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15 Second Interview Questions (and an Answer Playbook)

Your second interview will be a little different from your first. Know the differences and how to prepare.

Congratulations! You’ve made it through the first round of interviews and were selected for a second interview. Now what?

When you’re interviewing for a job, the second interview is often the make-or-break point. If you make it to this stage, it means the company is interested in you and wants to learn more about you and your qualifications. That’s great news. But it can also be nerve-wracking.

Never fear. In this article, we’ll go through what to expect, what questions you’re likely to hear, how to answer in a way that will impress your interviewers, and how to (hopefully) seal the deal and get you that job!

What Is a Second Interview?

A second interview is a meeting between a job candidate and an employer, typically conducted after the initial screening interview. The second interview gives both parties the opportunity to ask more in-depth questions and get to know each other better.

For you, the candidate, second interviews are a chance to clarify any questions or concerns you may have about the company and the position.

Ask any new questions that have come to mind since the first interview. It’s also an opportunity for you to show more of your personality and emphasize your value. It’s your time to shine!

The employer will use the second interview to assess how well you would fit into the organization: its culture, structure, and network, as well as confirm whether you have the skills necessary to perform the job.

Second interviews often consist of meeting with multiple interviewers within the organization, including HR personnel, a high-level manager or C-suite executive, as well as the person you interviewed with originally. They may be held as a panel interview, one-on-one, or in a small group.

Panel interviews

A panel interview is when you’re being interviewed by several members of the company at once. They usually sit facing you across a table or in a conference room.

This can feel a little like facing a firing squad, but don’t let your nerves get the better of you! They asked you to the second interview because they liked what they saw in your first interview.

Remember, it’s your time to shine, so shine on!

One-on-one interviews

This one is pretty self-explanatory. You’ll interview with a single person, however, it may or may not be the same person you interviewed with initially. So, be prepared for an entirely different experience and get ready to build a new rapport.

Small group interviews

When you interview in a small group, you’re placed with other potential candidates and you’re all interviewed simultaneously.

Sometimes the interviewers will ask questions or use tactics to see how you would work together with others. Be prepared for unique opportunities to showcase your skills and don’t be afraid to show soft skills like leadership, teamwork, and communication.

How to Prepare For a Second Interview

To prepare for your second interview, it’s important to review the company and position thoroughly and be prepared to discuss your qualifications in more detail.

Prior to your first interview, you should’ve researched the company thoroughly. If you haven’t yet, do so now. You should know everything about the company, from its products and services to its culture, values, and mission statement.

Don’t be surprised if your second interview includes a meal. Many second interviews are conducted over lunch or dinner. If this is the case, be sure to brush up on your business dining etiquette.

Ask about the agenda for the interview. Many times you’ll be provided with the agenda for the interview so you can prepare and know what to expect, at least in general. This can be immensely helpful both in preparation and in calming your nerves.

Be prepared to be asked about your willingness to travel and/or relocate. Consider these possibilities before your interview and be ready with your answers.

Review any notes from your first interview and be ready to answer some of the same questions you were asked the first time around.

Be consistent with your answers and, if appropriate, expand on your answers from the first interview. Maintain the same enthusiasm and energy throughout the interview process. You want to make it clear that you want this job.

Try to remember questions or topics the interviewer mentioned from the first interview that were left unanswered or unaddressed because you ran out of time.

Bring those up in the second interview. Doing so will illustrate an excellent memory, attention to detail, and a sense of integrity by wanting to address all of your interviewer’s concerns.

Be ready for new questions too. Some will be straightforward questions about your qualifications and interest in the role. But many second interview questions are tougher and behavioral in nature. They focus on challenging or problematic situations and how you would respond to them.

What Are Some Typical Second Interview Questions?

Here are some of the most common second interview questions:

  1. Why are you interested in this position?
  2. What do you know about our company, and why are you interested in working here?
  3. What skills and experiences do you bring to the role, and how would they enable you to be successful in this position?
  4. Can you give me an example of a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer or client?
  5. Can you tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond to get the job done?
  6. What do you think are the most important qualities for success in this role?
  7. What do you think are the most important qualities for success in this company?
  8. What challenges do you think this role will present, and how would you deal with them?
  9. Can you tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult situation at work?
  10. Can you give me an example of a time when you had to take on a leadership role?
  11. What project or accomplishment are you the proudest of and why?
  12. What would you want to tackle in your first 30 days on the job?
  13. What is your leadership style?
  14. What are your hopes for your career in the future?
  15. What is the greatest lesson you learned in your last role?

Second interview questions like these will give the employer a better sense of who you are, what motivates you, and how you would handle the challenges of the job.

There is a strategy you can use to answer these questions which will stack the cards in your favor. This strategy is called the STAR method.

Answering Second Interview Questions Using the STAR Method

STAR is an acronym for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. The STAR method of answering interview questions allows you to use storytelling techniques to inform the interviewer of your skills and experience in the context of a situation. It is the best way to highlight why you are the perfect fit for the role for which you are interviewing.

Here’s an example of how you might use the STAR method to answer the question, “Can you give me an example of a time when you had to take on a leadership role?”:

Situation: When I was working as a sales associate at my previous job, we were short-staffed one busy weekend, and I ended up having to take on some leadership responsibilities while my manager was away.

Task: After assessing the situation, I realized that even though we were short-staffed, we still needed to meet our customer’s needs and hit our KPIs.

Action: I stepped up and took charge, delegating tasks to my team members and streamlining our processes for maximum efficiency.

Result: In the end, we were able to successfully serve all of our customers and meet our sales goals for the weekend despite being short-staffed.

The STAR method helps keep your interview answers brief and concise. You won’t waste a lot of time rambling and including unimportant details in your answer and the hiring manager will be able to immediately recognize your skills and strengths.

Sealing the Deal in Your Second Interview

You’re almost there. The interview is almost done. By preparing for common second interview questions, you’ve proved to the employer that you have the skills and qualities they are looking for in a successful candidate.

By answering second interview questions using the STAR method, you’ve effectively given examples of your work experience and accomplishments. Now’s the time to really seal the deal.

Be prepared for a job offer – sometimes job offers happen during the second interview. Don’t be surprised by this, be prepared.

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Don’t accept immediately – ask for a few days to consider the offer. This is typical and will not be a surprise to the interviewer, nor will it be taken as an insult.

(We have a Negotiation Course inside Big Interview to help you negotiate for the salary you deserve. Click here to find out more.)

If you don’t receive an offer during the interview, no worries – it’s simply on to the next steps, which include the following:

  1. Thank the interviewer for their time and reiterate your interest in the position.
  2. Summarize why you believe you are the best candidate for the job.
  3. Ask about the next steps in the hiring process and express your eagerness to move forward.
  4. Send a thank you note or email the following day.

Sending a thank-you note or email after your second interview is a courteous way to show your appreciation for the opportunity and reaffirm your interest in the position.

In your thank-you note, you can reiterate your qualifications for the job and highlight why you believe you would be a great fit for the company.

A well-written thank-you email can help you stand out from other candidates and improve your chances of getting the job.

Good luck with your second interview!

Further Reading:

Ultimate Interviewing Guides
Behavioral Interview Questions
The 10 Most Common Interview Questions and Answers
How To Answer Conflict Interview Questions

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