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What questions should you ask in a second interview?

If you have called back an applicant for a second interview, you have an opportunity to get to know the candidate better and see whether you think they would be a good fit for your company. That said, many interviewers are not sure what to ask the second time they meet with a candidate. Generally, a second interview gives you the opportunity to expand your knowledge of the candidate and assess how they would use their skills and strengths in their assigned role. Here are some questions you may want to consider asking.

Is there anything from your first interview you would like to revisit?

This question is designed to test the interviewee’s preparedness and level of interest in the job. If a potential employee is not interested in your company or considers it a second choice or fallback job, they may not show up prepared for a second interview. Most invested candidates should be able to recall what was discussed in their first interview. Those who are less interested may not be able to recall, or they may simply answer with “No, not really.”

Why do you think this company is a good fit for you?

By asking potential employees to answer this question, you will quickly be able to tell if they are familiar with company culture and mission. An invested candidate will have done their homework and arrived at the second interview, knowing something about what working for your company is like. It is generally a good sign if a candidate’s answer is specific to your company and not to your industry as a whole.

Are you familiar with our competitors, and what sets us apart from them?

While the previous question is designed to assess a candidate’s level of familiarity with your company, this one is meant to gauge their knowledge of your industry as a whole.

If a candidate has already been working in your company’s industry for a few years, they likely will be able to answer this question easily. If you are interviewing someone new to the industry, a thorough answer to this one is a very good sign — it means the candidate has taken the time to research the industry and that they are likely to go the extra mile in the office as well.

What were some of your best and worst work relationships?

Though answers to this question focus on specific working relationships, they can give you an idea of the type of person with whom the candidate works best. While you want to hire the most qualified candidate, you also want to hire someone who will work well with existing team members. You may also want to follow up by asking how the interviewee handled difficult work relationships in the past. Even the most harmonious workplaces deal with conflict from time to time, and an employee with excellent conflict resolution skills is an asset.

Tell us about a significant problem you faced at your last job. How did you handle it?

This is a question that invites candidates to show off problem-solving skills. In a second-round interview, you get a chance to see how a given candidate would conduct themselves as an employee, and problem-solving is a key part of any job. Depending on the candidate’s answer, you may get a glimpse into their ability to handle a number of things:

  • Interpersonal issues with coworkers
  • Changing project or company goals
  • Difficult clients
  • Sudden or seasonal workload increases
  • Multiple deadlines

What are some things you like and dislike about your current job?

Answers to this question will help you discover whether or not a candidate will fit in well with your company. For instance, if they dislike spending most of their time interacting with customers and are applying for a customer-facing position, they likely are not a good fit. However, if most of their dislikes have to do with poor management or negative company culture, there is still a good chance that they will be a good fit for your company.

Why are you the best choice for this position?

Most of the questions asked at a second interview offer the candidate a chance to prove why they’re a good choice for the position. However, this question also allows candidates to effectively and succinctly pitch themselves — something disinterested candidates may not be able to do.

This question is also indirectly asking candidates about their greatest strengths, and a good answer will cover both job-specific skills and how the candidate fits into the company culture. An answer that focuses only on job skills may mean the candidate has not looked into company culture (or that they are not sure if the culture is right for them). On the other hand, a candidate who only or primarily discusses culture fit and soft skills may not believe that they are fully qualified.

What is the most difficult decision you have had to make at work?

This question offers you a glimpse into a candidate’s decision-making process. It also lets you see what they value. Depending on the candidate’s answer, you may find that they are a good fit for your company’s culture. Of course, not all difficult work decisions are moral dilemmas, so this question may be more or less useful depending on a candidate’s answer. A second-round interview offers you a chance to learn more about each candidate and envision what they would be like as an employee. As such, you may want to ask follow-up questions, especially if the decision they chose to discuss is similar to the choices they would need to make on the job.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

While it is definitely a common interview question, a candidate’s answer will let you see whether their goals are in line with those of your company. If you have not asked this question in a first interview, using it as a second interview question can give you a sense of whether an interviewee sees themselves in the industry for the long term. Candidates who are genuinely interested in your company and the position are more likely to have advancement goals, while those who are less invested may answer more vaguely.

How do you manage stress from work?

Candidates who manage stress poorly may be more prone to burnout, and this is an especially important second interview question if you are interviewing for a stressful position. It is an especially good sign if the candidate has a ready answer and seems to have a healthy work-life balance. While it may seem appealing to hire someone who focuses on work to the detriment of their personal life, employees like this may eventually lose productivity, burn out, or quit.

If an interviewee cannot seem to think of an answer, they may not manage stress well. Alternatively, they may not have had to deal with a stressful work environment. Depending on the nature of the position you are interviewing for, this may or may not be an issue.

Conclusion

The second interview is crucial when it comes to choosing the right employees for your company. By carefully selecting questions that let you vet job-specific and interpersonal skills, you will significantly increase your chances of selecting someone who is a great fit and will thrive in their new role.

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