Second Interviews


Second interviews can vary greatly from an initial interview for a job. In a first interview, the recruiting organisation sees how your work experience, educational background and skills set match your CV and the job specification.

A second interview can take on a different format such as being interviewed by a panel of internal and external interviewers, an in-depth one-on-one interview or a day (or more) in an assessment centre.

Second interviews tend to concentrate on two areas of questioning or assessment:

  • Your skills and experience, to see if you meet the core competencies for the job.
  • Your personal profile, to see if you fit with the culture of the organisation.

In a second interview, enthusiasm, positivity and honesty are paramount; a candidate’s personality and professionalism play an important part in getting a job offer. Be yourself.

Tips for preparing for a second interview

A second interview is a daunting prospect, but plenty of preparation can smooth the way for candidates. While it will be a different experience to a first interview you should review the advice for first interview candidates to ensure you are as prepared as you were for the initial interview. Then, start your preparations specific to the second interview.

Refer to any notes you made following the first interview. It’s important that you recall the following details and design your preparation and interview practice around these.

Using your first interview to prepare for your second interview

  • What areas of your background, your skills or the job spec did the interviewers focus on initially? Be prepared for a stronger focus on these areas in the second interview.
  • Were any of the questions difficult to answer? Try to recall which ones and prepare your answers well, these questions are likely to arise again.
  • Provide the interview with new and different examples of your achievements.
  • Think about the topics you didn’t get to express to the interviewer in the first interview, have these ready, it’s a chance to let them know more about you.

General second interview tips

  • It’s important to review all literature you have on the company and any further details you can access, as it’s likely you will be quizzed on your knowledge of the company.
  • Concentrate during the interview, listening closely to the interviewer. Don’t let yourself get distracted.
  • Know your skills and strengths so that you can reel them off to the interviewer, with confidence.
  • Maintain an air of calmness, be clear and concise in your answers and portray a positive and enthusiastic outlook.
  • Ask questions, it demonstrates your interest in the role. This is your chance to find out whether you like the company, the department and what the position involves.

Questions to ask in a second interview

  • Ask what you are expected to achieve in the role in your first 6 months.
  • Ask the interviewer about the company culture.
  • Show an interest in furthering yourself by asking whether there are any professional training and development opportunities or supports.
  • Ask questions pertaining to the information given to you during the course of the first interview. It highlights your interest and listening skills.
  • Ask anything that you’re not clear on about the role or organisation.

What to do after a second interview

Give feedback to your recruitment consultant immediately after the interview.

When giving feedback, make sure to mention parts of the interview you think you didn’t do too well in, or a mistake you made. Your consultant can raise this for you when they speak to the hiring company.

Normally you will hear whether you have been successful in the interview within a number of days.

If you’re offered the job at the end of the interview, don’t be afraid to ask for some time before making a decision.

Have you read our other guides to help you prepare for interview?

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