Jobsearch Technique: How Follow-Up Interviews Differ From First Interviews

Getting hired for a job invariably takes at least two, sometimes as many as a half-dozen rounds of interviews. And while the basic skills a candidate uses are the same from interview to interview, there are important nuances that shift as you progress further along in the process.

Here are the key differences between the first interview and the successive ones that will (hopefully) follow.

They’re more familiar with you and your stories
If you’re a true craftsman about interviewing, you gave it everything you had in the first interview. After all, there’s little reason to hold back – you don’t know whether you’ll even have another round after the first one. But that means the interviewer has heard many of your good stories. So bring new things to talk about at the second interview. Review your career to find stories you haven’t discussed. Or dig further to find new, deeper meanings in the ones you told. Better yet, initiate something new at your current job, and then bring in the details and the progress of the project.

Greater magnification
In the first interview, your quick story about how you turned around the purchasing department at JonesCo may have been met with smiling approval and no follow-up questions. But now, in the second interview, the magnification goes up. The hiring manager may want to hear the details of how you did it and specifics about the process. Be prepared by reviewing the story, obtaining all the facts and figures, and memorizing everything about the project until discussing it is a no-brainer.

You’re more familiar with the interviewer(s)
While you may be put more on the hotseat because of the demand for greater detail in a second interview, you also have the benefit of familiarity with the interviewer. This means you’ll probably have a better sense of where he’s going with a line of questioning. Use this familiarity to build even greater rapport and push your strengths even harder.

More time with hiring manager
The first interview was probably divided pretty equally between time with the human resources contact and the hiring manager. Both were trying to check the broad brush strokes of your career and see if you were even in the ballpark of what the company is looking for. Now that they’ve settled that much in their collective mind, the HR person is likely to bow most of the way out and let the hiring manager take over. That’s a good thing. Now you’ll be discussing the position with someone who’s really familiar with the details of the work. The resulting discussion will probably be more meaningful and ultimately seem more useful. And this is where the big points are scored.

Wider range of associates involved
Finally, there will probably be more rounds within the second interview. In the first one, you probably talked to the human resources manager and the hiring manager, maybe one other person. But for the second interview there’s a very good chance you’re going to get trotted all over the department, perhaps sitting in front of as many as a half-dozen people by the time the day is over. And some of these people will be only remotely connected with what you’ll be doing. But resist the urge to go easy on trying to impress them. They may not have much to do with your job, but you can count on the hiring manager asking the opinion of every single one of them.