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Invited for a second interview? You’re one step closer to a job offer, but how do you know what to expect in terms of second interview questions? Read our expert guide to acing the second interview, with example questions and answers.
Congratulations, you made it to the second round of interviews. While you may be one step closer to the prize of a job offer, you’re probably wondering what to expect in the second interview and how you can ensure that you stand out from the other candidates.
Second interviews usually involve senior executives and managers asking more in-depth questions as they assess more closely whether you’re the right person for the job. Hiring managers will be envisaging how well you will fit into the role, the team, and company culture, so it’s vital to be prepared with killer answers to second interview questions.
In this article we explore:
How to prepare for a second interview
8 Second interview questions with example answers
Questions to ask the hiring manager
Top tips after the second interview
According to the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM), the follow-up (second) interview is usually the final step before a job offer is made to a candidate. Typically, the employer is trying to decide between two or more qualified applicants at this point.
Preparation is key to acing a second interview, which could also be the final interview and your last chance to impress the hiring manager. Here are a few top tips to ensure you are on track for success:
Evaluating your performance in the first interview can help you be prepared for the second interview. What went really well in your interview? What could have gone better? Was there anything you forgot to tell the hiring manager? It’s also useful to think about how the hiring manager reacted to your answers. Were there any skills or experience that the recruiter got excited about and asked you to elaborate on?
Answering these questions will help you identify focus areas for the second interview and enable you to address any gaps. Preparing some real-life examples related to these focus areas, such as problems navigated in the workplace, projects delivered and any accomplishments, will also help you make a great impression second time around.
Being armed with great answers to common second interview questions is the best way to feel prepared, confident, and ready to ace the interview. You don’t want to be stumbling over an answer or go completely blank when you are so close to a potential job offer.
Second interview questions are likely to be more job-specific, for example asking how you might deal with a specific work situation or challenge. The interviewer will also be looking to find out more about your preferences in the workplace, such as salary, benefits, management style, career goals and aspirations.
If you’re replacing an employee, try to find out what they have achieved in their role and/or any specialist projects they have worked on. Research on the company was probably completed for your first-round interview, but it’s worth refreshing this knowledge and doing a bit more digging to find out if there is any new information or perhaps something you missed last time around.
Check the company website, blog, social media platforms, and reputable news sources. This can tell you more about the role you are targeting and any recent developments that you can reference during the second interview. You can also find out more about the mission, vision, and objectives of the organization as well as the company culture.
For example, if you’re interviewing for a sales manager role and find out the company is focused on embracing technology and omnichannel sales approaches in a recent blog, you can apply any knowledge you have in this area/do some research and make some insightful comments at the interview if this topic crops up.
Here are some frequently asked second interview questions and example answers to make sure you are fully prepped for the next interview round:
This common interview question can be overlooked in terms of interview preparation. While it may seem a pretty straightforward question, it can be an easy one to trip up on, particularly in the context of a second interview.
Start your answer by talking about your current role and highlight any skills, experience and contributions that relate to this new role (information you will have gained in the first interview). Next, talk about your progression, whether that was via promotion, professional development, or experience with a different company. Finally, and most importantly, talk about the future and how you plan to add value if offered the position.
“I’m currently working as a marketing manager at Blue Mountain and I’m responsible for the strategic management and development of a portfolio of key accounts - with focus on digital communications. This is why I’m so interested in the job opening at Green Tree Marketing, as I really value your commitment to being an authentic voice and connecting with customers via digital communication channels.
Prior to this role, I completed my Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing (with Honors) and secured an internship with Pulse Advertising. This internship provided me with a wealth of marketing skills and experience, particularly in the area of influencer marketing, which I’m really passionate about. Sara mentioned in the last interview that this is an area you are keen to develop, so I’d love to contribute toward that goal.
I joined Blue Mountain as a marketing associate and was quickly recognized for my creativity, strategic approach and strong team-building skills. I was lucky to get selected for the management program, where I was exposed to recruitment, leadership, management and staff development. After five years, I’m now ready to apply these skills in a new setting and I feel confident of my ability to support the launch of your new marketing office and any future expansion efforts.”
This question usually crops up in some way, shape, or form in the first interview, so there will be some repetition, particularly if your original interviewer is involved in the second interview. The goal here is to apply what you have learned about the role and company in the last interview, to show what value you can offer to meet the company’s requirements.
“During the last interview, you highlighted that a major part of the role involves client liaison and that this is equally as important as any graphic design skills or experience. Across my 10 years in the field of graphic design, I’ve been recognized for my client-centric approach and ability to build positive relationships with diverse clients.
I collaborate with clients to ensure a full understanding of their requirements, including in-depth reviews of their past design elements as well as the types of designs that thrive in their field. I then combine this information to create images that truly produce results. This collaborative approach has led to high levels of client retention as well as referrals. I’d love to bring these skills and more to ABC Company.”
Interviewers will ask this question when trying to assess whether you will mesh well with the team and company culture. Check out company reviews online, read LinkedIn posts from employees to see what they say about the company, and look at the company website where there may be information on work culture on the “About Us” page, blogs, or videos.
“From everything I’ve learned about the company so far, I understand your organization is focused on cross-department collaboration, employee relationships, and accountability. I really appreciate this team-first approach, and consider myself a strong team-builder and team-player, so I feel that I would really excel in this environment.”
Many candidates believe that a job interview will be laser-focused on their past experience, rather than what they plan to do if they get hired. However, whatever your level of experience, the common way of thought is that you have three months to make an impact in your new role.
Don’t promise the stars or state that you are going to really shake things up if you get hired. The best approach when answering this question is to take a middle ground. Essentially, you will listen and learn during this three-month period, but also get on with things too.
“I was really interested to hear about the new development projects in the pipeline as well as the existing projects and challenges, such as the current ERP implementation. My first approach would be to organize meetings with project teams and key stakeholders to get up to speed and learn more about any challenges or bottlenecks so these can be addressed. Moving forward, I would focus on establishing key milestones and actively tracking project performance to ensure projects are delivered on time, in budget, and to exacting standards.”
While it may be tempting to answer, “Not really,” and move on to the next question, this won’t look good. Prior to the second interview, think about any questions you didn’t get chance to ask about at the end of the first interview or any areas you thought about after the interview.
“During the last interview, you mentioned the company’s strong commitment to sustainability. This is something I’m really passionate about and I was part of a Sustainability Committee in my last role. Will there be any opportunities for me to contribute in a similar way or are there any upcoming plans and events I could participate in if offered the role of [Job Name]?”
Interviewers tend to ask this question for two key reasons. First, they want to ensure that you plan to stay with the company for a significant period of time. Secondly, they are checking whether your goals align with the goals of the organization. When you prepare an answer to this interview question, tailor your answer to the specific company as much as possible.
“In the short term, I would be looking to apply my teaching experience to increase student engagement and incorporate cooperative learning strategies into the classroom. In the long term, I would love to progress to a leadership role and am keen to attend any training and continuing education to achieve this goal and also complement my teaching practice.”
Second interview questions tend to dig a bit deeper, so be prepared if the hiring manager asks you why you are leaving your current job. The interviewer will be looking to find any red flags, whether you were fired from your last job, didn’t fit into the team or left the job for other reasons.
Stay positive when providing your reasons for leaving your current job, as anything negative will just look negative on your part too.
“I’ve enjoyed my current role over the past three years, but now I feel ready to advance in my career. I want some new challenges and I feel that this role would offer me those opportunities. Your company caught my attention because…” State something specific about the company and why you want to work for them.
Before you attend an interview, check out the Salary Analyzer on Career.io to get a good idea of what you should be aiming for. The best option is to discuss a salary range. Employers will have a budget for the role, so it makes sense to provide a range so you don’t rule yourself out of the game by going too high or pitching too low.
“Based on my skills and experience, I would be looking for an annual salary between $...and $..... While this is the range that I have in mind, I would be open to discussing these numbers in more detail.”
Another question you should definitely prepare for at a second interview is, “Do you have any questions for us?” You may think that the recruiter is just being polite, but more likely hiring managers are asking you this question to measure your skills and experience against the strength of your potential commitment and passion for their company.
Here are some examples of great interview questions to ask the hiring manager:
What is the history of this role?
Can you explain a typical day in the life of this role?
What are the biggest challenges someone in this role will be faced with?
What professional development opportunities are available?
Why did you join the company and why did you stay?
What are the company’s core values?
Can you explain the company culture and how you uphold it?
What would you want me to accomplish in the first six months?
Has anything come up in terms of my suitability for the role?
What are the most important short- and long-term business goals?
Can you describe the team I would be working with if I am appointed?
What are the next steps in the interview process?
The number of questions you will be able to ask the hiring manager will very much depend on how long the interview lasts. Typically, you would aim to ask between three to five questions, but this could be more or less depending on the time the interviewer has available.
Making a lasting final impression in a second interview is just as important as a strong start. Here are some tips and advice for adding the final touches to a perfect second interview:
Next steps. At the end of the interview, ask what the next step in the hiring process will be and when you can expect to hear back after the interview.
Thank them. Say thank you to each interviewer before you leave while ensuring positive body language, such as a smile and confident handshake.
Follow up. Send a follow-up note via email within 24 hours to thank the hiring manager for their time. Make sure you refer to some conversation highlights from the second interview and wrap up with your continued enthusiasm for the role.
Follow up again. Follow-up with the hiring manager if you don’t hear anything back by the date confirmed. Word this politely and, in the event of not receiving a job offer, ask for some feedback to take forward to your next interview.
If you are looking to be 100 percent interview-ready, check out Career.io’s Interview Preparation tool to ace your next interview.
Preparing for second interview questions is just as important, if not more, than the first interview as you are perhaps one interview away from a job offer.
Revisit your first interview and what you learned, prepare and practice answers to common second interview questions and do some additional research on the role and company.
Always prepare at least three interview questions to ask the hiring manager to show your passion and commitment for the role.
After your second interview, thank your interviewers for their time, check next steps, and send a follow-up thank you email within 24 hours.
Helen is an experienced content writer, with expertise in corporate law, business, sales, marketing and education. Prior to this, she worked in recruitment and human resources, so she has a strong sense of what recruiters are looking for in terms of a potential employee. Helen loves exploring new places, writing blogs of her travel across Europe and enjoying trips to the US, Thailand and the Middle East. She is an avid reader of fiction, poetry, self-help books and factual content and also enjoys creative writing in her spare time, including poetry and children’s fiction.