Second Stage Interview Preparation

Introduction

Second stage interviews are becoming the norm despite the level of the role being interviewed for as businesses are under more pressure to get the appointment right the first time. Often the second interview is going beyond the technical capability and looking more at your fit with the team. If you are fortunate to have been invited back for the second interview, it is safe to say, you clearly met their expectations and the employer is seriously considering you for the role. However, it also means that you have everything to loose if you get it wrong! The second stage is to really scrutinise the best candidates and make a final decision on who best suits the role.

But what is different this time, what should you expect and how should you prepare? These are the questions you need to ask yourself beforehand and with the correct preparation, you will be in a great place to be accepting a job offer before too long.

How does a second interview differ from a first stage?

A first stage interview is generally used to test your technical understanding and basic competencies. It is likely it will delve into your career history and to generally get a feel as to whether your personality would be a good fit. The line of questioning will commonly be aligned to your CV stressing the importance to have a CV which demonstrates your achievements and projects you have been engaged in so that as interview these can be expanded upon. You will likely have been asked to share a bit about yourself, what motivates you, how you work within a team and will have had the chance to ask questions of your own. Having been invited back for a second interview you can safely assume that you answered these questions satisfactorily and that you impressed the interview panel. They are already picturing you in the role but have some further questions to challenge if you are the best and most suited candidate from others they may also be inviting back for the second interview before they are ready to offer you the role.

The second interview is designed to ascertain what separates you from the other candidates they are considering. The second interview will look to work out what your working style is, what specific abilities and experience you have that will allow you to succeed, and, will most likely address any question marks they had about you from the first interview. You may also meet with other members of the team, those who you will potentially be working closely with or who you will be directly influencing. Furthermore, many second stage interviews require you to prepare a presentation, a report or something which challenges you to demonstrate your ability to understand a situation and provide a logical solution. Often there is no right or wrong way of answering such presentation but often this is testing your ability to present with a clear ‘introduction,‘ a well-executed ‘main body’ and finally presenting a solid ‘conclusion.’

 

What can be expected?

Expect to be challenged. The second interview can often feel slightly more intense than the first round. This is partly due to the fact that you may feel closer to landing the job and therefore the stakes are raised, but also because the interviewer will look to challenge you, perhaps put pressure on you, all in a bid to see how you cope. They will have identified some weaknesses they saw in the first stage and ask you further questions in that area. This is to gauge how you react, how you respond and whether or not you can show them you have the ability, desire and passion/want for this role!

You may also be asked to prepare a presentation or piece of work prior to the meeting ready to present it in front of the panel. For example, in an accounting role, you may be asked to present back on a forecast and provide a commentary or provide a general report on a set of data they have provided. Whatever you are asked to produce it is sure to be closely aligned with the remit of the job you are interviewing for and gives you an excellent opportunity to showcase your skills and your understanding of the company.

 

How should you prepare?

Preparation is key for any interview you undertake but for a second stage, it is paramount. You will need to show that you have a strong understanding of the business, their operational goals, their core values and ultimately how you are a good fit. Research as much as you can about the business using sources like companies house, linkedIn, news articles, company websites etc.. If you can show that you understand the business, the people working there and show how you will fit in and add value you will be on the right steps to showing them that you are the person for the job.

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