How To Ace A Second Interview (Questions & Example Answers Included)

By Mike Simpson

Ahh, the first interview. Such a magical moment in time.

You, terrified, trying so hard to be everything you know you need to be. You’re on time (which is actually a touch early!), you’re prepared, you’re dressed to impress and you’re ready to answer any question they throw at you. You walk out, shoulders back, heart racing, adrenaline putting an extra spring in your step.

Congratulations, you’ve survived!

You get home and take a deep breath. It’s time to relax and bask in the golden glow of your success. But then the unexpected happens…you get a phone call…and not just ANY phone call! It’s the hiring manager and he wants to know if you’re available for a second interview! Of course you are!


Get access to 5 of the most common second interview questions along with great sample answers for each.

Click Here To Get The Second Interview Questions Cheat Sheet

You quickly stutter your acceptance and set the date and time, then hang up and stand in stunned silence.

Oh crap. Now what? Take a deep breath, turbo! This isn’t good news…it’s great news and we’re gonna tell you how to knock this one out of the ball park too! So, don’t toss that tie quite yet…or put those high heels away for good…it’s time to go back to work turning you into the perfect candidate…again!

What Exactly Is A Second Interview?

First off, let’s start with what a second interview really is.

Yes, it’s what it sounds like…a second chance for the hiring manager to take a good look at you and decide if you’re a good fit…but it’s also so much more than just that!

HANG ON! Before we get into this too deeply, we have to issue this brief disclaimer:

For the purposes of this article, we are going to assume that this is your second IN PERSON interview, not a phone screening interview… If your only prior interview was via the phone and this is your first IN PERSON interview…then for all intents and purposes you need to consider this to be a FIRST INTERVIEW and should check out our other articles that tackle this subject including Job Interview Questions and Answers 101.

Okay, back to our regularly scheduled programming!

So what does a second interview mean?

Well, we can tell you it ISN’T a guarantee of employment. This isn’t the time to get cocky and let everything you’ve worked so hard on slide.

Not by a long shot.

It IS, however, another opportunity for you to really show them that you’re the best person for the job…you are the perfect candidate!

The first interview was the warm up.

Odds are in your first interview you met with someone from human resources or a hiring manager and was probably more of a broad screening to weed out the last of the unsuitable candidates.

The second is the “big leagues” which means your second interview will probably be conducted by someone a little higher up…or even a LOT higher up.

You can almost guarantee that this interview will be much more in depth and very well might include introductions to other key members within the business including superiors, senior managers, and even possibly fellow teammates.

Think of the first interview as a first date. Everyone was on their best behavior and really trying to see if there was any chemistry.

A second interview is a bit more serious…think of it as a second date…on steroids.

Odds are you’re going to be talking long term commitment and possibly meeting the parents…er, I mean higher ups!

No pressure!

So how do you prepare for this new level of scrutiny, intensity and yes, even fear?

By taking everything you’ve done so far and kicking it up another notch!

The Invitation For a Second Interview

Let’s start by going back in time and the phone call that started this all…the call for a second interview.

Don’t just stutter and stammer through it. Take the time to make even this brief interaction work for you in the best possible way.

As you set up the interview, ask a few questions starting with getting a list of the name and role of the individual (or names and roles if it’s to be a panel or group interview).

This is also a great time to really make sure that you know EXACTLY what job you are going in for.

Even if you think you already know, take the time to ask again…it’s far better to ask twice than find out too late that you’re wrong.

If you’re going in for a position with a large department (let’s say IT), get the exact title of the position you are now interviewing for. Not only will it help clear up any confusion on either end, it’ll give you a laser tight focus to your prep!

But I didn’t get a phone call…I got an email!

Even better!

Take the time drafting your response and make sure you hit the tasks we outlined above in your reply. Don’t feel self-conscious about these steps…your goal is to be as prepared as possible and a good hiring manager will recognize this.

Plan Your Strategy

Okay, the date and time are set.

You know exactly what you’re interviewing with and who is doing the interviewing.

Congratulations, you’ve got everything you need to start really prepping!

Start with who is interviewing you. Time to do a little digging!

No, this isn’t the time to hire a Private Detective or go all crazy stalker on them.

You want to impress them with your knowledge, not scare them!

A little personal information (gleaned through the company website or LinkedIn) is good for small talk, but don’t go overboard.

Now is not the time to friend them on Facebook and send them Candy Crush requests. More than anything, focus on their role within the company and how you will fit into that puzzle as well.

To bring it back to the second date scenario, don’t forget that this is a partnership which means you’re going to want to make sure that not only are the company needs met, but yours are as well!

Now is the time to figure out beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is the right fit for you too.

Sit down and really figure out what matters to you in a job. While you’re doing this, use the time to also come up with a NEW list of questions to ask your potential future employer. We’ve gathered a list of good ones below for you to augment your own list with.

This would be a great time to read our article How To Discuss Salary During the Job Interview Process” as well if it’s a subject you haven’t yet discussed.

While you’re digging around gathering information on your potential interviewers, don’t forget to brush up on the company information as well.

You should be able to articulate clearly not only what you know about the company but also how you would be a good fit with them.

You want to demonstrate genuine interest in the company and the best way to do that is to figure it out yourself first.


The most important thing to remember while doing your research is that you need to tailor the entire second interview to the company you are interviewing with (and the position you are interviewing for).  The best way to do this is to infuse your answers to the interview questions with Qualities that you have discovered through your research.  For a detailed explanation on how our Tailoring Method works, check out Job Interview Questions and Answers 101.

If you have contacts within the company or know of any past or current employees, now is the time to reach out.   Ask them about the climate within the industry.

Ask them what they liked about working there and what they didn’t like.

Go ahead, you can even ask them about the people who are going to be conducting your interview…but be careful how you use this information!

If you’re asking a former employee, make sure to keep in mind why they’re a former employee (good and bad) and don’t let personal opinions dictate your own ability to form impressions on your own.

Double and triple check that resume and print out multiple copies. If you’re going in for a group interview, make sure to bring enough copies for everyone…and a few extras (just in case!)

Types of Second Interviews

As I mentioned above, there is a good chance that your second interview looks a lot different than your first interview.

While the introductory interview is usually just a one-on-one with a person from HR or a hiring manager, the second interview can follow a lot of different formats (and could possibly be a collection of a few different “mini interviews”).

Here are some of the different interview formats you could see on your second interview:

One on One

Okay so you already know this one.  But it is worth mentioning that your second interview could be similar to your first in that it is with only one person, only this time it could be with a different person with a different (and more influential) role with the company.  This might include a department head, Director, Vice President or possibly even the owner.

Panel Interview

Ahhh, the dreaded panel interview.  In this case, you literally “face the firing squad” as you are interviewed by multiple people at the same time.  Fasten your seat belt and be prepared to answer a barrage of questions, but more importantly, try and keep your cool.  After all, they like you!  They wouldn’t have brought you in for a second interview if it wasn’t the case.

Group Interview

Depending on the type of person you are, this type of interview can either be a blessing or a curse.  In the group interview, you are put in a group of other candidates (i.e. your competition!) and everyone is interviewed at the same time.  Quite often, the hiri