In the ideal scenario, when you are pleased with how the first interview went, you have some excellent opportunities to review and provide more detailed information. But what if you get called back for a second interview after an interview that you don’t think went very well – or with a poor interviewer. Then what?
Some of the advice is the same – but it definitely starts with some very different steps. The first step here is to thoroughly review the first interview. Why do you think it did not go well?
- Did you leave the interview thinking there’s no way I’m getting this job – because the interviewer was strongly challenging your qualifications?
- Was the interview short and unfocused – or maybe just a superficial review of your resume?
- Was the interview more of a “sales pitch” by the company – with very few questions even directed at you? Did the interviewer take up the overwhelming majority of the time?
- Were you asked really “bad” questions, like your favorite soup?
A significant possibility you should see here is simple: The interview may have gone poorly from your viewpoint – but not from that viewpoint of the hiring organization. This is not an unlikely possibility for a variety of reasons from the organization just not being very skilled at the hiring process (actually very likely) to their first interviews just being used (poorly) as a short screening device.
Your second interview might just be the first time the process gets serious with a better examination of your qualifications. Alternatively, if you think the interviewer was really challenging you, it may just be that you were begin questioned by a very challenging interviewer – who pushed you but decided you should be brought back for the next round.
On the downside, the poor interview, in your judgment, might be an indication of more significant issues within the company. Maybe this poor interview revealed some things about the organization that tell you this is not a company you really want to work for. Is this situation consistent with other information you’ve gathered about the organization? How did they communicate initially in setting up the interviews? Don’t be too quick to judge an organization on a first interview – in some ways it really is a first impression. The second interview can present an excellent opportunity to validate or challenge any poor impressions from the first interview – plus any interview experience is good practice.
The next steps are the same as with a good experience – Review the Questions and Your Answers from the Interview! It’s likely you left the first interview with 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… ?
Before the second interview is your best opportunity to really prepare in a more focused direction. Now, review your accomplishments and rehearse your short, specific responses for the accomplishments you really want to present. Your responses should be short and include the challenge you faced, the actions you took, and the results you achieved.
If your first interview was poor because the interviewer talked too much or asked what you think were really poor, maybe even inappropriate questions, this second interview is the time to be more assertive and take greater control of the interview. Think about the following scenario: if you only had once chance to present your case, your accomplishment that best represents your abilities for this job, what would it be? Seize a moment, right at the beginning of the interview to seriously present this. With a “storyteller” interviewer, it could be your only choice:
Thank you for asking me back for this second interview. I was thinking about an accomplishment from just the last six months. I was charged with…
If the first interview was more of a sales pitch to you, perhaps based on the company’s assumption that you are clearly qualified for the job (so they don’t need to ask you anything), now it’s your turn to ask critical questions about the job and the company. Look for the early opportunity to ask key questions:
- If I were offered this position, and was very successful accomplishing the most important objectives in the first year (or first six months), what would I accomplish?
- If, after just a few months in this position, I was seen as a very effective contributor to the team, what would be the important leadership (or team) characteristics being shown?
Your preparation can turn even a poor first interview into a situation where you have a better understanding of the position you’re considering and the hiring organization. Thoughtful analysis and preparation are always keys!
This post was originally published on an earlier date.
Favorite Job Interview Questions May Not Be Best – Part 1
Favorite Job Interview Questions May Not Be Best – Part 2
Favorite Job Interview Questions May Not Be Best – Part 3
Favorite Job Interview Questions May Not Be Best – Part 4
About the author
Jim Schreier is a management consultant with a focus on management, leadership, including performance-based hiring and interviewing skills. Visit his website at www.farcliffs.com.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here.
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