more selfless and kind than that?
If you plan to volunteer this summer, make sure you are working with a cause you care about. Admissions officers will look at the causes you volunteered with and make assumptions about your passions. Make sure they are making the right assumptions. For example, if you have never left the country and don’t really understand foreign politics, it wouldn’t make sense to volunteer at Amnesty International. However, this may be a good fit if you are interested in foreign policy.
Before the Second Interview
Before going to a second-round interview, reflect on your first interview. Think about the way the interview went. Are there any areas for improvement? Did you provide enough details about the work you did? Did you use too many filler words? Did you display open, welcoming body language? Did you maintain positive energy throughout the interview?
Identify a few areas of improvement and think of a few ways to address them before the next interview. Perhaps you used too many filler words the first time around. Spend the next few days avoiding filler words at all to get in the practice of speaking without them. Perhaps you didn’t provide enough details about the scope of your work. Practice speaking about your accomplishments with colleagues who worked with you when you accomplished them. They may help you remember details or help you properly explain exactly what you did. Not to mention, interviewers will notice the difference.
Building Your Network: Making Connections
Interviewers assume you are likely interviewing with other companies as well. Remembering details such as granular information about the company and interviewers’ names will bode well for you. It will show that you genuinely care and are interested in the company.
Second round interviews are sometimes panel interviews. Or, you may be interviewed by one person but have a brief introduction to your potential coworkers. Panel interviews can be intimidating as it feels less like a conversation and more like a group of people assessing your ability to communicate. Instead of focusing on how many people are in the room, focus on each individual person. Look into each interviewer’s eyes and acknowledge them. It can help you focus and keep you from looking at the panel as a group. If you have the opportunity to meet your potential coworkers, you should try to make a small connection with each person. According to an article in The Atlantic, something as simple as remembering someone’s name can establish a bond between you and the other person.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT!
While reflecting is extremely important to the second round interview, you should also be prepared for the 15 most common second round interview questions. Familiarize yourself with these questions and have a short answer prepared for each before walking into your second interview.
What are your career goals?
Interviewers ask this question with a single intention: to find out if you plan to grow in their company or if you will use the position as merely a stepping stone. The latter is not ideal for most companies. Therefore, don’t mention future plans for moving to another city or going back to school. Interviewers want to feel secure that you will spend time maturing in their company and climbing the ranks. They also want to know that your career goals fall in line with the work you’re doing.
For instance, if your long-term career plan is to be an accountant but you’re applying for a Public Relations Assistant position, employers will likely not hire you. Your goals do not align with the position you’re applying for. The best method for answering this question is by stating that you want to achieve executive levels in the industry you are applying to. For example, if you’re applying for a Public Relations Assistant position, you may want to say your career goal is to become the Public Relations Director, specializing in crisis management. Your answer should highlight direction and focus.
Why did you want this position?
This question gauges your true interest in the company and company fit. Obviously, salary and benefits make up a good percentage of why you’re applying for any position. Those details are not what employers are looking for. You should not state that as the reason you want to work at a company. They want to see the passion for the work you will be doing and the company you will work for, especially when the job becomes more difficult. Are you excited about the clients the company serves? Are you excited about the functions of the job? Does the company align with your values or passions? Ensure that your answer is company-specific. Use information about the company you’re applying for to support your answer.
Why should we hire you?
Interviewers are asking you to sell yourself here. Have two or three things in mind that set you apart from the rest. Perhaps you have extensive experience in the expected work. Conversely, maybe you are a novice in your field but are a hard worker who doesn’t mind putting in the extra work to make a difference. This question is likely the only time in the interview where you get to direct the conversation and point to your specific strengths. Use this question wisely. Employers are asking you to prove your worth. Do it intentionally.
Things you can highlight: experience, abilities, unusual skills, or talents that could be useful for the job, passions, personal qualities.
What is your ideal work environment?
This question measures your relative fit. In short, they want you to answer the following:
Do you like working in teams or working alone?
What kind of companies do you like to work in? (Scrappy startup versus big corporate firm)
What is your work style? Are you an organized, linear thinking, and analytical worker? Or, do you prefer controlled messes and short sprints of deeply focused work?
When answering these questions, ensure your answers align with the company’s culture. Again, your research could help inform this answer.
What would you want to accomplish in your first 30 days at this company?
This question is likely the hardest question in the interview. Interviewers want to know that you have thought extensively about the position and its expectations. They want to see that you will bring new, fresh ideas that won’t keep the status quo but change it. You want to prove to them that you not only have ideas to improve the company but you have a plan to get there. Perform an audit of the company. Identify a few weaknesses and create feasible solutions to fix them.
Don’t worry if you’re making assumptions about what can and can’t be done at the company. They aren’t expecting you to fully understand all of the processes that take place within the company. Instead, they are expecting to see your creativity, innovation, and initiative.
What challenges are you lacking in your current job?
Underneath the surface, interviewers are asking one thing: Why are you leaving your current job? Remain diplomatic when answering this question. In other words, don’t mention terrible coworkers or incompetent bosses. Those types of comments reflect poorly on you rather than your previous team. Instead, focus on your future and opportunities. Consider constructing your answer like the following:
“My previous position did not provide room for advancement. While I was appreciative of everything I learned, I wanted more challenges and the opportunity to prove myself in higher ranks.”
“While I liked my last position, I wanted to work for a company with a bigger client base. I am excited to work at a company that has world-renowned clients in the industry all over the world.”
Can you provide an example of a time you worked with a coworker you didn’t get along with?
How you answer this question helps employers identify signs of a bad coworker. It’s likely you won’t like every single person you work with. Employers want to know that you can still be professional and respectful even when you’re working with someone you don’t like. Much like the previous question, be diplomatic in your response. Focus on the positives and don’t take too much time explaining the flaws of a previous coworker. Provide examples of effective conflict resolution. Use examples such as honest open communication, acknowledging your own flaws, and finding compromises. Ensure your answer has a positive response and highlights your empathy and willingness to work through difficult situations.
How do you respond to stressful work environments?
Every company wants employees that can work well under pressure. Stressful situations are unavoidable. It is important that employees know how to deal with them in a calm, collected manner. Start with a general answer about your stress habits and move into a more specific example. With this in mind, you can highlight your strengths in your answer. You may want to say something like:
“When I’m stressed, I become very quiet and hyper-focused. I am usually a very jovial employee. But in stressful moments I am more likely to focus all of my energies on finishing a project. For example, in my last position, my manager asked me to take on a failing project and turn it around in a matter of two months. At first, I wasn’t sure how I could execute such a task. I became a very quiet employee because I was trying to maintain a deep-work focus. I informed my coworkers that I was busy and needed time to work. They were very understanding and gave me the space I requested. Within two months, I improved the project team’s productivity by 53% and saved the company $40,000.”
Is there anything you want to revisit from your first interview?
You should always have an answer to this question. It helps interviewers understand your communication skills and your ability to remember key details. This is why it is pivotal to spend time reflecting on your first interview. Ask clarifying questions informed by your own research and information provided in the first interview. Do not spend time re-answering questions asked in the first interview. It looks unprofessional.
Out of the box questions
Employers may want to see how your brain operates without preparation. It helps them get a real, raw insight on the type of person you are outside of the tried and true interview questions. They may ask you something like:
What three things would you bring on a desert island?
What are some common misconceptions about you?
What is your spirit animal?
Try to be creative in your response while providing some more information about yourself. Many interviews hire off of gut feel alone. Use this answer to help interviewers see your personality; it will help them understand who you are and how you make them feel. Out of all of your answers, this has the potential to be the most memorable.
Follow up emails and thank you emails
Second round interviews are both exciting and nerve-racking. It means you may be nearing the end of the job search process. However, there is an added level of pressure. Don’t get too overwhelmed about the process. Prepare as much as possible, get a good night’s sleep the night before, and be yourself. After your second interview, send a thank you email to the interviewer(s). Use their names and add personalized details from the interview. These details both help them remember who you are and highlight your ability to build meaningful connections with your potential coworkers. While nearing the end of the interview process, you should do everything you can to set yourself apart from the other candidates. Finally, be ready and be confident. The job is in sight!