The Do's and Don'ts of the Second Interview
It's gratifying to be called for a second or subsequent interview because you are another step closer to the job. Don't blow it now! Read our second-interview do's and don'ts.
- Do pat yourself on the back for being called for a second interview. While some career
experts say your chances are 1 in 4 to get the job at this point, others say you have
as much as a 50 percent chance. Even with the field narrowing, it's important to distinguish
yourself and ensure that you stand out above your competition.
- Do take a practice run to the location where you are having the interview — or be
sure you know exactly where it is and how long it takes to get there.
- Do remember these three words: More, More, More. Compared to the first interview,
a second interview will likely involve more preparation, more people, more questions,
more intensity, and more pressure — in addition to more likelihood that you will land
- Do prepare —even more than you did for the first interview. Presumably you researched the company before the first interview. Now it's time to delve even deeper into that research.
Some experts suggest that talking with company insiders is one of the most productive
ways to prepare for a second interview. If you are a college student, particularly
seek out alumni from your school or sorority/fraternity who work for the employer.
Also be sure you're up to date on developments in your field or industry by reviewing
- Do try to find out in advance exactly what the agenda will be and with whom you can
expect to interview. If you aren't given this information when the interview is set
up, contact the assistant of the main person with whom you'll be meeting to see what
you can find out.
- Do be up on business dining etiquette if you are asked to dine with representatives of the prospective employer.
- Do get a good night's sleep the night before this potentially grueling day. Also look
for opportunities to refresh yourself during the interview day. If there's a break
in the action, splash some water on your face or take a brisk walk to rejuvenate.
Take along a pocket- or purse-sized snack in case there is no lunch break. Maintain
your energy, confidence, and enthusiasm.
- Do be aware that you might be asked to complete psychometric tests dealing with such
things as skills, intelligence, and personality. There's not a lot you can do to prepare
for them — but that good night's sleep will help.
- Do remember these three words: Fit, Fit, and Fit. A major reason for the second interview
is so the employer can see how well you fit in with the company culture. Realize that
the interviewers at your second interview want to learn how well you will get along
with other team members with whom you'll be interacting every day. Deploy your very
best interpersonal communication skills. But - remember that it's OK not to fit. If
you aren't a good fit with the employer, you probably wouldn't be happy working there
anyway. And remember, that this interview is also your opportunity to determine whether
the company is a good fit for you. Think about whether you would accept if the employer
extended an offer.
- Do expect to be asked some of the same questions you were asked in the first interview,
but some new ones as well. Second-interview questions may delve more into your personality,
or specific technical skills — or both. Keep your responses fresh yet consistent for
each person you meet with, and don't worry about repeating yourself —you will!
- Do expect behavioral questions, which are commonly asked in second interviews, even if they haven't been asked in
the first interview.
- Do listen for clues that get at the heart of what the employer seeks in the person
hired, and key into the needs, concerns, issues, and problems that you would be expected
- Do be prepared with lots of questions to ask. You will likely have more opportunity
to ask questions in the second interview and will be expected to make more sophisticated
inquiries than you did in the first interview.
- Do ask about the next step in the process if you don't receive an offer. How soon
will a decision be made, and how will they let you know?
- Do try to collect the business card of everyone you meet with throughout the second
interview process. Keep a small notepad handy to write down names in case there's
someone from whom you can't get a card.
- Do remember that most of the guidelines that apply to first interviews also relate to second interviews.
- Don't neglect to review your performance from your first interview. Note any questions
or situations that caused you difficulty and plan how you will handle those aspects
better in the second interview. Brainstorm new information you can offer —new accomplishments,
new examples, new evidence of how much you know about the employer.
- Don't be surprised if the second interview is actually a series of interviews—in both
individual and group/panel formats—making for a long day. You may interview with managers,
senior executives, department heads, and prospective team members. You may also get
a tour of the workplace and be taken out to eat. Bring ample copies of your resume
for all of the interviewers you may meet.
- Don't forget the cardinal rule of panel interviews: As you respond to a question,
maintain eye contact with everyone on the panel—not just the panelist who asked the
- Don't slack off with your interview attire. A second interview generally doesn't denote a more casual interview.
- Don't neglect to talk to people beyond those you are interviewing with. Chatting up—not
too excessively—the receptionist and prospective co-workers can give you a better
feel for how much you'd like to be part of this workplace culture, as well as make
a positive impression.
- Don't be shocked if some of the people you meet with aren't very competent interviewers.
While managers trained in interviewing often conduct first interviewers, some of the
people who might talk with you during the second-interview may lack training in how
to conduct an interview.
- Don't be caught off guard if an interviewer raises the subject of salary and benefits.
Be prepared to negotiate. You may also be asked about your willingness to travel and
relocate, so be ready with your responses.
- Don't necessarily give an answer immediately if the employer makes an offer. Ask for
a few days to think about it.
- Don't forget to send a thank-you note or e-mail to everyone you meet with. That's right—every single person. Aren't you glad you collected those business cards? You can write the same basic message to all, but vary it a bit in case they compare notes.