Thursday, January 10, 2013

You Have a Second Round Interview

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Perhaps surprisingly, the second interview is often a very different experience from that of the first. The question you now have to ask is "How do you achieve success at the second round interview and ensure that the desired job becomes yours"?

In my experience it can be a bit daunting, but pat yourself on the back  - if you've made it this far, you are now being seriously considered for the role and you won't be in there just making up the numbers! A well know saying which is worth remembering for a second interview:

Failing to plan is planning to fail.

Your success, to a large degree will be determined by your preparation.Once you have negotiated the first interview, its now time to achieve success at the second stage to be offered the job. Competition will be HOT! - but the good news is that you're a definite front runner. What else can you do to tip the scales in your favour?

 Preparation - Preparation - Preparation.

The first interview lays the foundations: it involves checking out your academic background, skills base and experience to ensure that they tie in with your resume and match the job specification. The second interview goes to the next stage and can take on different formats - meeting several staff members (panel interview) or a series of one-to-one interviews. Alternatively, it could take the form of an all-day assessment centre; some have even been known to last even longer. Whatever the format, the questions asked will probe two particular areas:

 Do you meet the core competencies of the job?

 Is your personal profile the right match for the company?

My number ONE rule -

Find out beforehand the format for the second interview, as there are several possibilities. You may be meeting with one person, perhaps your prospective manager, or with several staff members in a panel interview or a series of one to one interviews.

Whatever the format, the questions being asked are specifically exploring two particular areas:

Are you competent to do the job?

This question focuses on examining your skills and experience, perhaps probing for knowledge learnt during your previous employment experiences.

Are you going to fit in with the company and work well with others?

Your personality and the personal impact you make is what will really land you the job; this is far more important than any qualifications or perhaps even your previous experiences.

Future potential is often as important. So be yourself and let your personality shine through. Be enthusiastic, positive and honest.   There are many practical aspects to a second interview that you need to pay specific attention to and focusing on the detail could help to put you ahead of the competition:

Find out the names and titles of the interviewers beforehand.

Take with you a copy of your resume together with a pen and paper - it's by no means certain the interviewer will have a copy from your first visit.

Make sure you pick up business cards of those interviewing you so that you can drop them a thank-you email.

Contact the employer for clarification on expenses (if required) as most employers pay all reasonable expenses incurred on second visits.

Keep records and receipts for transportation, lodging and food.   

The questions are likely to be more searching and probing so you'll need to give fuller and more detailed answers to a variety of questions. Remember to be consistent with any answers you gave during the first meeting and please be honest and open. It essential it is the right job for the right reasons.

Another on of my golden rules:

Build on the information you researched first time around about the industry, the company and your potential role.  

By looking at industry publications, news articles about recent happenings, the company's web site and annual report, get to know the business including its missions, goals, business philosophy and management style. Learn your employer's needs for your potential role so you can relate your skills, interests and experiences in a way that meets those needs.

The opportunity should present itself to let the interviewer know more about you; rather than simply talking about you skills and experience as you did in the first interview, be fresh - think of new examples and information when talking about your achievements. Have confidence, remain calm, be brief, succinct, positive and enthusiastic, know your skills and strengths and express them with confidence.

At some point in time during the interview you will be given the opportunity to ask your deep and searching questions!This is were all your hard work and preparation will pay off. Ask good, pertinent and relevant questions, it shows initiative, enthusiasm and that you are interested in the position and company. Here are my favorite questions to start the ball rolling:

  • What am I expected to accomplish in my first six months?

  • How would you define your company culture?

  •  How has this vacancy come about?

  • Where do the company see themselves in two years and how do you view your competition?

  • What support will I receive for my professional development?  

Also, have prepared some questions that relate directly to information you were given at the first interview. If you're able to ask, say, 'When I met Mr. X last week, he mentioned such-a-such-a project - what would my team's involvement be in that area?'

It not only shows enthusiasm but also that you're capable of listening. Be sure also to clarify any of your doubts about the organisation, their training, salary or potential locations. Remember this is a two way process. They may like you, but what's your opinion of them?

Use this opportunity to meet individuals, view facilities, review company philosophies and ask any additional questions. Do the employees seem happy, bored, overworked? Essentially, do you like them? These are people you will have to spend much of your time with so it is best to find out now. As mentioned earlier, second interviews can be a daunting experience but with undertaking the correct level of preparation and applying yourself in the right manner, you're halfway there.

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