Let’s begin with the ideal scenario. Based on your own preparation, this is a position at an organization that you’d really like. And you're very pleased with how the first interview went. Now, what about this second interview? Is it with the same person from Human Resources, or the same hiring manager, or is with someone new? Related: Interview Preparation Is More Than Just Practice For any situation the first step is the same – review the questions and your answers from the interview! The likelihood is very high that you left the first interview with one, if not all, of the following:
- “I wish I would have answered that question about ___ differently.”
- “I wish I would have used my accomplishment at ___ instead of…”
- “Why didn’t they ask me about my work at…?
Rehearse Your AnswersBefore the second interview is your best opportunity to really prepare in a much more focused direction. Even if the second interview is with another person, you know what information you’ve already provided. You know more about the company and its culture, even if the second interviewer’s style is completely different. So, now is the time to review your accomplishments and rehearse your short, specific responses for the accomplishments you really want to present. Your prepared responses should be about two minutes long and include the challenge you faced, the actions you took, and the results achieved. You’re practicing for a playing field where you now have some knowledge, which makes it much easier and more focused than the unknown dynamics of most first interviews.
Be AssertiveIn this second interview, you can be more assertive. If the interviewer is the same, you’ll likely be given an opening that references the first interview. Be assertive. Prepare something like the following:
In our first interview, I responded to your question about dealing with difficult customers with a situation I faced working at (fast food restaurant). As a manager for (another company), I had to address an issue that is even more closely related to (the job you’re being considered for).In a good first interview, you might also have been challenged on parts of your experience – definitely if you’ve been interviewed by a well-trained interviewer. That may be rare, but it’s possible you were challenged with a statement about your experience being “not exactly what we’re looking for.” Here’s an example: “You’ve clearly managed a team of 5-6 programmers effectively, but in this position, your team will be much larger.” The second interview offers you the perfect opportunity to present the experience you had managing a larger team – if you’ve had that experience. Or if you haven’t had that experience, it gives you the opportunity to prepare a better example of how you would approach managing a larger team.
Understand You Might Have A New InterviewerUnfortunately, even for a first interview that goes well, there’s a possibility the second interview will be with a different person. One common scenario is that your first interview was with someone from Human Resources and the second interview is with the hiring manager in the department. Another common scenario is the second interview being with another person in the department. And that creates the situation where the second interview is an exact repeat of the first – same questions! In some ways, this is a perfect scenario of your focused preparation. Let’s say you are asked about your “most important accomplishment” is your current (or last) job. First of all, you’ve likely had more than one “important accomplishment” or you only presented some of the details of that accomplishment during the first interview. Reference your answer from the first interview. Here are two possibilities:
“In my first interview, I talked about the project where I developed a marketing plan for a new program. There was another project the year before that also demonstrates what I believe I can accomplish for this company.”
In my first interview, I talked about a situation where I defused a serious conflict that occurred in the department. There are some additional details about that situation that I’d like to offer – some things that really show the complexity of the situation I managed.