Second interviews: What you need to know

Great news: you’ve been invited to a second interview…

Whether this fills you with fear, excitement, or confidence (or a combination of all three) – you’re probably wondering what it will involve and how you should prepare. And although many aspects will emulate a first interview, there’s likely to be some key differences.

We’ve already covered second interview questions and answers, but here’s everything you need to know about second interviews:


What is a second interview?

A second interview is a way for employers to find out more about you following your initial interview.

It also helps an employer to compare candidates more closely – as the amount of interviewees is usually reduced.

Although not all employers use second interviews, they are usually standard for more competitive roles.


What’s the difference between a first and second interview?

A first interview is all about testing your personality and basic skills.

An employer uses it to see whether you match up to your CV and cover letter – and it will often involve a general overview of both what the role involves and how your capabilities fit.

A second interview may focus on this as well – but will place more of an emphasis on what separates you from other candidates.

Whether it’s through asking more specific questions, elaborating on aspects that were covered in your first interview, or covering salary expectations.


What should I expect in a second interview?

If your first round was particularly in-depth, you might even be wondering what’s left to cover; but you’d be surprised at how much the employer still doesn’t know.

To make sure you know what to expect, here are a few things that are usually covered in a second interview:

  • More questions. With many interviews carried out in a short space of time, there’s a good chance that the employer (and you) didn’t get all the information you needed in round one. A second interview is not only the perfect time for the employer to ask any questions they may have missed off – it’s also an opportunity for you to ask anything that’s on your mind.
  • Proof of your most relevant skills. Although you’ve probably talked about your basic skills and abilities, this stage is all about getting more specific – so be prepared to elaborate. This may involve tests, quizzes, or technical questions.
  • A salary discussion. If a recruitment process has more than one stage, the latter is usually the best time for salary chats. Make sure you’ve done your research to ensure what you’re asking for a reasonable amount, and be prepared to make the first move.
  • A tour of the workplace. You may have proved you’re a good fit in terms of your skills and experience. Now, the employer wants to see if you fit in culturally. This might involve meeting more members of the team and looking around the workplace. Be friendly and polite, and use this opportunity to work out if it’s the kind of atmosphere you could work in.
  • A different interview type. Second interviews often follow a different format than your first one. This means that if you originally had a group interview, this one might be one-on-one. Or if you met one-on-one last time, this could be where they bring more people in for a second/third opinion (que: the panel interview).
  • Tying up loose ends. A second interview is also a good opportunity for employers to find out the logistics of hiring you (e.g. your potential start date).Come armed with your availability (along with any other requirements/details), and you’re likely to move forward faster.


How to prepare for a second interview

Although preparing for a second interview will be similar to your first – there are a few more things you should consider.

Here are a few tips on how to prepare for a second interview:

  • Do your research. If you’re not meeting with the same people, look the new ones up to give you an idea of what to expect. It’s also a good idea to see what kind of experiences others in your situation have had.
  • Be consistent. Your first interview obviously went well; now all you have to do is keep it up. Aside from focusing on the key strengths that made you stand out in the initial meeting, it’s also key to establish a good rapport.
  • Prepare questions. In round two, the questions you ask the employer are extra important. Use what you already know, and the time between the first and second interview to think of original questions that show your genuine interest in the role.

How to prepare for an interview


What questions will I be asked in a second interview?

Although there aren’t any set rules for what should be asked at a second interview – there are some questions that are more likely to come up than others.

Aside from questions involving start dates and notice periods, you might also notice the employer asks about your long term career goals. After all, if they’re seriously considering hiring you (which they could well be at this stage), they want to know you’re in it for the long haul.

You’ll also be tested further on your ability to do the job and how your skills and abilities translate into the perfect candidate.

Want to find out what else they could ask? Read more second interview questions (and our tips on how to answer them)

Common interview questions


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