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Top Tips for a Second Job Interview

Great news you’ve been invited back for the second interview!! You can feel positive that you’ve demonstrated enough to get you back in to meet with the next person in the process.

What and how you prepare for second stage very much depends on who conducted the first stage interview and the format of the interview. It’s not good to try to second guess or assume – so if possible ask lots of questions about the format and style and who you will be meeting.

Business Meeting

Many candidates make the mistake of thinking the second stage is just a “formality” and as a result may get a little complacent about preparing as much as they did for the first stage - particularly if they are called back to meet with HR. For some reason candidates think that meeting HR is just a tick box exercise and go into the interview ill prepared. Some HR departments have very good partnerships with the business and therefore can be very influential in the decision making process.

Related: The 5 Worst Things to Mention at an Interview

The Hiring Manager Interview



If your first interview was with HR then you may have gone through a behavioural competency style interview. In my experience there are fewer hiring managers that use behavioural competencies in as much depth as the recruitment specialist. Hiring managers are more likely to stick to traditional styles of interviewing such as talking through your CV and asking general technical or job related questions to understand your experience, knowledge and skills.

Be aware that it is very likely if HR interviewed you at first stage the hiring manager will have a written report on what was shared at first stage or at least had a detailed conservation to highlight how you performed against predetermined behavioural competencies. So if this is the case you’ll want to talk about different examples to the hiring manager than you did with the in-house recruiter. This will demonstrate your breadth and depth of experience – otherwise you could damage all the good work done at first stage by repeating the same information.

Hiring managers are likely to ask you about your greatest achievements and your strengths and weaknesses, so it’s essential you prepare your answers. Write down two or three achievements in detail using the STAR process (situation, task, action and result). Write down three or four strengths and do the same for the weaknesses. Make sure you don’t talk yourself out of the job by highlighting weaknesses that are essential requirements for the job or a mismatch with the corporate culture.

Hopefully you had an opportunity to ask questions about the job, the team and the organisation at first stage. The answers to those questions will give you great information to help you understand the requirements and prepare for second stage. Make sure you’ve asked questions about the particular challenges of the job, what the main objectives will be in the first 6 to 12 months, projects and specific tasks. You can then use this information to craft your examples for second stage to demonstrate you have the ability to manage such projects and are capable of dealing with those challenges in the future.

Related: Top 10 Things to Mention in an Interview

The HR Interview



If you met with the hiring manager at first stage and the next interview is with HR – find out if you are meeting a HR Manager or a specialist HR Recruiter. They may have a different style of interviewing.

HR Recruiters are usually highly trained in different interview techniques and very experienced at assessing candidates against specific competencies. Typically in-house recruiters will interview using behavioural competencies and will be asking you to provide specific examples from your working history – use the STAR method to prepare your examples.

Review the job description again and specifically focus on the behavioural competencies for the job you are applying and think of occasions when you have demonstrated positive evidence of these behaviours. It’s essential that you take time to prepare – don’t try to “wing it”. In my experience candidates tend to talk too much about the situation and give little detail or attention to the tasks, actions and results. They also tend to generalise and HR recruiters will not be impressed if you don’t have specific examples to share.

HR managers may not have been trained specifically in interview techniques and often interview very differently to specialist recruiters. HR managers are likely to go over your CV in some depth and detail. The HR manager will be interested in the reasons for you moving from one job to another – this will give them great insight to your decision making processes and motivation. Make sure you are clear and concise about your reasons for changing jobs.

Related: How to Overcome Nervousness in a Job Interview

If you don’t spend time preparing for the different types of questions then your body language may say more than the words you use and the HR Manager will easily spot these non-verbal signs. You’ll need to be able to confidently back up all the claims on your CV and explain or justify any gaps between jobs. This may sound obvious to many people reading this post however, you’ll be surprise how many candidates think they can exaggerate their achievements and skills on their CV or even lie about their qualifications.

According to Hire Right a leading global provider of background screening solutions, 2 in 5 applications contain false information. Don’t be a statistic and make sure you are only including information, qualifications and achievements you can prove and demonstrate.

Most large organisations will conduct a thorough background check – so you won’t be able to get away with excuses like “All my certificates are up in the attic!!” You probably won’t even need to produce certificates these days as companies such as Hire Right will have other means and methods to prove qualifications.

General Tips



Do ask some basic questions, where, when, who and what is the style or format of interview?
Do ask if this is the final stage and how many other candidates have been invited back?

Don’t be complacent at second stage – this may not be a “formality”. You need to prepare and research in more depth at this stage than you did at first stage.

Don’t be overly confident as if you’ve already landed the job!! You may not be the only candidate progressing to second stage.

Do your research – be very specific in your research about the key challenges for the company and the department the position sits. At first stage you’ve probably reviewed the website for general information but at second stage go into a little more depth and use information you gathered at first stage to craft your answers.

Do ask if you need to bring anything to the second stage?

Do ask for specific feedback from the first stage? This will help you step up and polish your performance for second stage or address any concerns the recruiters may have had from the first stage.
Remember they liked what you had to share at first stage and this is very positive. Reflect on your performance objectively and polish the positive behaviour and improve on the areas you think you could do better.

Good luck landing the job!!

photo by: pressebox

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