Friday, 09 December 2016

How to Handle Second Interviews

The Lady Recruits consultant Amy Cosgrove talks you through what to expect from second interviews

Written by Amy Cosgrove
Congratulations! You've made it to the second interview. The problem is you answered all the standard questions in the first interview, so what should you expect from the second? This week we are going to cover the differences between first and second interviews and why you should approach them differently.

At the second stage the competition is more intense, the company already knows that you could do the job- what they are trying to asses now is if you are their first choice. The first interview is usually with a member of HR or a hiring manger whereas in the second you are likely to meet heads of department. This stage is all about fit; would you work well with other team members and suit the working environment? If you are being interviewed by a new panel, be prepared to cover old ground- re-visit the notes that you made for your first interview. Be honest with yourself about the questions you struggled with the first time around, don't make the same mistake twice!

When preparing for a second (or even third) interview the main question you need to ask yourself is- why me? What sets you apart from your competitors and makes you special? In order to answer this question you need to identify the key attributes that are required to succeed in this role and provide evidence that you have them. The job description is your best friend here as it is likely that they have already specified the attributes they are looking for. For instance if they require somebody with excellent customer service skills, don't just say you're great with customers- back it up by describing a time that you have gone above and beyond your duties for a customer at work.
As the main aim of a second interview is to get to know you, expect behavioural and competency based questions as employers know that how you behaved in the past is an excellent indication of how you are likely to behave in the future. Again, this is about gathering evidence. On the run up to the interview, have a good think about what your 'interview stories' are, around ten- fifteen different scenarios that you have encountered in your work or personal life that highlight your skills. Use the STAR technique explained in a previous post to keep your answers structured; Situation, Task, Action and Result.

TLR Exercise:
Try to think of a real life example to answer these questions and explain your answer using the STAR technique
• Describe a situation where you have worked well in a team
• Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond your duties for a customer or client
• Describe a time when you overcame a problem
• Tell me about a time that you failed
• Tell me about a time that you had to make a difficult decision
• Explain a situation in which you have led a team
• Describe a time when you have had to solve a problem
• Can you think of an example of a time when you have encountered conflict in the work place and how did you handle it?
• Provide me an example of a time when you motivated and encouraged others
• What has been your greatest contribution in your current role?

Another common theme of second interviews is asking questions that dig around your career goals and aspirations. The Interviewer wants to ensure that you're not going to move on after only a short time in the job and that you are fully committed to the role. You need to ask yourself this question before the interview- starting a new job is a big commitment and you need to establish if the role is going to help you to get where you want to be.

Hopping around does not look good to future employers so it's best for all parties involved if you can commit to the company for at the very least a year. In order to answer the question, research the company and look into career progression and work this into your answer.

Finally, if it hasn't been discussed already it is highly likely that the interviewer will ask you about salary and notice periods to check they are in line with their own expectations. When it comes to pay, be realistic but under no circumstances undersell yourself otherwise you may just end up being offered less than you're worth. Sometimes it is easier to structure this answer by telling them what you are currently earning and go from there. Try to be quite flexible on questions like this in the interview- once you have the security of a job offer it is far easier to negotiate.



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