Second interview questions to expect

Congratulations! You made it to the next interview round. A second interview is yet again an opportunity for the hiring manager to decide if you’re a good fit and it’s your chance to show you are perfect for the job! 

While the first round of interviews is commonly used to establish a shortlist of candidates, the second interview aims at drilling into the detail to find out if you would be the right fit for the role and the company.

Which questions should you expect when you return for a second interview? Here are a few second round interview questions to anticipate:

Firstly, be prepared for competency-based questions

Be prepared for more detailed questions relating to various aspects of the role. While competency-based questions will most likely have come up in the first interview, the second interview questions will definitely cover more specifics.

Expect targeted questions.

Here are some behavioural questions to anticipate during the second interview:

  • “What has been the biggest challenge in your current/previous role and how did you handle it?” The goal here is to gain insight into how you acted on your own initiative and demonstrated your problem-solving skills to achieve a certain objective.
  • “Have you introduced new work procedures or tried to encourage your team to adopt new policies and processes at work?” The response to this question outlines your desire to innovate and be an agent of positive change in an organisation. By showing you have the company’s best interest in mind you increase your chances of landing the job.
  • “Describe a time when you have been highly decisive at work?” This is an opportunity for the hiring manager to find out how determined you are to reach your goals. Tell the interviewer about a time you had to make an instant decision in the workplace, the thought processes you went through, and the outcome of your actions.
  • “When have you taken key decisions independently and without consulting your manager?” This is a good way for the interviewer to see how you would go about solving a problem on your own. Showing you are able to take initiative gives the recruiter insight into how you operate in the workplace.
  • “Have you made an unpopular decision that delivered good results?” If the job you're applying for is one where tough decisions need to be taken, make sure you demonstrate you are able to handle challenging situations that eventually led to good business results. This is a perfect opportunity for the hiring manager to see you put the company’s interests before any personal interests.
  • “How have you coped with changing processes and circumstances at work?” Companies generally go through change and are looking for employees who are able to keep their productivity and motivation levels up during times of change. Make sure you are able to give an example that shows how adaptable and resilient you are. 

Secondly, the hiring manager wants to get an idea of your soft skills

It is no longer enough to have the technical skills needed for the job. Other competencies, the so-called soft skills, are now increasingly more valued. Communication skills, commercial interest and team collaboration are highly sought-after skills. Such qualities are definitely seen as a bonus during the selection process. Make sure you are prepared to answer these typical second interview questions:

  • Can you tell me about a time when you worked successfully as part of a team?
  • How do you deal with internal and external stakeholders?
  • How do you prepare for meetings?
  • What type of management style do you prefer?
  • How have you resolved a conflict with a colleague or superior?
  • Are you willing to delegate or do you prefer to deal with tasks yourself?
  • When have you had to take the lead and inspire others? How did you do this?

The hiring manager wants to look beyond your resume and find out if you would be a good fit with the company culture and team. Understanding your people skills and your preferred method of working is essential for employers to see if you are the right person for the job. 

Lastly, be prepared to answer the following interview questions:

  • “Why do you want to work for this company?” This is a good way to test if you have done your research. Explain why the organisation’s industry, mission and values resonate well with your own desired career path and personal values.
  • “What skills do you think are required to perform this job effectively?” Asking what competencies are essential to the role provides valuable insight into whether or not you understand the skills required to be successful in the job. 
  • “Do you prefer following instruction or acting independently?” Describe what kind of leadership you respond well to and your preferred way of working. Your response provides insight into what kind of management brings out the best in you and if you are someone who will fit in well with the company culture.
  • “What is your ultimate career goal?” Finding out what your ambitions are helps a hiring manager discover if you are looking to develop your career or see it as a stepping stone to another job or company.
  • “What are the first three things you would do if you land the job?” This gives you a chance to show the interviewer you have a good idea about what the company deems are important aspects of the job and where you might add value.
  • “What are your salary expectations?” Consult the Robert Half Salary Guide to get insight into the latest salary benchmarks and trends. If you come prepared with reasonable salary expectations, chances are high you will be able to negotiate a remuneration package that meets both parties’ expectations and demands.

A successful second interview relies on thorough preparation and thoughtful responses, so make sure you are prepared for these second interview questions. Get more information on second interviews by reading our blog, 'What to expect in a second interview'.

Take a look at our job interview page for more interview tips and advice.

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