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The second interview: what to expect

over 4 years ago by Claire Smith

​Congratulations, you’ve been offered a second interview. That means that not only has your CV done its job, but your personality and communication skills have impressed the recruiter enough to invite you back for the next stage.

They're certainly interested in you and you've convinced them that you have the core skills they're looking for.

So what should you expect in your second interview? What are they key differences and what questions are likely to be asked?

This stage is bound to be a little more tricky, where the employer digs deeper than they have previously.

Here are a few things to remember when going for your second interview:

Don’t be afraid to show your personality

It’s likely that other candidates you are competing against have the same, or a very similar, skill set to yourself. Now your interview knows that you’re capable of doing the job, they will want see something more, something which makes you stand out.

Try to engage in some general conversation before the interview starts. Look to create a friendly or light-hearted, but always professional, atmosphere that allows your personality to shine through.

Remember you still need to sell yourself and make sure they know what you can offer them. The interviewer has not yet made a decision, they are intrigued but are not 100 per cent confident, so tell them why you’re different and why it is this job specifically that you want.

Be prepared - get feedback

Andrew Fitzmaurice, Managing Director of MorePeople, commented: “MorePeople has a high ‘conversion rate’ from second interview stage to job offer. Obviously it helps when you have started with the right opportunity and a great candidate in the first place, but the reason we have a lot of success at this stage is because our candidates and clients are well prepared.”

“If you can get meaningful feedback from the first interview then you can use it to your advantage at the second stage. If you know the positive reasons the client liked you then you can show off these strengths again.”

“If you are brave enough to ask for areas of concern with your first interview then you can tackle these head on – there’s no point hiding from the difficult truths.”

Senior members of staff

In your first interview, you will probably be questioned by someone in HR and maybe the person who will manage you should you get the role.

However, in your second interview, you may meet more senior members of staff, those who will be working alongside you or directors. Don’t let this intimidate you: this isn’t a bad thing, it shows they are serious about potentially hiring you.

A second interview should also last longer than your first one, as the employer will really want to find out all they can about you. If you’re meeting new staff you may also find that you will be repeating yourself with general questions like ‘Tell me about yourself’ or ‘Why do you want this role?’, to see if you will fit into the culture of the office.

Testing your knowledge

One of the key differences you are likely to encounter at this stage will be the nature of the questions you'll face. The first interview was probably more about getting to know you and about your experience. Here you are more likely to face 'competency based' questions. These are designed to see how well you have coped in the past with actual situations and also evaluate how you think and rationalise problems.

Sometimes you can be given actual tasks or exercises to do. So if you’re going for a food science position, you may be asked about public policy issues in this area, if you’re going for a role which is strategy based, you may be given a problem solving question with only a limited amount of time to work it out.

Quite often you'll also be asked to prepare something in advance, such as a short presentation or review of their products or markets. This is again a good test to show if you can actually back up the claims you've made about your experience and skills at the first stage.

Prepare questions

It is you who is being interviewed, but this is also an opportunity for you to find out more about the company and whether or not this is definitely a position you would like to take, should you be offered it. In the second interview, both parties are much more interested in digging deeper, so it’s natural for you to also ask more questions than your first interview.

Make sure you prepare questions which show that you have considered this role and their business thoroughly. Whether you've been asked to do a presentation or not it's always a good idea to do some research, not just on the business and their products, but also their market, their customers, their competitors etc. It shows you are a serious player, that you are interested in them and what they do.

It also looks good if you can bring suggestions and ideas to the table, even if they need more thought or perhaps wouldn’t be suitable. The fact that you have ideas and are willing to put them forward shows your creative side.

Not many employers deliberately ask trick questions but you will need to listen properly and give considered replies to carefully-worded ones. They may ask something like ‘If you could, what would you change about the company?’, which provides you with a chance to show that you’ve researched the organisation. But don’t criticise and then fail to offer a solution, back your answer up with facts to show how you've arrived at your point of view.

End on a positive note

Go in with confidence, you’ve done well to get this far. When the interview is over, smile and thank your interviewers. You’ve done all you can and now it’s over to them.

It’s unlikely that you’ll be successful in every interview you have and building resilience is a great asset to have in business in general, so take it on the chin if you don’t get the role, and learn from the experience for next time.

MorePeople are always happy to hear from anyone interested in pursuing a career in the Fresh Produce, Food, Agriculture, Horticulture and Garden & Leisure sectors. Please feel free to email us via or call 01780 480530 for a chat about your CV and career with one of our sector specialists.