Second Interview style

Congratulations – you’ve got a second interview. Now what are you feeling? Relief, fear or maybe both? Jacky Carter of Hays Personnel provides her expert tips for clearing this final hurdle.

Those first few moments after you’ve heard that you’ve secured a second interview can be filled with an extraordinary array of conflicting emotions.

The first wave of happiness, relief and general self-congratulation slowly ebbs away leaving you with the realisation that another and bigger hurdle must now be faced.

Ultimately, you might find the news completely daunting, especially if the interview is with a prestigious company for a role that you really want.

First interview versus second interview: what is the difference?

The Human Resources department normally conducts the first interview. They are checking out your academic background, skills base and experience to see that they tie in with your resume.

A second interview could follow one of a few different formats and it is important to try and find out which one before attending that all-important meeting.

You may be meeting with one person such as your direct report. Or you could be meeting several staff members in a panel interview or even in a series of one-to-one interviews.

Preparing for a second interview

Walking into an interview knowing you’ve done your homework will give you confidence, as you’ll know there is less chance for any surprises.

Your preparation should concentrate on all the practical and intellectual aspects of the interview.

Practical aspects include:

    • Finding out the names and titles of the interviewers prior to meeting with them.
    • Check when and where the interview is and make sure you know how to get there.
    • Remember to take all relevant phone numbers in case your plans change unexpectedly.

Pay attention to grooming and dress sense as first impressions count for so much. Always wear a suit unless the environment is particularly informal.

  • Take with you a copy of your resume and a pen and paper. Don’t assume the interviewer will have a copy of your resume from your first visit.
  • Make sure you pick up business cards of those interviewing you so that you can write thank you letters.


Intellectual aspects include:

  • Building on the information you researched first time around about the industry, the company and your potential role. You can do this by reading industry publications, news articles, the company’s web site and annual report.
  • Get to know the company by reading about its mission statement, goals, business philosophy and management style.
  • Learn about what your potential employer needs from the role on offer so you can relate your skills, interests and experiences in a way that meets those needs.
  • Speak to anyone you know working in the same industry – especially anyone familiar with the company. The knowledge you glean from such conversations and the fact you have gone to this trouble often impresses employers.
February 18, 2003

Second interview style continued

Lines of questioning

Think back to your first interview. What main areas did they concentrate on? Be prepared for the focus on these areas to be even more intensive this time around.Look at the information given to you – brochures, presentations – and be prepared to answer questions based on what you have absorbed from them.

Reflect on what questions were asked during the first interview and which ones you found difficult. Be prepared to answer the same questions again.

Advanced preparation produces stronger responses, even to the traditional questions like: “Why should we give you the job?” and “What can you offer us?” This helps you to show off your communication skills.

General interview tips

Think about what the interviewer is trying to find out from asking a particular question and how you might formulate your answer.

Remember to answer the questions consistently as the interviewer will be making notes.

A second interview gives you the chance to express your ideas rather than simply talking about your skills and experience as you did in the first interview.

Also, be fresh – think of new examples and information when talking about your achievements rather than just providing the same ones again.

Do not let yourself become distracted. Focus and listen carefully to the interviewer at all times.

Other second interview tips include:

  • Remain calm. It’s okay to take a moment or two to think about a question. Don’t get flustered and blurt out the first thing that comes to mind
  • Be brief and to the point
  • Be positive and enthusiastic
  • Know your skills and strengths and express them in a confident way.

Don’t miss Part Two of this essential guide to second interview style – coming soon!

Story by Kate Southam, editor of CareerOne. Go to for more career related articles. Job hunting and workplace questions can be directed to CareerOne by emailing:

February 18, 2003