How to Prepare for a Second Job Interview

Being called back for a second interview is a good sign: You're closer to being offered a job. To ace your second interview, be sure you understand the dynamics at play. The second interview may turn out to be a series of interviews, but the purpose is typically the same in all of them.

Here are three kinds of second interviews and suggested tips to come out ahead in each one:

  • The yours-to-lose selection interview: The decision is virtually made in your favor. But the hiring manager is confirming it with endorsements and buy-in consensus from the team. Your qualifications aren’t in question but your fit (how you fit in with the company culture) is being probed. Relax a little — these are your new colleagues. Keep your answers pleasant, straightforward, and brief but not terse.

  • The finalists’ selection interview: The decision has narrowed to two or three finalists. Keep selling your qualifications. Allude to cultural fit with subtle comments suggesting that you’re one of them. (“I agree that we must build adequate electrical power into the infrastructure.”) Ask intelligent questions, such as depth of support for stated missions and professional development opportunities.

  • The do-over screening interview: Management still wonders whether you’re underqualified and overpriced and wants to make another pass at you, perhaps with different screeners. Expect questions all over again about your job history, skills, salary history or requirements, resume gaps, and the kind of person you are. (You’re reliable, honest, team-oriented and, overall, have laudable values.)

If you’re working with a recruiter, ask the recruiter for tips and where you are in the selection process. If not, ask the same question of the interviewer who has shown you the greatest interest.

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