Second Interview Questions: The 5 Most Common and How to Answer Them

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Overview

Congratulations on passing your first interview! This in itself is an accomplishment, and you are to be commended; however, you’re not out of the woods yet. While the first interview serves to screen out unqualified or unsuitable candidates, the second interview will delve more deeply into who you are and what makes you tick. Naturally, you’ll want to nail this job interview as well.

Want to be sure you’re prepared? 

What Are Second-round Interview Questions?

Second-round interview questions tend to be different from first-round questions for a few simple reasons. Obviously, the first-round questions have already been answered and therefore don’t need to be covered again. More importantly, however, the second round of a job interview is intended to accomplish something different.

In the second round, interviewers are likely to take a deep dive into the following areas:

  • Knowledge
  • Skills and competency
  • Soft skills
  • Cultural fit

We’re talking here not about culture simply in the general sense but in the corporate sense: “In many cases, companies will use the second round interview as a time for the candidate to meet other employees on the team. Staples said it is very common to pull in other managers, peers, and anyone that would be interacting with whoever fills this open role.”

If you were interviewing with a company like Staples, then, you could expect the hiring manager to ask you questions not just about the job and your competency but about yourself, including your likes, interests, and passions. 

The 5 Most Common Second-round Interview Questions

While it’s impossible for us to predict exactly what will be asked in any given interview, we have put together a list of some of the most common types of second-round interview questions to give you some idea of what to expect. 

two women looking at a potential candidate during a second interview

Question 1: “[This recently released movie] has gotten fantastic reviews. Have you seen it? What did you think?”

Questions like this one tend to appear at the very beginning of the interview and may feel like an icebreaker. But make no mistake. This is part of the interview. The interviewer may choose a movie that’s evoked strong feelings around the office, and your answer could hint at how you’d fit in. Just be honest, and don’t worry if you haven’t seen it. 

Question 2: “Have you read [this most recent article]? If so, what did you think about it?” 

This question works on two levels. First, it gauges whether you’re staying current with what’s going on in the industry. If you haven’t read the specific article they mention, fear not. They’re more interested in knowing you’re aware of the issue the article addresses than if you’ve read that specific one. If that’s the case, you can simply say, “No, I haven’t read that article, but I’m aware of the issue it’s addressing,” before segueing directly into your opinions on the matter. When stating your opinions, be sure to do so with a downward inflection (which implies certainty) rather than an upward one (which implies a question).

Question 3: “Describe your last boss. What did they do well that you appreciated? Were there areas in which they could have improved their leadership?” 

Be careful here. This question is designed to evaluate how you navigate workplace tensions. While it’s important to be honest about the weaknesses of past employers, you must also be restrained in your tone. The hiring manager will be listening not just for what you say but with what attitude you say it.  

Question 4: “Whom did you work well with in your last place of employment? What do you think made you two a good fit?”

Even if you left your last job because every co-worker you had was insufferable, it would do you no favors to say you didn’t get along well with anyone you worked with at your last job. A prospective employer would likely wonder if you were the problem. Simply pick the former co-worker you got along with the best, and explain why.

Question 5: “How do you see yourself fitting in here?”

If this is your second interview, you’ve now visited the company at least twice and should therefore have a good idea of whether it feels like a good fit. The worst thing you can say at this point is something noncommittal or deflective, such as “I don’t know” or “That’s for you to decide.” Instead, be honest. If you see yourself fitting in well, list the reasons why. If you have a misgiving, state it diplomatically.  Doing so can show that you’re self-aware enough to know what it takes to fit into a pre-established group dynamic.  

How to Prepare for Second-round Questions 

The best way to prepare for second-round interview questions is to adjust your mindset. Remember, this isn’t just another interview just like the first one, only longer. It’s another type of interview entirely, designed to test something different from the first.

 Don’t forget that if you’ve already been asked extensive questions about your hard skills, second interview questions might focus more on your soft skills and cultural fit.

Sure, they’ll likely ask you some questions about the company itself; but they’ll spend much more time focusing on you, your personality and vibe, and how you might fit into your prospective team. Preparing for second-round questions involves showing yourself off to best advantage–not simply as a worker but as a human being. 

How to Answer Any Question That Comes Up

In reality, no matter what question comes up in your second interview, you can do well by following best practices for answering interview questions:

  • Be clear and concise. 
  • Answer the question that’s asked.
  • Wrap up each response conclusively. 
  • Smile, nod, and make eye contact.
  • Speak firmly and with confidence, even when you’re not sure you’ve given the answer the interviewer would like to hear. 

Preparing for the second job interview is important and requires a different type of preparation from the first interview; but with a bit of forethought and practice with the sample questions listed above, you could be in great shape to leverage your second job interview into an offer. 

Want to land more interviews for your potential dream job? Visit Lensa’s job search and upload your resume.

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