Insight News

Feb 11th

Second interviews require extra preparation

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By Julie Desmond

Question: My first interview went really well. I was invited to return for a second interview, this time with a different manager. How should I prepare? Question: My first interview went really well. I was invited to return for a second interview, this time with a different manager. How should I prepare?

Answer: The key is to recognize that you do have to prepare. Even if you researched the company thoroughly just a week or two ago, taking the time to refresh your knowledge and find additional information can pay off in an interview situation.

If your first interview was with a representative from Human Resources, the second interview will likely be with the manager you will report to, or the group you could be working with long term. Take time to review the job description, comparing your skills and experience to each requirement listed, so that you will know what the hiring manager is looking for when asking about your background.

During the second interview, you will feel more comfortable and confident, but let the interviewer steer the conversation. Listen for cues about what matters to this person and try to develop an understanding about what he or she would be like to work with.

Even if the interviewer tries to wrench it out of you, avoid saying anything at all negative about your current situation. You have valid reasons for wanting a change which may include making a transition to a different industry or taking on new challenges. Although he or she may seem intrigued, the hiring manager is not interested in your former employer's bad habits.

During the second interview you will be actively making a decision about whether this is a job you want to accept. Perform an internet search and check blogs or face book entries for inside information about the corporate culture. One candidate lamented, "I should never have taken a job with a company that doesn't have a family picnic!" Not that you should be paid to picnic, but it does provide some sense of where the values of the company are focused. If you consistently come across information that appears to be disagreeable, devise a few respectful questions in advance so that you will be in a position to gain some insight from the hiring manager without putting him or her on the defensive. Keep in mind: the interviewer works for the company and hopes that you'll see the positive aspects of the organization. Try not to insult the interviewer, regardless of what your concerns might be.

Review your notes and replay the first interview in your mind, recalling those times when the interviewer reacted positively. Try to revisit those topics during the second interview, if possible. Consider, also, those moments that seemed to be less positive and think about how you'll respond when asked the same questions again.

The second interviewer's questions are often similar to those you fielded during the first interview. You are meeting someone new, who has his or her own perspective on what qualities are needed in this position as well as ideas about the structure of the position. Likewise, don't hesitate to ask again a question that you brought up during the first interview. At this stage you need to have a good understanding of what the hiring manager's expectations are. Two good questions to bring to a second interview are these: "If I am successful in this position, what will I have accomplished by this time next year?" or, along the same lines, "How do you see this position evolving over the next two to three years?"

Finally, if a job offer is not made during the second interview, ask what the next steps in the interview process will be. If the position is offered, you have two options for your response: yes, or – I need more information. If you are really uncertain, don't feel pressured to make a decision immediately. Express your enthusiasm for the company or the position, and ask for the information you need to feel comfortable taking the job.

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