How the second interview can put you first on the offer list…

If you're fortunate enough to be called in for a second interview, you obviously did well in round one and made the first cut.  Congratulations! That first interview may have been an HR telephone screen or an in-person interview.  The second interview will be with the hiring manager and/or team members to review your qualifications and test for fit. 

From our years of experience, we've found the following tips useful in round two.  Follow them, and you'll have done your very best to prepare yourself for an offer!

Don't Be Cocky!  You're Not One of Them Yet.  It's human nature to feel proud of your advancement to the second stage in the interview process.  But remember, you're not there yet!  It's very foolish to take a cocky attitude into your second interview.  There's a difference between cocky and confident.  You can be confident of your skills and may think you're a good fit, but they must also feel the same way for you to close the deal.  As we suggested to you in our tips for the first interview, make sure you're respectful of everyone you meet, from the parking attendant, to the security team, to the receptionist. Any missteps will be relayed to the hiring manager(s).  You can be confident, but a little humility goes a long way!

Research, Research, Research.  You've made a connection with the employer in your first interview, now you must make that same connection with those you meet in your second interview. 

You've already visited the company's website, but refresh your memory.  Go to the "Press Room" area of the website to ensure you're aware of any news the company may have announced since your first visit.  Knowledgeable statements about the company, based on your research, will always impress.

Go to your interviewers' LinkedIn page to find any connections you may have with them.  Did your interviewer ever work for a company that you worked for?  Did you ever live in the same state? Do you like the same sports?  It could be anything - anything that will create a comfortable, and therefore memorable, conversation between you and your interviewer.

Maintain Your Energy and Enthusiasm.  Second interviews can often be quite long, lasting from two hours to all-day affairs.  Although tiring, they give you the chance to stand out from the competition by showing your interest and enthusiasm throughout the entire day.  It's human nature to wane as the day goes on, but push yourself to maintain your energy.  If you'll be there for lunch, try to stretch your legs after you eat.  Keep yourself hydrated as this will help with your energy level.  If you find yourself fading, ask for a bathroom break to stretch your legs, splash your face with water, and take a moment to regroup.   

Lunch/Dinner Interviews.  Be careful about food selection.  I once had an excellent candidate tell me a story about an interview he had with a major insurance company.  The hiring manager invited him to lunch and ordered a salad.  So he ordered a salad. By ordering something light, the candidate also felt it would not weigh on his energy level in the afternoon interviews. He got the job because his skillset was so strong, but after a year in the job, the hiring manager told him that during their lunch, he had a piece of spinach stuck in his front teeth! 

The obvious also bears repeating.  Brush up on your dining skills so that you know which fork and glass to use.  Never order an alcoholic beverage even if the hiring manager offers you the opportunity.  It could be a test.  Remember, when in doubt, leave it out.

Be Prepared to Answer Many of the Same Questions Posed by Different People. Don't make any statements or physical movements that imply boredom. Don't raise your eyebrows or yawn.  Again, don't be cocky. If meeting more than one person, the company may be asking several people to rate you, looking for excuses to whittle down the candidate pool.  Don't give them that opportunity!  You may meet the hiring manager at the beginning or end of the day, so be on your game for everyone you meet.  Junior team members may not be experienced interviewers, but bear with them.  Again, don't give them an opportunity to say anything negative about you.

Use Multiple Interviews to Showcase Your Talent.  Rather than using the same examples to illustrate your skills with each interviewer you meet, be prepared with different examples for each person.  When comparing notes at the end of the day, all interviewers will have a different - yet equally impressive - example of your skillset, which will give your candidacy even more breadth.  Make sure that as you meet people, you get their full name and title so you can reference them in other interviews.  This is always an impressive tactic showing that you remember names and previous conversations with prior interviewers. 

Don't Be Lazy When Interviewed by a Group.  It's common for us to gravitate toward people who make us comfortable.  But remember, your challenge is to engage with each interviewer on the panel not just the one person you seem to connect with.  Connect with all of them!  Be sure to make eye contact with all of them.  Address answers to each of the interviewers so that they all feel that you have made an effort to engage them.  

Be Prepared With Questions of Your Own prior to any interview. Nothing turns off an interviewer more than a candidate who, when prompted, asks no questions at the end of an interview.  On that portfolio you took into the interview, jot down several questions you might ask which will show that you did your homework, are interested in the job and are knowledgeable about the firm.  Questions you might consider include:

  • If you could create the ideal candidate for this position, what would that candidate look like?  (This will give you a good idea of how you compare to the type of person the interviewer has in mind, therefore giving you a good idea if you're a fit or not.)
  • Based on your research, ask a question related to the company or its performance. For example, you might say something like, "I see that you increased your sales by XX percent.  Was that due to the introduction of new products like A, B and C?"
  • I noticed when reviewing your Linked-In profile that you worked at ABC corporation prior to joining this firm. What attracted you to join this firm and how has this experience differed from ABC?
  • I am very interested in this position and feel that this firm is the perfect fit with my background.  What are the next steps in the interview process?  Is there anything else you need from me?

Since you researched each individual on Linked-In, you should have a different question for each person you meet. 

Always remember that your questions should be about how you can add value to the firm and not about what the firm can do for you.  So, it's  equally useful to know what you shouldn't ask:

  • How much vacation time will I get?
  • Can I work from home?
  • What is the 401 (k) match?

There will be plenty of time to discuss these items later.  Your job now is to get the job.

Thank Your Interviewer(s) for the Second Interview. Make sure you get business cards from every person you meet.If during the course of the day you forget to ask for business cards or it's not possible to get them, your McIntyre recruiter can help. Try to make the thank-you notes relevant to the conversation you had with each person and reiterate your interest in the position and how you meet or exceed requirements.If you forgot to mention something important in your second interview, take this opportunity to weave it into your thank-you note.Proofread the note before mailing or e-mailing it.Have others proofread it, too.If your thank-you has typos, you would have been better off sending nothing at all.

Be sure to also read our First Interview Tips, Skype Interview Essentials and Phone Interview Tips.