Second Interview

You've done well with your first round of interviews. You were hoping for a job offer. Instead, you get a request to come in to meet with "the team" again. Again? Yes, again.

Many employers use a second round of interviews to make the hiring decision for finalist candidates. Don't take it as a negative and don't get worn down by the thought of having to go through the interview gauntlet again. The second round interviews will be the make-or-break on whether or not you get the job.

Second round interviews are different in that they are reserved exclusively for finalists. While the employer may interview 5, 10 or even 20 different people in the first round interviews, the second round interviews are reserved for the finalists for the role. While the number may vary by employers, it is usually in the 2 to 5 range. Some employers may bring in only one candidate at a time for second round interviews, so just the invite to the second round may mean that you are the chosen candidate. Unless, of course, you blow it in the second round.

When you are invited for the second round of interviews, always ask whom you will be meeting with during the interviews. Although some employers do not give out this information until the day of the interviews (when you are onsite), most employers are willing to give out the information, yet you need to ask. Second round interviews are most notable for having higher level interviewers. So while you may have met with several peer-level employees and perhaps one or two people above your level in the first round, the second round interviewers are typically those at a level or two above the role. If you haven't yet met the hiring manager for the role, s/he will definitely be in this round. It's also a good possibility that you may be meeting your boss' boss, who, in combination with the hiring manager, has ultimate influence on who will be hired into the role. The other interviewers are typically peers of the hiring manager along with other key individuals for whom the role will provide support and/or influence. It is part of the experience of reaching consensus on the part of the employer.

If you have the names of the interviewers in advance of the second round, do your homework. Research each person in advance by Googling them. The good news in finding these interviewers is that they are likely to be at a higher level than your first round interviewers and therefore more likely to be findable in a Google search. You should not give away to the interviewer that you researched them in advance (since it could look like cyberstalking), but you can use the information to tailor your presentation to be more specific to the needs of the interviewer. This includes both professional as well as personal items you may discover.

For example, if you find out that one of the interviewers is a member of a professional association of which you are also a member, it is entirely appropriate to weave a mention of your membership into your interview discussions. Even better would be if you have an above-and-beyond example of your involvement with the association (such as being a board member for a local chapter or speaking at an association convention).

An example of helpful personal information (although be careful in this area) would be finding that the person goes back to their hometown each summer to participate in a charity golf tournament. If you have a connection with either the charity (again, above-and-beyond involvement is best) or even if you are a golfer (and can weave into your discussion a story about a recent golf outing), these type of stories and examples can potentially help you in building a personal connection with the interviewer.

Remember throughout all of your interviews to strive to set yourself apart from other candidates by using behavioral examples to back up your statements. Weave in the compelling stories that will be memorable and give the interviewer the information needed to assess your skills for performing the role.

At the end of the second round of interviews, your objective is to leave each interviewer with a clear impression that: a) you can do the job (and do it well); b) that you are someone with whom they would enjoy working; and c) that there is a fit with the corporate culture. Ask for a business card at the end of each interview and make sure you follow up that evening with a personal note to each interviewer, thanking for his/her time and reiterating your interest in the role.

You're almost there. The second round will be the make-or-break for whether you get the job offer. Make the most of this opportunity!