An Asian woman meets with the hiring manager for a second interview

Called Back for a Second Interview?

Second interviews can take many different forms, but there are a few things you can count on. You will likely be speaking with the hiring manager, either one-on-one, as part of a panel interview, or part of a series of interviews.

Many initial interviews are conducted on the phone with a recruiter, so this could be the first time you speak directly with the person who will ultimately decide if you get the job and who might become your boss. A second interview might also involve meeting with other team members, your future boss’s boss, or even your second conversation with the hiring manager.

 

How you do in the second interview is often what the hiring manager will base their final hiring decision on, so if there was ever a time to shine, it would be now. What is the best way to make sure you dazzle your future employer?

Be prepared.

Reflect on what you learned from your first interview to help you prep for your second.

Consider what caught your first interviewer’s attention. Was there a specific skill or experience they were especially keen to learn more about? Highlight what makes you the best hiring choice. Generate examples of how you navigated challenging work scenarios in the past and what projects or accomplishments you are proudest of that are relevant to this new role.

Next, review what you learned about the upcoming goals or the vision of the team or company. Do your research on the company and the problems they are working to solve. Will your experience make you uniquely equipped to be their next hire? If so, make sure you bring that to their attention.

Once you have some good examples and ideas lined up, the next step is to find someone to help you practice answering sample questions aloud. Preparing and practicing ahead of time will make you feel much more comfortable and confident when you are face to face with the interviewer.

5 commonly asked questions in a second interview

  1. What Would You Hope to Accomplish in the First Few Months?

The interviewer is trying to find out which candidate will hit the ground running. This question is intimidating, but also a truly excellent opportunity to show off all your research on the role and company. That said, you obviously do not know everything about the job, so your interviewer will also be interested in how you will approach the gaps in your knowledge.

Give the interviewer a sense of how you plan to learn about and act upon issues they are facing. Show what you already know about the role, how you would learn the rest including questions, and how you would contribute to the end goal. 

  1. How Would You Deal with Challenges, i.e., New Initiative or other Information the Team Is Currently Tackling?

This is an important question. The hiring manager is trying to envision you in the role and how you might help them. Go into detail on how you would tackle their immediate challenges. Do yourself a favor and answer as comprehensively as possible. Answering something like this poorly can be a dealbreaker.

It can be tricky to answer a question about a new initiative or a challenge at a new company. Rather than diving into hypotheticals, you would be much better off talking about your own experience with a similar situation. Start your response off by connecting what their company is going through with something you worked on in the past and then focus on what you did and your takeaways from that experience. 

  1. What Management Style Works Best for You?

Aside from using the second interview to see if you are a fit for the job, the hiring manager is going to want to make sure you would work well with the existing team. This question is an attempt to understand what kind of manager or boss suits you best and whether your preferences match up with their work style or the work style of your manager.

Be honest about what type of boss works best for you. You do not want to work somewhere where you will not thrive. Questions like this might seem like they are begging for answers filled with platitudes and buzzwords like “lead by example” and “team player,” and it is fine to include them, but make sure you take it one step further and give an example of a management style that works well for you. Example: “I work best with a manager who trusts me to work independently, knowing that I will always keep the manager up-to-date on the project and that I am willing to check in as needed.”

  1. Tell Me About a Time You Disagreed with a Colleague.

All these “Tell me about a time when…” questions require stories. As a hiring manager, it is incredibly unsatisfying to interview someone who has no stories to share their experience and accomplishments.

How do you find the right stories to share? Go through the job description and highlight all the soft skills that are featured. You will likely find things like “ability to work on a team, “work independently,” “comfortable with multitasking,” or “strong communication skills”. Then, come up with an example of a time you demonstrated each of these traits—though keep in mind that you do not necessarily need a different example for each one. In fact, it is better to come up with stories that are flexible, since you will likely have to adapt them to the exact question.

Think of why the interviewer is asking this question. Take a few seconds before you start answering the question—even if you have the perfect story prepared—so that you can make an appropriate introductory statement about essentially what the moral of your story is going to be.

The reason for this is that even though the interviewer is specifically asking you to tell a story, the idea is that he or she will learn something about the way you do things.

To make sure your stories are as effective as possible, make a statement before you start telling the story. It might be something like this: “I learned early on in my professional career that it is fine to disagree if you can back it up with data.” When you tell your story, it is not about the various ways you could have approached the situation better, but about how you learned from that experience and how you use it to inform future disagreements.

The final piece of the puzzle is wrapping up your answers well. Connect the story back to the company or position. quickly explaining how your experience would be useful in this position.  

  1. Is There Anything from Your Earlier Interview(s) That You Would Like to Discuss?

Interviews are, in theory, a continuing conversation between two parties. The hiring manager is not just evaluating your skills, you are also scoping out the company. This question is a way to continue the conversation from your first interview and is actually a nice gesture from the interviewer by giving you a chance to lead the conversation.

It can be very tempting to just say, “Nope!” and call it a day. After all, interviews are generally stressful. I would encourage you to resist cutting your interview short and really consider if there was anything you could have answered more comprehensively or something that you forgot to mention entirely. This is one of those questions where you can really make it anything you want it to be. If you could say anything to the hiring manager, what would you say? This is another chance to make your case—or a second chance to say what you meant to say the first time around.

 

Remember when you were preparing for this interview and you came up with a few good stories that represented your work experience and skills? If you have not already talked about all of them, semi-open questions like this one or “Is there anything else you would like me to know?” are golden opportunities to share the stories you have not yet shared.

What to Do After the Interview

Let us assume you knocked that second interview out of the park thanks to all the prep work you did. Don’t blow it now by forgetting this important final step: writing a thank you note.

The thank you note is likely the last bit of communication you have with the hiring manager before a decision is made about who to hire or who to move to the final stages of the process. It can be tempting to just dash off a quick email or go the opposite direction and write a novel rehashing all the ways you are qualified for the job. Instead, try to strike a happy medium and write a note—an email is fine—that thanks them for their time, highlights the parts of the conversation you especially enjoyed, and concludes with how what you learned makes you even more enthusiastic about the opportunity.

Okay! Time to knock it out of the park!

 

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