Second Interview Questions: The 5 Most Common and How to Answer Them
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Congratulations on passing your first interview! This in itself is an accomplishment, and you are to be commended. You are one step closer to your career goals, however, you’re not out of the woods yet. While the initial interview (usually done by recruiters) serves to screen out unqualified or unsuitable candidates, the second interview (usually involving the hiring manager) 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 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 an interview process is intended to accomplish something different.
In the second round, interviewers are likely to take a deep dive into the following areas:
- Skillset and competencies
- Soft skills
- Cultural fit
We’re talking here not about culture simply in the general sense but company culture in the corporate sense: In many cases, companies will use the second interview as a time for the candidate to meet team members and potential co-workers. The office retail giant Staples, for example, says “it is very common to pull in other managers, peers, and anyone that would be interacting with whoever fills the 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 questions for you. These are some of the most common types of second-round questions to give you some idea of what to expect.
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 management style?”
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 previous role? 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 the culture and the work environment, then 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 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 such as problem-solving and communication skills!
Sure, they’ll likely ask you some questions about the company itself (so do your research on the company website); 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 the second round of interviews involves showing yourself off to your best advantage – not simply as a worker but as a human being. It is a good idea to look up the hiring manager’s social media (especially LinkedIn) profile to have an idea about who they are, their personal values and interests, and potential points of connection.
Behavioral Interviews and the STAR Method
Since behavioral interview questions come up so often in the second round, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the STAR method which is a structured manner of answering them. Behavioral questions are open-ended and focus on how you behaved in certain work-related situations and challenges (such Question 3 and 4 above), asking you for specific examples. Many companies have adopted this methodology in their hiring process, Amazon being one of them.
STAR is an acronym standing for the following:
When preparing to answer these, remember the acronym and start by briefly describing the situation or context of the challenge (be concise and do not go into unnecessary detail), your role, and the task that you were given.
Follow by detailing the specific actions you took to tackle the challenge and the result of your actions.
You could take examples from your current job or previous ones, it usually does not matter.
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 interview into a job offer.
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