So you’ve passed your first interview. Congratulations! This in itself is an accomplishment, and you are to be commended. While you are now one step closer to your career goals, you’re not out of the woods yet. The initial interview, usually done by recruiters, merely served to screen out unqualified or unsuitable candidates. This second interview, which will likely involve the hiring manager, will delve more deeply into who you are and what makes you tick. Naturally, you’ll want to prepare to answer your second interview questions just as carefully as you did your first round.
Want to be sure you’re prepared? Read on.
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:
- Skill-sets 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.
- Practices and habits
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 Rationale Behind Second Interview Questions
In considering the rationale behind second interview questions, HR professional and founder of gaming site Hypernia, Matthew Paxton has this to say:
When we have an applicant for a second interview, this usually means that they already possess the necessary skills and education relevant to the job posting. Now is the time to see whether they fit well into our current team. In other words, we should be testing their soft skills.
Among different soft skills, communication is the best. We want to know how they would handle being in a team. Are they a team-player who prioritizes the organization? Or an individualist who prioritizes themselves.
In order to assess a potential employee along these lines, Paxton likes to ask a question like this one: “When you make a mistake in your job, what is the first thing that you would do?”
Here’s why this question works for him.
I like this question specifically because it is not that common. And interviewees are often taken aback by it. Their answer to this question will let me know how they handle failures. Are they comfortable with it or not?
This may not be one of the more common questions you’ll see in a second interview, but we can see why Paxton and other HR professionals may favor it. Like other second interview questions, it gives employers a peek into how you think, feel, and make decisions.
Understanding what employers are looking for with their second interview questions will help you prepare answers that show you to your best advantage.
The 7 Most Common Second 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 the most common second interview questions. Studying them will not only give you some idea of what to expect, but it will also allow you to prepare the answers that will best help you dominate this part of the hiring process.
Note: Though this is rare, you may see some of the same questions from your first interview show up during the second round. This can happen for several reasons. First, because the hiring manager likely wasn’t present for your first interview, they may wind up asking something that overlaps with information you shared in the first round. Second, your first-round answer may have left the need for follow-up questions.
No matter what happens, though, simply do your best to answer each question with patient cheerfulness.
Question 1: “Why don’t you walk us through your resume?”
During your second interview, this is one of the more common questions you’re likely to hear. Along with “Tell us a bit about yourself,” it’s the type of open-ended questions a hiring manager or interview panel loves to ask.
The worst thing you can do with this question is ramble. Instead of trying to include every facet of every job you’ve ever done, use this time to focus on career highlights.
- What you’ve learned in each position you’ve held
- Important projects you’ve worked on and the end results
- Wins and benefits you brought to each company
- Strengths and the skills you’ve gained over time
- Advantages you naturally possesses or have developed
- How your past positions have influenced your current career goals
Practice your resume walkthrough until you can keep the highlight reel under five minutes. If they want, they can always ask for more information; but you want to keep yourself from getting long-winded and risk boring the group!
With this question, always be short and punchy. Include relevant information, but leave them curious and wanting more.
Question 2: “[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 not a chance to relax and chit-chat. This is anything but. It’s actually a pivotal part of the job interview.
In asking this question, the interviewer may choose a movie that evoked strong feelings around the office, and your answer could hint at how you’d fit into the company culture. Since that’s something you can’t really predict, just be honest, and don’t worry if you haven’t seen it.
Instead, you can pivot to a film you’ve watched recently that’s left a strong impression on you. Don’t get carried away, but definitely share your opinion. This response shows that you’re engaged in the world and willing to share your thoughts when asked.
Question 3: “Have you read [this most recent article]? If so, what did you think about it?”
This question works on two levels:
- It gauges whether you’re staying current with what’s going on in the industry, and demonstrating that you’ve kept up with the most recent articles in popular publications is a great way to do this. If you haven’t read the specific article they mention, fear not. There’s another level to this question.
- The hiring manager is more interested in knowing you’re aware of the issue the article addresses than if you’ve read that specific article. 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.” Then segue directly into your opinions on the matter.
When stating your opinions about published articles, always be sure to do so with a downward inflection in your tone. This implies certainty. Using an upward inflection implies a question, and makes you sound unsure of yourself.
Question 4: “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 not designed to give you space to vent about former employers but to evaluate how you navigate workplace tensions.
While it’s important to be honest about the weaknesses of past employers, you must also moderate your tone. The hiring manager will be listening not just for what you say but with what attitude you say it.
Always accentuate whatever positives you can.Though you may be leaving your former employer with a bad taste in your mouth, that doesn’t mean they did every single thing wrong. Acknowledge what good you can, and when offering critiques, focus more on behavior and outcomes rather than personality or likeability.
Question 5: “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. For all they know, that could say more about you than about your colleagues.
Simply pick the former co-worker you got along with the best and explain why. A few concrete examples will help color your answer and leave a positive impression.
Question 6: “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 of waffling, simply 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 as diplomatically as possible. Doing so can show that you’re self-aware enough to know what it takes to fit into a pre-established group dynamic.
Question 7: “Why do you want to work here?”
This is a great opportunity to show you’ve done your homework and highlight your career goals at the same time.
Your answer to this question should include a combination of the following elements:
- What you love or what impresses you about the company
- How you can add value to the current strategies, products, services, values, or vision
- Where you plan to take the position or department should you be hired
The bottom line: Your answer should leave them with the impression that you like the company for a specific set of reasons, your current skills and experience make you the perfect candidate for the job, and with you on board, the company can more easily and effectively reach its goals.
How to Prepare for a Second Round of Interview Questions
The best way to prepare for a second round of 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 with a different interview process 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 is about learning how to show 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 any potential points of connection.
- Life experiences
Anything you can have in common to create a point of connection can be leveraged to your advantage.
Because all this is a lot to keep in mind, you’ll want to find a good method with which to organize your thoughts and keep yourself on track.
Using the STAR Method in a Job Interview
Behavioral questions are open-ended and focus on how you behaved in certain work-related situations and challenges, asking you for specific examples.
Many companies have adopted this methodology in their hiring process, and if you’re not currently up to speed, there’s never been a better time to familiarize yourself with this method.
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. What matters is that you’re clear on the situation, what task was required to address it, what actions you took, and how favorable the results were.
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 mindset 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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