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What are Employers Looking for at the Second Interview?

You rocked your job interview and now you're sitting by the phone waiting for an offer.  When your phone finally does ring, it's the employer inviting you in for another interview.  You are starting to wonder what the point is to all of these interviews.  You told them everything that they need to know at your last interview.  It is starting to feel like they are wasting your time.  Just go with it.  The are several legitimate reasons that an employer may need a second interview.  By being aware of the possible objectives that the employer may have for the second interview, you are more likely to present yourself as the ideal candidate for the job.

To clarify concerns that weren't addressed in the first interview.  The employer may have left your interview with concerns.  For example, they may not be totally convinced that you have the necessary technical skills to do the job, or they may have questions about why you left your last position.  You will know that this is the case if the interviewer immediately starts probing you about a particular concern.  Be direct, be honest and answer the question fully.  If the interviewer feels that you are holding something back, they will be unlikely to hire you.

To choose between two or three candidates.  If the employer has narrowed the pool down to their top two or three candidates, they may be using the second interview to make the final selection.  If you do a good job of demonstrating that your skills are well matched to the position, you will maximize your chances of being selected for the job.

To determine whether you would be a good fit for the organizational culture.  Some interviewers use the first interview to assess your skills and the second interview to evaluate whether you would fit in at the organization.  When the employer takes this approach, the second interview may feel more like an informal conversation.  However, don't let your guard down, this is still very much a job interview and the employer is likely being this friendly to all of the candidates.  The key to success here is to research the organization and to develop a strong understanding of the organizational culture so that you get a good idea of the traits and qualities that the employer is likely seeking.

To get buy-in from a higher level manager or members of the team.  Organizations vary in their hiring procedures.  At some organizations you have to pass through an interview with human resources before you even meet the hiring manager, while at others you may have your first interview with the hiring manager, but you can only be hired after you're approved by the president of the company.  Every company is different.  Just remember that you need to impress each person that you meet.  Don't assume that your last interviewer told them anything about you.  With every interview, you're starting from scratch.

To confirm their first impression of you.  Some people make a great first impression, and it's downhill from there.  Also, when an employer is interviewing a lot of candidates, it can be easy to let their feelings about one candidate sway their opinion of another.  For example, a candidate who interviews horribly may make the next candidate look pretty darn good.  When the employer invites you in for a second interview, they decrease these comparison errors.  Just be sure to stay on track with your key messages and clearly outline how you are the best fit for the job.

Most of us have mixed feelings about the second interview; we are happy that we are still being considered for the job, but we wish that the employer would just hire us already!  The best approach is to take it one step at a time, and to celebrate your small wins.  If you're already getting second interviews then a job offer is just around the corner.

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