15 Second-interview Questions and How to Answer Them

You’ve done it. After reading Prepory’s Guide to a Successful Interview and wowing the interviewers, you’ve been called back for a follow-up interview. Now you’re likely wondering what questions are asked in a second interview? Are there sample second-round interview questions I can review while I prepare? And lastly, what are some key strategies for answering common second interview questions?

As I’m sure you are aware, the hard work is far from over. The most common 2nd-round interview questions 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 you did in your initial interview. 

Preparing for your 2nd interview

It’s important to review the company’s goals, the job description, interview tips, and common second interview questions to increase your chances of completing a successful interview and getting a job offer. This will help you feel mentally prepared and allow you to feel more confident during the interview.

In this article, we will review tips for how to answer tough second interview questions, including behavioral interview questions, and improve your interview skills. Read on to gain valuable insight into the common second round of interview questions and what companies are looking for in your responses. 

Before you start thinking about your second interview, it’s important to reflect on your first-round interview and conduct further research on the company. Below are three key steps to help you prepare:

Reflect

Before going to a second-round job interview, reflect on your first job interview. Think about the way the interview went. Are there any areas for improvement? Did you provide enough details about your resume and your previous work experience? 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.

what is rolling admission

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 example answers. Have a short answer prepared for each before walking into your second interview.

15 most common 2nd interview questions & how to answer them successfully

The second interview is the time to prove to employers that you fully understand the company, company culture, 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 employees’ LinkedIn profiles to gain important insight. These small details can help you stand out. 47% of interviewees said they wouldn’t hire someone who had no knowledge of their company.

In this article, we will review key strategies for completing a successful follow-up interview. We will also provide a list of killer second interview questions and answers for you to review.

01

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, especially if you are looking for a short-term position. Therefore, don’t mention plans for moving to another city or going back to school. 

Tips for your response

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. 

The best method for answering this question is by stating that you want to achieve executive levels in the industry to which you are applying. Your answer should highlight direction and focus.

Sample response

“I want to continue to grow within the technology industry. By the end of this year, I want to be certified in Adobe Creative Suite, Python, and R programming languages. In the next five years, I want to take on a management role and manage larger projects that develop websites, applications, and user interfaces for clients.”

02

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. 

Tips for your response

Companies 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.

Sample response

"I want to work here because I admire your firm’s work and adaptability. I spent time looking through your current client list and found clients across multiple industries. I also looked at the social media accounts you managed and I was impressed with your ability to create a distinct voice for each client. I am about the prospect of learning the creative process that determines a client’s voice and brand aesthetic.”

03

Why should we hire you?

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. Why are you the best candidate?

Tips for your response

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. 

Things you can highlight: experience, abilities, unusual skill set, or talents that could be useful for the job, passions, and personal qualities.

Sample response

"I have years of experience in the event planning industry. I would be eager to pass down my knowledge and experience to a young team of event planners. I believe my many leadership development opportunities have prepared me to lead this team in a supportive and collaborative manner."

04

What is your ideal work environment?

This question measures your relative fit. In short, they want you to answer the following:

  1. Do you like working in teams or working alone?
  2. What kind of companies do you like to work in? (Scrappy startup or big corporate firm)
  3. 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?

Tips for your response

When answering these questions, ensure your answers align with the company’s culture. Your research about the company could help inform this answer. Be sure to also mention your teamwork abilities and management style.

Sample response

"I thrive in environments that value collaboration and honesty. I firmly believe that diversity of thought and experience makes for a better environment. But I also think it is important to remain honest to ensure collaboration does not lead to echo chambers or groupthink. From your website, it seems like you value those concepts as well; I would be excited to work with a company that upholds my values."

05

What would you want to accomplish in your first 30 days at this company?

This question is likely the hardest 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. 

Tips for your response

You want to prove to the company that you not only have ideas to improve the company but you have a plan to get there. This is especially important for a panel interview. Perform an audit of the company beforehand. 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.

Sample response

"Within the first 30 days at this company, I hope to formalize the sales process; I remember you all mentioning that was a pain point within the company. I plan to begin by getting a pulse on individual sales team members’ processes. Using that qualitative information, I will work on a plan that serves all team members. I will also consult with a few sales applications and platforms to find the best way to optimize our sales process. I also hope to help set a precedent of open communication channels by implementing biweekly meetings where team members inform the team of their work."

06

What challenges are you lacking in your current job?

Underneath the surface, interviewers are asking one thing: Why are you leaving your current job? If possible, incorporate details about why do you want to work for this company. This is a good question to prepare for.

Tips for your response

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.

Sample response

"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."

07

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. 

Tips for your response

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 flaws, and finding compromises. Ensure your answer has a positive response and highlights your empathy and willingness to work through difficult situations.

Sample response

“In my last position, my boss partnered my coworker Sarah and me together to work on a project. We often disagreed on how much time and detail we needed to devote to aspects of the project. I realized Sarah had a different approach than I did so I allocated time for us to sit down with one another and get to the heart of our differences. Once I understood our strengths and weaknesses, we were able to allocate our time. We collaborated and assigned tasks based on our strengths.”

08

How do you respond to stressful work environments?

Every company wants employees that can work well under pressure. Stressful situations are unavoidable. Employees must know how to deal with them in a calm, collected manner. 

Tips for your response

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. 

Sample response

“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.”

09

Tell me about a time you demonstrated leadership skills

Companies want to hire employees who can take initiative and have confidence in their ideas. They also want to hire team players. This is a great question to practice beforehand.

Tips for your response

Use a specific anecdote if possible. Avoid generalizations and vague statements. This is your opportunity to share a meaningful experience with your potential employer. Do your best to demonstrate your leadership style. Why is leadership important? When and why are you willing to rise to the challenge?

Sample response

“During my last job, I demonstrated consistent leadership abilities by training new hires. Due to my friendly, outgoing personality, I find that I am well-suited for welcoming new employees to a company. I am approachable and eager to answer questions and help foster a positive work environment. I have strong interpersonal communication skills and am passionate about maintaining healthy company culture.”

10

What is your decision-making process?

This question will help employers gain insight into your abilities to analyze and prioritize. Time management and organizational skills are key job skills necessary in the day-to-day operations of any successful company. Employers want to know that you will be consistently able to make sound judgment calls during the workday.

Tips for your response

This is your chance to show off your time management, organizational, and communication skills. Be thorough in your response. Clearly outline your decision-making process and avoid general statements. Demonstrate your ability to work independently with confidence.

Sample response

“In my previous position, I often had to make decisions about the company’s marketing budget. Each time I was presented with a new marketing opportunity, I made sure to do my research and crunch some numbers. It’s important to have a full understanding of the marketing potential of each opportunity in relation to its return on investment. During my decision-making process, I often make charts and graphs, as well as discuss pros and cons with my coworkers and managers.”

11

Tell me about a time you made a mistake and how you corrected it

Employers want to see how you react during a stressful situation and whether you can take responsibility for your actions. This question will also help hiring managers gain insight into some of your key strengths and weaknesses as well as your problem-solving skills during your second job interview.

Tips for your response

Hopefully, you haven’t made a significant mistake in your career. If you have, remember, you are still trying to impress the company. Instead, focus on something small where you were able to successfully remedy your mistake. By nature, this is not a flattering question. It is important, however, to provide a balanced response where you both take responsibility for an error in judgment but also show how you are able to work hard to correct your mistake.

Sample response

“At my former company, my team accidentally sent out an incorrect order to one of our accounts. It was a bit of a logistical nightmare, but we worked hard to correct our mistakes promptly while providing clear, consistent communication. It’s important to prioritize delivering exceptional customer service and maintaining positive relationships with our accounts. Due to this, with management permission, we offered our account a modest discount.”

12

Is there anything you want to revisit from your previous 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.

Tips for your response

Ask clarifying questions informed by your research and the information provided in the first interview. Do not spend time re-answering questions asked in the first interview. It looks unprofessional.

Sample response

“In the first interview, we touched on the types of clients you typically serve. However, afterward, I did some research and found a few companies that fell out of your “typical” client list. How did those relationships develop and how do these accounts differ from your regular account?”

13

What are some common misconceptions about you?

This question helps hiring teams understand your impression on others. Be sure to redeem yourself by describing your true, good nature and why people may misperceive you.

Tips for your response

Be mindful when answering this question. Word choice is very important. You want to avoid negatively charged words like stand-offish, rude, mean, and cold. These could be seen as red flags.

Sample response

"People often think I am quiet because I usually take some time before opening up. The time I spend observing people allows me to understand who they are and what’s important to them. I like to have context about people so I can better interact with them. After I know you, I am very extroverted."

14

What is your spirit animal?

This is a fun, creative version of the question: tell me about yourself. Try to be creative in your response while providing some more information about yourself. Many interviews hire off of gut feel alone.

Tips for your response

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.

Sample response

"I am a seal because I am loyal and travel with a small group of people. Seals are known for being quieter when they’re on land but are more comfortable when they feel confident in a situation. I think this explains me: cautious yet excited."

15

What three things would you take on a desert island?

The open-endedness of this question helps interviewers understand what kind of person you are.

Tips for your response

Do you simply focus on practicality (rope, water, boat, lighters, etc.) or do you focus on the possibilities of limitless opportunities to learn and grow (books, art supplies, workout gear, etc.)? This also helps them understand what matters to you. In a dire situation, what do you bring to keep yourself happy? In other words, what makes you happy?

Sample response

"I would take unlimited water bottles, Harry Potter, and rope. Harry Potter was my book growing up; I would love to spend time rereading those books to bring me back to a simpler time. I would also bring rope so I could teach myself some knots and ways to use the land around me to make shelter and tools."

Key takeaways about the follow-up interview questions

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 by reviewing the list of questions in this article, get a good night’s sleep the night before, and be yourself.

After your second interview, send a thank-you email or thank-you note to the hiring manager or 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!

FAQs

Still have questions and concerns? Read on for some frequently asked questions and their responses. 

There are several steps you should take when preparing for a second interview. Reflect on your first interview. How were you successful? How could you improve? Research the company. Have a list of thoughtful, company-specific questions you can ask at the end of your interview. Review common second interview questions and tips for how to answer them as a template for yourself.

This depends on the specific position and company, but generally, a second interview means that you are qualified for the position. During a second interview, the company’s job recruiter will revisit and review key job candidates. This is common during the hiring process. This is your opportunity to impress your interviewers and make a lasting impression so that you can stand out from other applicants who also received a second interview.

The fact that you got a second interview is a good sign but you should still spend plenty of time preparing and practicing. In some ways, a second interview may feel more manageable because you know a bit more about what to expect. The questions, however, will be more specific and personalized. You will also be expected to provide more thorough responses. 

This is largely dependent on who is interviewing you. Everyone has a different interviewing style. Typically, though, you should expect it to be longer and more thorough than your initial interview. Prepare for your interview by reviewing common second interview questions. Then practice your responses.

Be sure to ask thoughtful, company-specific questions. It’s important to demonstrate that you are invested in the company by remembering key details about the position and company. This will help further personalize your interview and help assure the people interviewing you that you are passionate about the position and not just going through the motions of an interview. You should also review salary expectations and additional steps needed before reaching a hiring decision. These are important questions for all job seekers to ask.

Contact a Prepory college admissions coach and start your college admissions journey.

Our college admissions experts are here to guide you from where you are to where you should be. Through our comprehensive curriculum, individualized coaching, and online workshops, you are set for success as soon as you connect with us.

During our initial consultation, we will: 

  • Assess your student’s applicant profile and higher education goals 
  • Provide detailed information about our services and programming
  • Share tips on how to navigate the U.S. college admissions process 

Let's get started!


Subscribe to our blog!

Copyright © 2022 Prepory Coaching Group LLC. All Rights Reserved.