Killer Second Interview Questions
Congratulations! You did it. You impressed your interviewers on the first round and have been called back in for a second interview.
This second round of interviews will need more effort. The interview questions will focus in-depth on you as an individual and the company you are applying for. This means that you will need to do intensive research about the company outside of its website, read articles written about the company, and follow their social media to understand their employees’ profiles to better insight.
Before we dive into these second interview questions, it is important to first reflect on the first interview. Everyone feels nervous during interviews, and you probably feel you would have done better the first time. Remember that the interview is also difficult for the interviewer. To ease the tension during the second interview, it will help to think about how the first interview went and reflect on areas you feel need improvement, such as your body language, or maybe you did not give enough details about why you have worked so many part-time jobs in the past. The second and most important thing to do before the interview is to practice. Practice indeed makes perfect. Practicing the questions, you anticipate in the interview will help your answers feel more natural than memorized.
Familiarize yourself with the following questions that are often asked during second-round interviews:
Question 1. What would you want to achieve within the first 1 month at this company?
This might feel like a difficult question. The words ‘achieve’ or ‘accomplish’ often feel like such big terms that boggle our minds into thinking that we need to mention awards and honors or how we would increase the company’s revenue to two times its current value in the next year. However, what the interviewers want to know is if you’ve given this position extensive thoughts. How would you improve the company, and if you have plans set on how to get there? They want to know if you have any innovative and fresh ideas you would bring to the company and what you are looking to gain from working there. How would the company help you achieve your goals? They don’t expect you to have all the logistics ready, and they want to see if you can take the initiative and be innovative.
Question 2. Do you respond well to stressful situations?
This is an easy question, but you want your answer to be believable. Every employer wants to know that you can work well under pressure.
It’s hard to avoid stressful situations, but your employers need to know that you can be calm, collected, and handle yourself well during such situations. The best way to answer this question is by giving a vivid example or two of how you overcame a stressful situation or how you accomplished a project under a lot of pressure.
Question 3. What are your career goals?
This question can easily trap you. Your interviewer is looking to determine if this career is a long-term commitment or merely a stepping stone. Your employer wants to know that you are committed to growing with and within the company. They want to feel secure that by hiring you, they are making a long-term investment.
Your answer should explain how your career goals align with this position. For example, if you’re applying for financial assistant manager, yet your long-term career goal is to be a research scientist, then your career goals don’t align with the position you are applying for, and they most probably will not hire you. The best answer should include wanting to achieve executive positions, take on more responsibilities, and be part of product strategies.
Question 4. Why aren’t you earning more money at this stage of your career?
Please note that you do not want your employers to think that money is not that important to you. It’s probably among the top priorities. You want to explain that your salary maybe a little below industry standard levels. Your answer should state that making more money is indeed important to you, and it is one of the reasons you are applying for this position at their company but make it clear that what’s more important is your career growth. To enjoy the work, you’d get to do and do it well.
Question 5. Have you been tardy for work more than a few days in your previous job?
It is always advisable not to lie. If you’ve had problems before, be honest about it because you could easily be found out. Then again, admitting to being late often could raise the alarm. The best way to answer this question is to emphasize how important consistency in attendance is to you. Explain that it is crucial for you to be on or before time to get your work done and not let the burden of your work fall on your colleagues who might be forced to fill in for you before you arrive.
Question 6. Why did you apply for this position?
This question helps the interviewer gauge your true interest in the company. As much as the salary and benefits package could be your reason for applying, you should NOT mention that. Instead, you should aim to express your passion for the company and the position of how the company’s values and ethics align with your own. How the values it impacts on its clients and employees are important to you. Your answer should be company-specific. Therefore, much-needed intensive research about the company before the interview.
Question 7. Have you ever considered starting your own company?
This is also a question that could trap you. You do not want to answer yes and elaborate enthusiastically. As much as entrepreneurship is an admirable trait, you do not want to give your employers the impression that you won’t do well as a team player, or maybe the only reason you applied for this position was because of some personal or financial limitations and just had to settle for them as a plan B.
Again, ensure that you research the company’s corporate culture. Include that you would want to venture out into your own business in due time but be very brief and modest.
Question 8. Explain what kind of environment you would consider ideal.
The interviewer wants to know your relative fit in the company.
The key is to ensure that your answers align with the corporate culture. The employers want to know under what conditions would you perform best. Would you perform well in a team or set apart as an individual? Do you prefer quiet places without any distractions, or would you be able to do your job irrespective of the background noise? Can you multitask or only do one task at a time? Can you work well in a dynamic environment with spontaneous challenges, or would you prefer a more structured setting?
Question 9. Why are you leaving your current job?
Be as diplomatic as possible when answering this question. Please do not talk about how your colleagues were pulling their weight or how to mean your boss was. Such comments are far more detrimental than helpful. They reflect poorly on you as a person and your character than on your previous workmates. Consider stating career challenges that lacked in your previous job, such as;
“I appreciate the lessons and experiences I have gained in my previous job. However, it did not provide enough room for advancement. I want to take on more responsibilities and challenges that come with higher ranks.”
Question 10. I’m concerned that you don’t have as much experience as we’d like for someone intended to fill this position.
This is a make-or-break question. The fact that you were called in for a second interview shows that the interviewer mostly likes what he sees but has some doubts over one key area. How you answer this question may determine whether you get the job or not. The concern is not that you are missing certain qualifications, such as a master’s degree in accounting, but that your experience may be light in one area. Maybe the job description included 5 years of experience, but you’ve only had 3. The employer is probably just concerned that maybe 3 years was not enough to fill this position well. The best way to ace this question is by matching the employer’s wants and needs with your strengths. First, agree that the mentioned qualification is indeed important in succeeding in this role. Then, show them how your strength is greater than your resume indicates. Feel free to give examples of situations you surpassed expectations without having a certain qualification. Prove to them that your combination of qualifications really makes you a good fit for the position despite this one shortcoming.
Question 11. Would you feel comfortable working nights, weekends and overtime?
First, if you are a workaholic, this question is a no brainer for you. However, if this is not your normal schedule and you blatantly blurt out “no way!” you can kiss goodbye to the job offer. So, what if you have a family and responsibilities that need attending to and you would prefer a reasonably normal schedule? The best way to answer this question is by asking another question. “What’s the normal schedule followed by your best performers here?” Chances are they do have top performers who work relatively normal hours. If the hours still sound uncomfortable, you could explain your concerns in a polite way while stressing your strengths. Explain that you enjoy your work and perform exceptionally. Give examples explaining how results in the past prove this. Explain that you have a family that supports you and looks forward to seeing you on the weekends, and their happiness helps you balance out your life and perform even better at work.
Question 12. What would you do if a fellow colleague was not doing their job right and this was affecting your department?
Such questions test how you relate with people. Fall back on life principles and how you would prefer to be treated in similar circumstances. Explain how you would calmly approach the other person and politely explain your concerns. If you sensed any resistance, you would be more persuasive and explain how working together and fulfilling your duties would benefit everyone and failure, which would be detrimental to clients and the company.
Question 13. What are your weaknesses?
Like all others, keep this answer positive. You may decide to point out a strength that is disguised as a weakness. For example, you may state that sometimes you find it hard to say no to colleagues who need extra help with work, yet you have your own piled up. You end up having to work extra hours later to complete your own work and have to compromise on other personal duties you could have achieved during that time. Explain that you are working towards improving this area by setting your priorities right and sticking by them not to neglect other areas of your life, such as family time, that help give your life balance.
Question 14. How would you define success and how do you measure up to your own definition?
The best answer to this is by explaining that success to you means progressive planning and hard work towards achieving your goals. You would define yourself as successful and fortunate about how you measure up to this definition because you have always been able to live up to this definition to realize your goals.
Question 15. How would you rate me as an interviewer?
You don’t want to seem easy to please or critical. A smart answer would be something like this, “Your questions have been very analytical and methodical. You have made me think critically about aspects I would not normally consider, and I’ve had to think outside the box. I appreciate that. I believe this approach has yielded excellent hires for your company.
In short, give him a sincere and believable compliment.
All the best and good job hunting!
Also read: How to write a Thank You Email After an Interview?