Second Interviews – a Balancing Act! How should you prepare for them?

Michelle Bentley, General Manager Hender Careers

14 July 2023

Second interviews come in many different styles – they may follow a screening interview (phone, e-meeting or in-person), or a more formally structured interview, with one or more people. But, whatever the circumstance, the key to success is to make no assumptions and prepare for all possibilities. It is also wise to seek guidance from the person who sets up the interview as to what the structure, time frame and style may be, and who is involved.

In summary prepare for all these possibilities – unless your intel has suggested otherwise. Likely reasons for a second interview (or third or fourth – yes, they do happen!) are to:

  • Probe more deeply about skills, competencies and specific details around your previous work and achievements.
  • Check first impressions and seek the views of additional people or ‘selectors’ through expanding the panel, to validate or otherwise impressions of preferred candidate/s. Or it may be to introduce a ‘higher authority’ into the decision making - for their ‘sign off’.
  • Give you a task to do or ask you to present on something, to test you out in an area of specific job relevance.
  • Discuss the ‘nitty gritty’ of a potential job offer and the logistical details and specifics such as salary, starting date, working conditions, incentive payments, travel / contractual requirements. 
  • Assess you, your interpersonal skills and personality in a more relaxed and less formal setting eg coffee ‘chat’, to see how you relate to people or it may include a tour of premises.
  • Provide the candidate with an opportunity to also probe deeper and ask any ‘burning’ questions.
  • Assess you in several of the above.

Whatever the format or tone – you should aim to leave the organisation wanting you as the preferred candidate. It’s preferable to be offered the role and decline it (as it’s not the right career move for you) than to have no option! Walking away from an opportunity is more empowering than missing out because you were unaware or underprepared. 

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