Second interview questions and scenarios to expect

Getting past the first interview is usually a breeze but second interview questions will make the hiring difference. Here’s what to expect.

You’ve managed to make a good impression on your prospective employer in your first meeting, landing yourself a second interview. It’s apparent that you’re in the running and that the employer believes you are suitable to perform the job, but perhaps there are other candidates who are still being considered.

It’s crucial to be well prepared for the second interview to set yourself apart from the crowd and convince the employer that you’re the best person for the job. Second interview questions usually delve deep into the role itself. Ensure that you've gone through each and every requirement listed. And for those you fall short at, make sure you have a good reason, or how you intend to bridge that gap. Once you know what to expect, you can then plan accordingly.

Greater focus on the details

The employer may scrutinise your CV, focusing on any qualifications and skills needed to succeed in the role. They’ll be looking out for someone who understands the ins and outs of the role as well as the company at large. You should be able to present your achievements and your experience, particularly those which will be transferable to the new role, positioning yourself as an ideal candidate for the position.

A different interview format

Your second interview is likely to follow a different format from the first. It may be in the form of a conference call or Skype interview. If your initial meeting was a conventional question-and-answer session, the second may include an assessment, presentation or case study

A different interviewer

In many cases, the second interview may also be conducted by panel of interviewers. Expect to face questions from senior stakeholders within the organisation who may want to assess the potential new recruits and weigh in on the final decision. If this happens, you won’t be able to fall back on any rapport you’ve developed with the interviewer in the previous meeting.

More challenging interview questions

Occasionally, employers may test candidates with difficult and unusual questions that may appear to be unrelated to the profession. Candidates who can cope with these unconventional questions are those who can think out of the box and adapt to difficult situations under pressure – qualities that employers prize in their potential hires.

A time to query and clarify

Candidates should always be ready to ask questions of their own. Prepare any queries that weren’t clarified in the first interview to learn more about the job and the company culture. This way, you can decide if this is a job that allows you to truly love what you do, while also impressing the employer with your professionalism and insight.

Tying up loose ends

The employer will want to revisit any issues which may not have been properly clarified in the last interview. It's important to go over any possible improvements and prepare solid answers in case similar topics crop up again.

A tour of the workplace

During a second interview, it's possible that the employer will offer to give you a tour of their office or work facility. This is another opportunity for you to assess whether the job and company culture is the right fit for you.

Discussion about salary

The employer may not offer a discussion on remuneration; but in the case that the subject is raised during the second interview, it's important to have consulted resources like the Robert Half Salary Guide to establish your worth. You’ll be able to negotiate more effectively if you know where you stand in the job market.

What happens next?

At the end of a second interview, you should be informed on the next steps in the process and when a decision is likely to be made. In some circumstances, the employer may be ready to make you a job offer on the spot. It is best to politely ask the interview for some time to fully consider the offer, and give a time-frame for your answer. If the interviewer doesn't mention what comes next, do ask when they will be contacting you with any further updates.

Whether it’s your first or second interview, it’s always best to come prepared – when you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Read up on other interview tips, to ensure you’ll make the best impression on your prospective employers.

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