The Second Interview 101: Everything You Need to Know

Jolene Pilgrim
14 Nov 2017

In an ideal world, candidates for open positions would submit an application, receive an interview request, show up and impress the hiring manager and immediately receive a job offer.  In reality, the chances of this happening are about as likely as a one-eyed, one-toed, flying purple people eater showing up on your doorstep this evening.

The real world of applying for career-making positions will include plenty of rejection, numerous screenings and, most likely, more than one interview before you’re finally given a job offer (contingent on references and a background check, of course, but that’s a topic for another blog post).  For many candidates, it’s that second interview when the nerves and uncertainty really start to kick in.  “How many candidates are they calling back?”  “Does a second interview mean they love you or have questions about your capabilities?”  “Do I need to run out and buy a second suit jacket?”

In order to help calm the nerves and answer these questions and others like them, we’ve prepared this handy second edition of our interview education series.  Sit back and relax, we’re about to give you a crash course in “The Second Interview 101: Everything You Need to Know.”

Review Your First Interview

You know how we usually advise not to hem, haw and overanalyze your first interview after the fact?  Well if you’re lucky enough to score a second go-round on the job applying roller coaster you can throw that advice square out the window.  

Before heading into the interview room again, review your notes (we hope you took notes) from the first meeting.  Pay special attention to names, details and important aspects of the job description, company goals and any particular problem or tricky areas of the field or position the hiring manager may have identified during your chat.  

The ability to reference these or provide solutions after you’ve had a chance to ponder can show your willingness to contribute and your ability to be a team player.  If you were able to identify core values of the company, be sure to be a model role model on those points.  Learning from interview one is a critical skill to a dynamic employee and will score you big points towards getting a job offer.

Keep on Researching

Just because you did your researching diligence for the first round interview doesn’t mean you’re in the clear to rest on your laurels this time around.  Successful candidates know they should continue to perform basic internet searches for the most recent news and events regarding their prospective employers in addition to picking up nuanced details they may have missed in their initial dives.

On top of company research, a new round of interviews will likely mean additional interviewers.  Conducting your due diligence on the careers, background, and education of each person you’ll be meeting with could give you critical details that will help you make connections and appear knowledgeable and approachable.  Take a few moments to scope out each person’s LinkedIn page, paying specific attention to any articles, shares or likes they choose to make public.  You shouldn’t “add” them to your network at this point, but knowing how they approach certain industry topics could prove useful come interview day.

It’s Time to Talk Money (Maybe)

Another piece of oft-given advice you should consider throwing out for your second round interview is the avoidance of discussion of salary or compensation.  In the first round, talking dollars and cents can often be off-putting and is generally premature.  The second round, however, is an entirely other ball of wax.  If (and it’s highly likely when) the hiring manager asks the critical question regarding salary range, you’ll need to be prepared.

Prior to your second round interview, do your research when it comes to average salaries in your field.  Handy tools, such as Simply Hired’s salary calculator, can help provide insight into what other professionals in your field are making.  Compare this information with your current salary and try to anticipate a reasonable and fair offer that would both meet your needs and won’t break the bank of your prospective employer.  

Another area of salary talk that may be appropriate at this stage involves the all-important benefits package.  If the time seems right, feel free to ask about items such as health care, yearly performance bonuses and retirement savings.  With the attention these topics are increasingly garnering in the media and in government, employers are less likely to react with surprise when candidates bring them up during advanced rounds of interviews.

The bottom line when it comes to salary is to avoid lowballing yourself into a less than acceptable financial decision.  We’ve discussed before that it may make sense (and cents) to accept a salary cut in certain situations, but that should definitely not be your default approach.  Do your research and know your value based on experience, education and comparable remuneration across the field in order to make the most educated moves at this stage in the interview game.

Even More Questions

We’ve discussed at length the importance of having insightful and relevant questions to ask when the tables are inevitably turned during your interview.  This is doubly true when it comes to callbacks and second round goes.  Preparing a mental list of questions to ask each interviewer is a critical element to making a great impression and to keeping the dialog flowing during your conversation.

One of the benefits candidates will have in the second round is the ability to bring the information they picked up during their first interview into play.  Avoid generalized questions of the company representatives that you may have asked, and had answered, during preliminary stages.  In the second round interview, delve further into details such as training, roll out and what you can expect during your first few days on the job.  Not only will you appear on top of things, these types of target queries will go a long way towards helping interviewers picture you as a contributing member of the team in the given position.

As a final question, consider asking about next steps in the hiring process.  This will provide you with peace of mind and will let your prospective employer know that you’re eager and interested to start in your new role.

Be Confident

Sure, this is a quality piece of advice for candidates, regardless of where they may be at in the hiring process.  The second round of interviews, however, gives job-seekers an extra boost in the props department.  Out of hundreds of applications and dozen of interviews, you managed to land on the top of the would-be employee stack.  Feel proud and accomplished about your call back and use that energy to come off as cool, calm and collected when you’re sitting across the table from your interviewer.  

Doing your research, reading blogs (like this one), looking up salary information and potential questions, and generally preparing for your interview will be the final cherry on top of your career-making sundae.  Congrats on your second interview.  Now go out and close the deal like a pro!

Article Updated from the Original on November 14, 2017

Jolene Pilgrim