A guide to answering second interview questions

Published Jan. 7, 2021

Being called upon for a second interview does not guarantee that you’ll get hired. While companies do the first interview to set a shortlist of candidates according to basic qualifications, the second interview aims to drill into the details to decide if you would be the best fit for the company role.

A guide to answering second interview questions

So this isn’t the moment to get cocky and let everything you’ve fought so hard on slide by. Practicing for your second interview calls for more work as you get the second chance to showcase yourself as the ideal candidate for the job. At Mentorcruise, a mentorship platform, many mentors agree that a successful second interview relies on thorough preparation, setting priorities, and crafting thoughtful responses.

Before we proceed, this article will assume that this is your second in-person interview, not a telephone screening interview. But if your only previous interview was through the phone and this is your first in-person interview, then for all intentions and purposes, you want to consider this to be the first interview. You may want to check out our other articles tackling this subject.

This article will guide you in preparing for your second interview and provide professional answers to some second interview questions. You’ll learn:

  • What exactly is a second interview?
  • How does the first interview differ from the second?
  • Types of second interview formats
  • Top second interview questions and answers
  • How to prepare for the second interview
  • Top tips for success during a second interview
  • Sample questions to ask during a second interview
  • What to do after a second interview

What exactly is a second interview?

Just like what it sounds, your second interview is a second chance for the recruiter to take a thorough look at you and decide whether you’re a good fit for the role. But it’s also much more than just that. To better understand this, we need to look out for how the second interview differs from the first interview.

How does the first interview differ from the second?

In the hiring process, the first interview was the warm-up. You’ve probably met a hiring manager or someone from HR. And it was presumably more of a broad screening to weed out the least of the inappropriate candidates.

The second interview is the “big leagues,” which implies it will probably be carried out by someone a lot higher up to make a hiring decision. Your second interview will be much more in-depth and might include introductions to other chief members in the business, including senior managers, superiors, and even fellow teammates.

Again, the initial interview is focused on skills and experience. Here, the interviewer will often ask about your work history and projects you have worked on to evaluate your personality.

On the other hand, the second interview is on the company culture, your emotional intelligence for effective management, and technical abilities applicable to the role you are applying. They may ask you behavioral questions. For these, the STAR method is a useful framework to use.

While the first interview is usually just one-on-one with a hiring manager or a person from HR, the second interview can follow many different formats. And in the whole interview process, there could be a collection of several additional “mini interviews”.

Below are some of the various interview formats you can expect in your second interview.

Types of second Interview formats

One-on-One: Your second interview could be similar to your first, given that you meet with only one person. However, this person could be someone with a more influential role within the company. They could be the owner, director, vice president, etc.

Panel Interview: You might face the dreaded panel interview. Here you literally “face the firing squad” as many people interview you at the same time and make an assessment of your skills. So tighten your seat belt and be ready to answer a bunch of questions. But fear not, they like you after all. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have brought you in for a second interview in the first place. Try to maintain eye contact at various points with the panel.

Group Interview: This second interview format can be a curse or a blessing depending on the type of person you are. The company places you amongst other candidates/competition in the group interview, and everyone is interviewed simultaneously.

The panel or hiring manager will often ask you to do tasks that require interaction between the applicants to assess how you will work with others if employed. Focus on your abilities instead of getting intimidated by other applicants.

In your second interview, there is a chance you’ll be talking about long-term commitments. So how do you prepare for this new level of analysis, intensity, and yes, even anxiety/fear?

Reading through sample interview questions and considering how you will answer them is the best way to prepare for a job interview. We put together the following list of top second interview questions that you may face to help you begin with.

Top second interview questions and how to answer

Sample #1: What are your long-term career goals?

Your interviewer will possibly ask you to talk about your long-term career aspirations; the specific events you want to meet further down the line.

They want to use this information to assess whether your goals and planned accomplishments align with the business’s long-term growth strategy.

This way, they can ensure that they only recruit someone who will be committed to the company over the long-term and have the willingness to take on responsibility and learn on the job.

In your response, talk about how you desire to advance in your career—the milestone you want to reach and why they are significant.

Sample response #1

“Over the short-term, I hope to utilize my communication facilities to help advance your relationships with developers on GitHub. In the long-term, I want to improve my experience over nurturing diverse developer relations channels and take on a leadership function where I can help influence your business developer outreach approach.”

Sample #2. What core attributes can you bring to this job?

By asking this question, your interviewer wants to know more about the specific ways you plan on adding value to the business. So it’s time to sell yourself:

  • As an employee, you should give a clear, concise response that applies to the role you applied for.
  • Link your answer to the job description for the position and any attributes the interviewer has mentioned.
  • It is also crucial to say examples of your past work that showcase how you have employed specific professional workplace qualities.

Sample response #2

“My experience in using X and Y is in line with the expectations for this role. I adopted both these tools broadly in my last job to provide professional communication in collaboration with my previous boss and kept a record of our customer correspondence. I look forward to employing my strong written experience and skills with these tools to this office to help you make your business more effective.”

Sample #3: What salary are you looking to earn?

The question of salary would often pop out in a second interview. Make sure to consider the salary you desire to earn and other salary guides before going into the second interview.

Suppose you do not have the right salary figure or range in mind. In that case, you can use Glassdoor sites or LinkedIn to learn about the average salaries offered to employees with your job experience level and title. These help you set realistic salary expectations based on industry standards.

We often advise that you set a range for the number you expect to earn instead of a specific number. Make sure you’re flexible on any amount you propose.

Sample response #3

“In this role, I look forward to earning between $40,000 and $45,000 yearly. I believe this is a strong figure given my past expertise, but I am quite flexible and would consider any benefits in the negotiations over salary.”

Now that you have observed a few second interview questions, you may be asked, the following tips will help you better prepare.

How to prepare for your second interview

Plan Your Strategy

You want to express a genuine interest in the company, and the best way to achieve that is to figure it out yourself first.

You need to tailor the whole second interview to the company you’re interviewing with (and the role you’re interviewing for).

One top way to do this is to saturate your answers to the interview questions with qualities you’ve found through your research on the company and the job listing.

Use your contacts

If you have contacts in the company or know of past or current employees, this is the time to contact them. Question them regarding the atmosphere within the industry.

Ask them about the things they liked while working there and those they didn’t. Yes, you can even find out from them the person/people who will be interviewing you, but be mindful of how you use this information!

When asking a former employee, understand why they’re former employees (bad or good). But do not allow personal convictions to dictate your ability to form your own impressions.

You want to double and triple-check your resume and print out many copies. In the case where you’re heading for a group interview, make sure to make enough copies for everyone.

Remember the loose ends from the first interview

Did your interview post questions in the previous interview, which you didn’t answer completely? Maybe your interviewer mentioned that they couldn’t cover a particular topic because of time. You want to recall and better prepare answers for those loose ends from the first interview.

Be ready to answer off-the-wall questions

Many companies enjoy asking critical questions, like, “If you were stranded on an island, what item would you want to have with you and for what reason” to assess your problem-solving skills and unveil a bit of your personality.

Have stories to tell

Instead of just saying that you’re good at what you do, consider sharing some success stories of past achievements. Stand out by providing specific instances of how you helped resolve a problem or state your steps in dealing with a challenge that unites your audience.

Be enthusiastic when meeting the team

Assuming you didn’t get a tour through the first interview, your potential employer may walk you around, point out where your office may be, and introduce you to potential coworkers. This is a unique opportunity to express great interest in different parts of the company’s operation.

Top Tips for success in a second interview

Practice typical interview questions

You can begin by practicing some of the interview questions we’ve discussed. This will ensure that you sharpen your responses to these questions in advance and help you build self-confidence before your interview. You may equally want to ask a family member or friend to listen and give feedback on your responses as you prepare.

Research the company

Take some time to research the company before your second interview starts. At the same time, you should already have done so during your first interview. But the more research you carry out, the better.

To impress your interviewer(s) with your knowledge, a piece of concise personal information (gleaned via LinkedIn or the company’s website) is excellent for small talks. Just make sure you don’t go overboard.

When you research your company in advance, you’ll personalize your answers to their questions. This would reveal to your interviewer that you must have thought about how you could add significance to that company.

Examine your experience

Reviewing your experience and skills before going to the interview will help you feel more confident when responding to questions like ‘what core attributes can you bring to this position.’

Take out time in advance to review your cover letter and resume. Ensure that you’re prepared with some specific instances of your work history.

Have some questions to ask.

We can’t emphasize this enough… The interview rule is a two-way street, meaning you need to ask questions too. Yes, you could be the ideal match for the job, but what if the company is not the right fit for you?

At the end of your second interview, your interviewer(s) may often ask if you have any questions you want the business to answer.

At this point, it is often essential to have a couple of questions to ask them. Asking great questions is one way to exhibit your interest in the job and discuss any concerns you may have regarding the position. Practice answering is also an excellent way to train your communication skills.

Sample questions to ask during a second interview

Below are a few sample questions you could ask in a second interview.

When talking to the hiring manager:

  • Does any orientation process exist for fresh hires?
  • What are my long-range opportunities with this position? May I hear something about the advancement process?
  • Is there potential for professional growth with the company?
  • Does the company encourage employees to advance their education and upgrade their skills through conventions or classes?

When talking to a supervisor or manager:

  • How would you define your management style?
  • What are the main goals and priorities for my role?
  • Who will my colleagues be?
  • What are the everyday tasks and obligations of the job?
  • What are your expectations and those of the company for this position?

When talking to a coworker:

  • What does a typical workday look like?
  • What are the biggest challenges you’ve encountered in the job?
  • Do you think they’re possibilities for professional growth?

What to do after the second interview

At the second interview conclusion, the interviewer will possibly inform you of what happens next and when you can expect to hear from them. Better still, they could give you the position on the scene. If they do, you don’t have to accept right then, except you’re sure you want the job.

Feel free to let them know you need time to decide and when they will hear back from you. However, if they don’t specify the next steps, endeavor to ask when they’ll reach out or follow up.

Send a message of gratitude to the people who interviewed you the first time. This time, you may want to send a thank-you note to the people you met and reiterate your interest in the position and company.

Preparing for your second interview with Mentorcruise

The second interview is a unique opportunity to showcase the value you can bring to a business. Advancing to a second interview shows that a company is interested in you, but doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be employed, except you continue to show that value.

The only way to guarantee that you get hired is to spend time preparing. And the best way to prepare is to talk to a career coach. Book a career coaching session with Mentorcruise in minutes to nail that second interview and secure your dream job.