The Do's and Don'ts of the Second Interview
First, congratulations on making it beyond the first-round 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% chance. Even with the field narrowing, it's important to distinguish yourself and ensure that you stand out above your competition. Here are some things to do and avoid to be successful in your second or final interview:
- 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 the job.
- Do research— 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 trade publications.
- 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 person you've been in communication with to request further details.
- 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 up on business dining etiquette if you are asked to eat with representatives of the prospective employer.
- 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, other than a good night of sleep.
- 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 to handle.
- 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.
- 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 slack off with your interview attire. A second interview generally doesn't denote a more casual interview.
- Don't be caught off guard if an interviewer raises the subject of salary and benefits. You may also be asked about your willingness to travel and relocate, so be ready with your responses. Make sure to defer salary negotiations until an offer is extended. Avoid giving an answer immediately if the employer makes an offer. Ask for a few days to think about it.
- 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 surprised if you're interviewing with multiple people in the room. As you respond to a question, maintain eye contact with everyone on the panel or in the room—not just the perosn who asked the question.
- 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.
- 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 forget to take notes between or right after the interview. You'll want to use this to evaluate how the interviews went, determine if you are interested in the job/company, and to write thank-you notes.
- 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/emails? You can write the same basic message to all, but try to include something personal that you discussed with that person.