What to Expect in a Second Interview

An illustration of four people sitting at at table with one person facing them.
By Robin Reshwan 

Raise your hand if you remember Shalamar's '70s hit "The Second Time Around." According to the lyrics, when it comes to romantic love, "the second time is so much better, baby."

The same can be said of job interviews, too.

Modern companies should use multiple rounds of interviews in the hiring process, according to Power Moves, a book by psychologist Adam Grant, professor at the Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania. Second interviews help hiring managers discern whether job seekers are genuinely qualified instead of simply well-rehearsed. Candidates with fake or hyperbolic answers will likely have a difficult time maintaining that façade over the course of several conversations.

To provide a 360-degree view of an applicant, second interview questions may differ in topic and style from those asked during first interviews. Preparing for probing second interview questions will help you understand what to expect in a second interview.
Read on for tips on how to succeed when you move to round two.

To prepare for second interview questions:

  • Be yourself in the interview process.
  • Dive deep with your answers.
  • Communicate your value.

I recently heard an exceptionally wise tip from a professional contact: "Show how you can be a culture add." For years, people have advised candidates to make sure they can fit in with the company culture. But this outstanding candidate threw down the gauntlet by showing how the culture would be even better if he joined the team.

In your second interview, make sure you clearly communicate how your unique skills, personality and experiences can improve the organization. In doing so, you are demonstrating your understanding of where the company is today and you are committing to add value with your unique contributions. It is not an easy order to fill, but it's a worthwhile approach to consider and a huge plus when you succeed.

When it comes to interviews, a "one and done" approach simply doesn't provide enough information for either party to make the best decision. But multiple meetings don't have to only serve the needs of the company. The second interview gives discerning candidates excellent opportunities to differentiate themselves and vet companies to ensure a good fit. With both parties seeking to make the most of their time together, it increases the odds of making an ideal match.