The Second Interview: Top 10 Questions and Answers

Man interviewing for job

Job interviews can often feel like boxing matches: your opponent (in this case, the interviewer) keeps swinging punches (questions) at you left, right and centre, and it’s up to you to dodge them and hit back (with impressive answers).

You’re probably reading this article because you’ve made it through Round 1 of your very own ‘boxing match’, and you’re now getting ready for Round 2. But how do you maintain the same performance that landed you a second interview to land a job offer?

The answer is simple: preparation – careful and diligent preparation.

To help you bag the job you’re interviewing for, we’ve put together the 10 most common questions that are bound to come up in a second interview, along with tips and advice on how to answer them.

But first: before we dive straight into the most common second interview questions, let’s take a quick look at the difference between first and second interviews (and, yes, there is a difference.)

You see, beyond bringing you one step closer to the job you’ve applied for (and, therefore, turning the pressure up a notch or two), second interviews are generally used to determine what separates you from other candidates and what your technical abilities are. First interviews, on the other hand, typically look at your personality and basic abilities.

Chances are your second interview will be with the same person who interviewed you the first time around – which is good news as you’ve, hopefully, already built some form of rapport with them. They will, however, most likely be joined by a manager, department head or other decision-maker.

On a side note, second interviews aren’t always the last stage of a company’s screening process. Some companies, especially when torn between two or more candidates, will often arrange third and fourth meetings, and you may even be invited in for a group interview.

Now, without further ado, here are 10 questions you should anticipate in a second interview:

1. ‘What makes you want to work here?’

Resist the urge to respond with: ‘Because I need a job and you guys are offering good money’ – however true that may be. Instead, use your research into the company to answer this question. ‘Company ABC has a wonderful reputation for being a great place to work. A former colleague of mine works here, and I’ve seen how much value you place on employees and encourage them to learn, grow and innovate inside the company.’

2. ‘What makes you NOT want to work here?’

This isn’t an invitation to start attacking the company– it’s actually a great opportunity to ask the interviewer anything you need clarifying. For example, you could say something like: ‘From what I’ve seen so far, Company ABC is a really great environment to work in. However, my only reservation at the moment is that I’ve only seen limited training and development opportunities. Would this be something you would be willing to consider offering as part of the job?’

3. ‘Are there any questions from the first interview that you’d like to answer again?’

Let’s face it: we’ve all at some point left an interview thinking ‘I shouldn’t have answered that question like that’ – and here’s a unique opportunity to redeem yourself. If you’ve recalled some important details since the last interview, mention them now if you think they will help you influence the hiring manager’s decision for the better.

4. ‘What would you change about the company?’

Again, don’t start attacking the company. Instead, identify a problem and provide a solution. For example, ‘I found that the registration process on your website is very long and I imagine a lot of users would be put off by this. I think that if you shortened the form slightly you could increase user registrations.’

5. ‘Do you prefer to work alone or as part of a team?’

The trick here is to show that you’re able to work both on your own and as part of a team. The best answer here would be something along the lines of: ‘I enjoy both. I can work independently to complete my tasks on time, but I also enjoy collaborating and brainstorming with my colleagues’.

6. ‘Can you tell me a little bit more about your current/most recent job?’

Remember: the interviewer’s not asking you to repeat your CV’s employment history section – they’re actually hoping you’ll expand a little bit on a couple of your current/most recent role’s duties and responsibilities. Also, whatever you do, now’s not the time to start b*tching about the job or your employer (in fact, it’s never the time to do that in an interview).

7. ‘What is your ultimate career goal?’

Don’t try to be funny here by saying something like: ‘Your job’! Interviewers generally ask this question to determine whether you’re looking to develop your career or if you only see the job as a steppingstone to another job company. This means that you should focus on the employer and how you will add value to the company through the achievement of your own short-term and long-term goals. You can begin your answer with something like: ‘My current, short-term goal is to develop and use my marketing and communications skills in a job similar to this one.’

8. ‘What are your salary expectations?’

Before you even go to your first interview, check out salary sites like Glassdoor and PayScale to find out what the going rate is for jobs in your field and geographical location, and use this information to negotiate salary and perks. Always provide a range that’s based on your market value and current salary, and make sure you decide beforehand on the lowest number you’re willing to accept. Also, don’t be the first one to mention salary!

9. ‘Have you thought of any other questions since our last meeting?’

This is a great opportunity to ask anything that you need clarification on, so make sure that you take advantage of it. Just as you did for your first interview, prepare a list of questions to ask the interviewer and things that occurred to you after you left the company premises the last time.

10. ‘What’s your notice period?’

Just because they’re asking you about your notice period doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to offer you the job. They simply want to know what would happen if they did. So, hold off writing that resignation letter until you have a solid job offer in hand! In the meantime, simply respond with something along the lines of: ‘I need to provide my current employer with two weeks’ notice if I were to start another job’.

Have you ever attended a second interview? Did any of these questions come up? Perhaps you’ve thought of a couple of other questions that should be included on this list? Join the conversation down below and let us know!