My coach used to say that a team wins playoffs by doing what they do well better. The same applies to the second round of interviews: the post season. You had to earn some victories to get there so you can feel confident in your standing, but you must now play better than you ever have before. How will these conversations be different and how can you prepare to seal the deal?
Review the tapes
Good teams devote time to watching tapes of their old games to identify and correct mistakes, and analyze what was working and how. Reflect on your first interview. What points did they seem most responsive to or impressed by? How can you expand on these and delve deeper? Were there certain questions you wished you answered differently or ideas you didn’t have an opportunity to introduce? The second interview gives you an opportunity to improve upon the first.
Practice, practice, practice
There is still preparation to be done this time around as not only will you be speaking with different people, but you must also prepare questions that will help you make your own decision. Consult anyone in your network who has worked at this company, or works there currently to learn more about the culture and the people you will be speaking with. Continue to follow news alerts about the company and stay up to date on developments in your field. “Show that you’ve been a student of the company,” Megan Bole, senior manager of talent acquisition, told Forbes.
Know the other players
While the people interviewing you are in no way the “opposing team,” it is good to learn as much about them as you can so as to find any points of connection and demonstrate your sincere interest. For some companies, the second round is a marathon day where candidates meet with their potential boss, senior-level employees and peers. You can ask for a roster of whom you will be meeting with if one is not provided. In some of those conversations, there may be multiple people in the room and it’s important to make eye contact with everyone as you respond- not just the person who asked you the question. Though your initial conversation was likely with an HR person, the people you speak with this time around may not be master interviewers. Hopefully they will be prepared and excited to speak with you, but see here on how to deal when that is not the case.
Revise your playbook
Though some of the content from your first conversation may come up again, the questions this time around will likely focus more on the specifics of the role. Be ready for some case questions (“What would you do if…”) and also behavioral questions that get at your management style and ability to deal with certain kinds people and situations. You may be asked for a rough plan of what you would hope to do in the first year of this position. It is good to think about this in detail before the interview and come in with a few concrete ideas and ways to implement them.
Play with heart
Remember that this day is an opportunity for you to get to know the company too. Take in as much information as you can about the staff and working environment and be honest with yourself as you imagine going to work there every day. Ask yourself: Is this a job I would be excited to wake up for? Will I like working with these people? Does it sound like there are opportunities to advance my career here? Take advantage especially of any opportunity to speak with other employees and learn what you can from their experiences. Though this can be a long day, use care and kindness in all your interactions – from the person who schedules the interview to the receptionist who greets you.
Above all, enter this round with confidence in your candidacy. If the first conversation convinced them of your technical competency for the role, the second round is where your personality, goals, lifestyle, and experience can demonstrate that you are the only choice for this position at this company. Next week I’ll finish this series with some thoughts on the task and final meetings. The job is almost yours!
Chaloner, founded in 1979 as Chaloner Associates, is a national executive search firm that focuses on recruiting mid- to senior-level communications, public relations, marketing and investor relations professionals.