How to prepare for a second interview

How to prepare for a second interview

There is a great deal of noise on LinkedIn on how to prepare for interviews at the moment. This is a well covered subject (please do read our interview guide for our advice), but the first interview is only the first step. What happens once you’re past the first hurdle and it is the second interview you need to prepare for? In this blog post we wanted to focus on how to cope with multiple rounds of interviews.

What to expect?

Congratulations, you have successfully passed the first interview, and you are now one of a smaller pool of candidates. You can take confidence from the fact that the firm regards you as a good candidate for the position. Now is the time to focus on what you can bring to the role, and what differentiates you from the other candidates.

A second interview can mean any number of things:

  1. Meeting the hiring manager a second time
  2. Meeting more members of the team, and a broader panel
  3. Meeting senior executives
  4. Presenting a business plan or a sales pitch
  5. Tests – psychometric, skills based, numerical/literacy, etc.

Whichever process the firm is following, you can expect the second (and third) interview to drill down in detail and follow a more rigorous format. This is especially true if you are meeting the same person twice, but either way the firm is now looking at a reduced shortlist and will be scrutinising the candidates’ work history, skills and aspirations in order to move towards their final decision. The key thing is to get an idea of what, and who, you are facing. Your recruiter will be able to help with this, or, if you are dealing directly with HR, make sure to ask, as the more you know, the better you will be able to prepare.

Make sure to read up on the people you are meeting on LinkedIn and on the company website, in order to gain an idea of their position and their background. Aside from developing a deeper understanding of the structure and the individuals, shared interests or past employers/schools are also good conversation topics.

You should also ask for feedback from the first interview, which might give you an idea of what the firm thought you did well, and in which areas they felt you have weaknesses.

Whatever process you find yourself part of, make sure to:

  • Keep enthusiastic
  • Be prepared to repeat yourself
  • Don’t assume that the interviewers have compared notes
  • Don’t assume that the interviewer has read your CV in any great detail
  • Be prepared to explain and not just say “it’s all there on my CV”
  • Use examples in your answers, in numbers if possible
  • Treat everyone with the highest levels of respect from the receptionist to the CEO
  • Be confident, but not cocky – by this point the firm has identified you as a strong candidate, but so are the other remaining candidates – you are by no means guaranteed to get the job
  • Smile! Connecting on a personal level and demonstrating you can be a successful part of their team is key

How to prepare

How to prepare for a second interviewIf you prepared well for the first interview, you would have already read through the company website, and press releases and news stories relating to the firm. If you didn’t, now is the time! In addition, the first interview will have given you further understanding of the firm, their challenges and where they sit in the marketplace. Firms hire because they need to address an issue or a problem of some sort, because they are growing or because they are undergoing a change in strategy or direction. By now, you will know what they hope to achieve with the new hire; use the second interview to showcase your knowledge, and to address how you will be able to use your skills and experience to help the firm realise their plans.

Second interviews also tend to focus on your perceived weaknesses, as the interviewers will probe the areas in which they have concerns. Were there questions you struggled with in the first interview? Do you lack experience in some areas? Would this prevent you from being successful in the job? Be honest with yourself and prepare thoroughly for an in depth conversation. The feedback from the first interview will be useful for this. Meanwhile, you should also take the opportunity to reinforce the positives.

Finally, you should prepare some original and insightful questions, which will be even more important than in the first interview. Questions can be a good way to demonstrate your knowledge, understanding and enthusiasm, and just as the interviewers will be going more in-depth compared to the first interview, so should you.

Presenting a business plan or a sales pitch

Presentations and business plans have become more and more common over the years, and especially for sales roles. We have covered both of these in past articles, which we’d encourage you to read (the presentation interview & how to write business plans). Key for both is to prepare thoroughly and to do a dummy run at home for someone friendly. If you need to use technology, make sure the firm knows what you need, and send them any files and documents well in advance.

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