Second Interview Tips & Tricks

Sometimes after a great interview, the next step includes a formal job offer. Other times, the next step is a second interview (or even a third or fourth) to help you resolve unanswered questions, or perhaps differentiate between two or three of your top candidates.

Conducting multiple interviews is a strategy that more and more companies are using for various reasons:

  • Sometimes it’s just the company’s culture, having a second interview is simply the way things are done.
  • Other times, having a second interview is a way to gain collective insight about candidates. If the first interview was a one-on-one between candidates and the hiring manager, then the second interview is a way to bring in the whole team.
  • There’s also the matter of maximizing everyone’s time. While some of us may have been involved in multi-hour, multi-day interviews, that’s certainly not everyone’s interview experience. More often than not, it takes a call-back and a second interview to tease out the information you didn’t get during the first meeting.
  • And sometimes the second interview is a way to distinguish between candidates that you can’t decide between.

What format should the second interview take?

In many cases, the format for your second interview will depend on how you structured your first. For instance, if your first interview was a one-on-one between the hiring manager and the candidates, then maybe you want your candidates to meet with potential coworkers when they come back. On the other hand, if they met with a group during their first interview, then the second interview is a ripe time to sit down with them one-on-one.

While the multi-phased interview process is meant to help you make your ultimate hiring decision, some companies get so focused on the answers that they lose sight of the questions the candidates are asking. And sometimes, candidates’ questions can provide the final glimpse you need as you decide whether or not they’re the right fit.

Every meeting with job candidates is a critical step in your hiring workflow. Our recent Spotlight, “The Interview Process,” offers tips on getting the most out of every interaction with your candidates during the interview phase, from how they answer and respond to your questions, to the questions they ask in return. Read it today.

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second interview resumesWhen you meet with candidates for a second interview, make sure they’re asking the right questions.

As we mentioned in an earlier article, an interview checklist will often include leaving space for candidates to ask questions. You can even let them know at the start of the interview that they’ll have time to ask things about the company and the opening.

As you and your candidates move through the interview process, and especially as they become more comfortable with you, it’s natural for discussions to slip into a conversational tone. Some interview formats will even encourage this. But conversational or not, you want to be sure your candidates are asking questions.

Have you identified the “right questions” you want to hear?

Did you write something down from a previous interview that might reveal something about them? Did candidates already start asking questions? If so, was there something they seemed most interested in?

  • Did they ask about things like personality dynamics, or how the company handles conflicts between employees?
  • If so, does this suggest that they’ve had issues with employees in the past? Or is it possible that they’ve been aware of issues that others have faced?
  • Does this type of question suggest that they are deeply interested in how your company supports people in the workplace?

Some questions will naturally focus on the job itself.

For instance, a candidate may ask to hear more about the job’s day-to-day responsibilities. Or they may want to tap your thoughts about what you consider to be the most important qualities someone in the role will possess. Or, some candidates may cut to the chase and ask about salary.

For some interviewers, these are fine questions to hear. For others, they can come across as a little general.

  • What if a candidate asks you something you know you already covered?
  • What if the answer to their question is something you know for sure is in the job posting they applied to a few weeks ago?
  • If they ask a question about salary, does this mean they’re feeling extra confident in their chances? Could it be that they’re weighing this option against another opportunity?

Rather than answering a candidate’s questions straight away, consider probing for more specifics, even if it nudges the candidate out of their comfort zone.

For instance, if they ask about day-to-day responsibilities, don’t be afraid to turn the question around.

  • Ask if there is a specific task they’re concerned about from among the ones you’ve discussed already? See what they recall from the ground you’ve covered thus far.
  • Or ask if they envision any particular challenges based on what they’ve already heard. See what’s on their mind, and what their concerns or even self-doubts may be.
  • If salary is on their mind, consider asking them to name a range. Doing so could be a good way to see how much homework they’ve done on the salary side of things, and how realistic their expectations are. It could also give you a chance to see how close your own number is before you actually make an offer.

These kinds of redirections can help you dig into how well they’ve been listening, taking notes, and referring to what you’ve already discussed. They can also help you see how well candidates adjust and respond to something they’re not expecting.

In the end, the idea of a “right question” will come down to what you as an interviewer, and as a company, want to hear. Therefore, before you meet with candidates for a second or third time, consider going back through your notes and explore some of the questions they’ve already asked. See if you can discern what’s on their mind, then observe where they take the next conversation.

 As your hub of information, myStaffingPro’s applicant tracking system can help you stay organized and up-to-date on your hiring process including applicant scoring, answers to pre-interview questions, notes you take during interviews and more. Staying organized is just one of the many benefits of using myStaffingPro as part of your hiring workflow. Contact a myStaffingPro representative to learn more.

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