How to keep the momentum going
The interview process at many organizations is not limited to a single interview. Multiple interviews are common and can occur for numerous reasons. Career author Chandra Prasad notes that some of these reasons include having the candidate meet key people not met in the initial interview. Sometimes the initial interview is a screening interview with an organization’s human resources department, while the next interview is with the hiring manager who will presumably be the candidate’s supervisor if hired.
Sometimes the first interview is with the hiring manager, while a subsequent interview is with that manager’s boss, who wants final say over hiring decisions. As Prasad points out, various interviewees may scrutinize the candidate for different criteria; one might look at the applicant’s technical skills, while another may assess his/her “fit” with the organization. Other reasons that Prasad lists for subsequent interviews:
Interviewers do not reach consensus about the candidate and need another look.
Job is offered to top candidate but declined, so interviewers take another look at next people on the list.
Interviewee seems qualified, but interviewer is concerned with one or more aspects of the candidate.
Employer decides candidate is not suited for position applied for but wants to interview him or her for a different position. It’s gratifying to be called for a second or subsequent interview because you are another step closer to the job. Don’t blow it now! The key factor in subsequent interviews is to keep your energy level and enthusiasm up. Don’t rest on your laurels or tell yourself that just because you’ve been called back is a reason to be overconfident. Treat each interview like a new beginning where there is just as much on the line as there was for your first interview. Some additional guidelines follow:
- Do take a practice run to the location where you are having the interview — or be sure you know exactly where it is and how long it takes to get there.
- Do pat yourself on the back for being called for a second interview. While some career experts say your chances are 1 in 4 to get the job at this point, others say you have as much as a 50 percent chance. Even with the field narrowing, it’s important to distinguish yourself and ensure that you stand out above your competition.
- Do remember these three words: More, More, More. Compared to the first interview, a second interview will likely involve more preparation, more people, more questions, more intensity, and more pressure — in addition to more likelihood that you will land the job.
- Don’t neglect to review your performance from your first interview. Note any questions or situations that caused you difficulty and plan how you will handle those aspects better in the second interview. Derive confidence from knowing that if you hadn’t performed well in the first interview, you wouldn’t have landed the second. Think about what made you shine in the first interview, and plan to do more of the same. Further, brainstorm new information you can bring into the second interview — new accomplishments, new examples, new evidence of how much you know about the employer.
- Do prepare — even more than you did for the first interview. Presumably you researched the company before the first interview. Now it’s time to delve even deeper into that research using our Guide to Researching Companies, Industries, and Countries. Some experts suggest that talking with company insiders is one of the most productive ways to prepare for a second interview. Before your second interview, consider conducting informational interviews with company folks who aren’t the ones who’ll be interviewing you. Consult our Informational Interviewing Tutorial to learn more. If you are a college student, particularly seek out alumni from your school or sorority/fraternity who work for the employer. Also be sure you’re up to date on developments in your field or industry by reviewing trade publications.
- Don’t be surprised if the second interview is actually a series of interviews — in both individual and group/panel formats — making for a long day. You may interview with managers, senior executives, department heads, and prospective team members. You may also get a tour of the workplace and be taken out to eat. For college students, this second-interview day may represent the first time the student has been interviewed in the employer’s workplace. Plan to bring ample copies of your resume for all the people you may be meeting with. Read more in our article, Mastering the On-Site Interview: A Guide to Company Visits.
- Do try to find out in advance exactly what the agenda will be and whom you can expect to interview with. If you aren’t given this information when the interview is set up, contact the assistant of the main person with whom you’ll be meeting to see what you can find out. If you see that a workplace tour is not included on the agenda, ask if someone can show you around as time permits.
- Don’t forget the cardinal rule of panel interviews: As you respond to a question, maintain eye contact with everyone on the panel — not just the panelist who asked the question.
- Do be up on business dining etiquette if you are asked to dine with representatives of the prospective employer.