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How to ace your second job interview

Getting it right the second time involves a different line of questions and answers.

How to ace your second job interview

Steve Langerud is a workplace consultant who regularly coaches job seekers from entry level to the C-suite on second-round interviews. He worked with a mid-level candidate seeking a position as executive director of a prominent arts organization. During her interview, she asked the board why they weren’t engaging donors.

She used that information in her second interview, he says. She approached the board by saying, "I'm here to discover what keeps you up at night. Then we'll talk about whether or not I can help you,” which provided a platform for honest dialogue that led to her presenting three key strategies she could implement.  

“She got the job and is thriving,” Langerud says.

Second interviews mean the organization likes you — and they’re a very popular topic of discussion based on the popularity of our 8 ways to ace your second job interview article. Here are some tips on how you can succeed in your second job interview.

Prepare for more people

The second interview usually entails a follow-up conversation with any key stakeholders that you likely met in the first interview, such as your future boss, says Noelle Gross, founder and CEO of NG Career Strategy. “You can also expect to meet future team members or even senior leadership. The hiring manager will be weighing his or her colleagues’ opinions so continue to focus on being your best you and creating positive impressions with everyone you meet.”

Ask the right questions

Include questions that envision you in the job, Sarikas says, such as, “How would I be evaluated at the end of the first year in this role?” “What key success measures would you expect me to achieve in this role?”

Tailor your comments

As you meet a wider array of people, understand that you would be working with them in different ways, Gross says. “Focus your questions around getting to know each stakeholder very strategically based on these areas of engagement,” she says. Ask future team members how you would be working with each other and what their ideal team member brings to the table. “For a senior stakeholder, ask questions around his or her vision for you in the role as well as the bigger picture company goals.”

Talk about them, not you

It’s important to highlight how you would be a good fit, but make it about the organization and its needs, says organizational sociologist Jim Ice. During the interview, be sure to tie everything to the company's needs — how your experience can help them meet their needs and achieve their goals, for example.

Pay attention to culture

They know you have the skills — but will you fit? Before you go into the interview, research everything you can about the organizational culture, says Lynne Sarikas, executive director of the MBA career center at Northeastern University. And when you’re on site, pay attention.  “Most people can behave in an interview. Watch how employees interact with each other while you are waiting,” she advises. Doing so can provide clues about the organization’s culture.

See if they have reservations

Sarikas encourages candidates to be brave and ask the interviewer whether the company has any reservations or concerns about you as a candidate. “It gives you a chance to rebut their concerns and leave them with more positive thoughts,” she says.