Prepare for Your Second Interview

The second interview is a chance for you and your potential employer to determine how you will fit in the organization. Read on for tips to ensure that you put your best foot forward!

Characteristics of a Second Interview


The second or on-site interview is usually the final step in the interview process and the final step in the interview process and the final step in obtaining a job offer.


Employer’s Goals: To identify your unique qualities. During the first interview, employers try to identify many general qualities important to their organization. In the second interview, employers try to determine if you have specific qualities they want in a new employee. Employers also want to see how others in the organization respond to you and if you are good fit in their culture.


Your Goal: To decide if you want to work with this organization. The second interview provides you with the opportunity to view the facilities, meet employees of the organization, possibly see the community, and determine whether or not you want to work for its organization.

A Typical Interview Day

Some interview visits begin with a dinner or reception the night prior to the actual interview. Interviews usually begin the following morning at 8:30 or 9 a.m., although some may begin with the breakfast as early as 7:30. Most interview visits end at 5p.m.


Organizations typically pick up candidates before 8 a.m. and deliver them to the airport in the evening. Little, if any free time can be expected, as even lunch may be reserved for interviews. If offered breaks to freshen up, take advantage of this time to go to the rest room, if for no other reason than to take a break from this intensive process.


Upon arrival, you will usually meet with someone from the Human Resources Department, or in some settings, a person on the search committee. They will likely outline the day’s activities and answer any questions you have about the organization and what will occur during your visit. Throughout the day, they may discuss salary and benefits, employment guidelines, and reimbursement of expenses.


You may have private interviews with four or more individuals, including managers, executives, department heads, alumni from your school, and new trainees. The employer will probably give you a tour of the facilities. If a tour is not scheduled, try to ask for one if time permits.

Types of Second Interviews

 There are several types, but most will usually fall under these categories:


  • Structured Interviews

The interviewers have specific criteria they use to assess you. For example, one person may ask questions to determine your work ethic, technical skills, computer skills, or sales ability. Another person may only ask you about your educational background or your work experience.


The key to doing well in a structured interview is to identify the specific quality or skill that is being assessed and direct all your answers to information about that area.


  • Unstructured Interviews

In an unstructured interview, the interviewer makes a broad evaluation. All interviewers may ask similar questions, but make sure to treat each interviewer with equal importance. Answering the same question repeatedly can become tedious, but try not to let it show.For example, “Why should I hire you?” Express to your immediate supervisor that you have the necessary skills to get the job done, as this person’s goals would be focused on how efficiently you can do the job. The president of an organization, however, may be looking at your potential for retention and advancement.The key to doing well in an unstructured interview is to identify the interviewer’s goal to answer their questions accordingly.You may have a second interview that is conducted as a panel. This interview could be either structured or unstructured. Remember to bring the plenty of resumes for everyone on the panel.One tactic to doing well in a panel interview is to make eye contact with every panelist, while remembering that the person who asked the question should still have the answer addressed to him or her.

Prepare for the Second Interview

It is important that you are fully prepared when you attend an interview.

Research the Employer

Candidates who are prepared for the upcoming schedule, know what to expect, and have knowledge of the organization and its industry stand a greater chance of success than candidates who do not do the necessary, relevant research.

  • Ask the first round interviewer to send you any additional information that you should know about the job, the organization, the department you would work for, and anything else they think is important to review before your visit.
  • Check the web for timely articles or information about the organization or industry. 
  • Use articles and other information to review the organization’s operations, products or services, and management structures.

Prepare Questions to Ask Your Interviewers

Questions show enthusiasm about working for the employer. This is the time to learn more about the organization. Remember, you also are interviewing to see if this position is right for you. The list below suggests topics to cover:

  • Request a complete job description.
  • Find out who will supervise you.
  • Ask what you will be expected to accomplish in the first six months.
  • Ask about support for professional development and training.
  • Ask about the organization’s philosophy and management style.
  • Find out about employee turnover and/or how economic conditions have affected organization.
  • Ask about the timeline for filling the position.

Obtain an Itinerary in advance

It is important to know the schedule of the day’s activities, including the names and titles of the interviewers. If possible, obtain biographical information about your interviewer. Many organizations post staff profiles on their website. Think about the goals of the interviewers in relations to their responsibilities, and respond to their questions accordingly.

Obtain an Itinerary in advance

Review your notes from the first interview. Prepare your responses to effectively address these issues and questions.

  • What were the most important candidate qualifications?
  • What objectives did the employer want to meet?
  • Did you have trouble answering any questions?