Congratulations! You've scored a second interview for that dream job. Now you need to impress a new round of interviewers, perhaps from the C-suite or the team you'd be working with. In addition to preparing for employers' questions, you need to develop some fresh questions of your own.
In the second interview, employers are usually trying to visualize how a job candidate will fit into the role. They might ask what you can contribute to the company, for example, or why you're the best person for the job. The more informed you are about the recruiting process, the better off you'll be to make your best case that you're the right candidate — and to assess whether the job is the right fit for you.
The importance of having second interview questions to ask
The second interview is your opportunity to probe deeper into the work and the company. You can demonstrate your professional strengths through the questions you ask and convey how you're the top candidate to hire for the position. But the other goal of your own second interview questions is to determine whether this job is right for you and your career path.
Time to delve deeper into expectations for the role
Here are three second interview questions to ask that will reveal more about the employer's expectations for the role:
Q. What's the biggest challenge I would face in my first six months on this job?
By asking this question, you demonstrate your commitment to being successful right from the start. The interviewer's answer will reveal a lot about the day-to-day of the job and your manager’s expectations for success. Another good question in this vein is: "What would success look like in this role?"
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Q. How could an employee in this position make a real difference at the company?
This question shows that you take a proactive approach to your job and that you want to make a significant contribution to the organization. Companies appreciate employees who show initiative and look for ways to improve things. During your first interview, you obviously convinced a hiring manager that you're an excellent candidate for consideration. Use this question to prove that you're the top candidate for the job.
Q. What does a typical day look like for the person in this role?
With this question, you can get a feel for whether your expectations for the job line up with reality. How much of your time will be allotted for meetings? Will your manager expect to chat face-to-face throughout the day or will you communicate mostly through email? Are you working independently or as part of a team?
An opportunity to learn about the workplace culture
On second interviews, hiring managers will often schedule brief meetings with company staff you'll regularly interact with. So now's your chance to ask an array of people your important questions about team cohesion and what employees like and don't like about the job. Here are a few examples of how you might delve into the topic of workplace culture:
Q. What do you like most about working for the company?
You may have asked this question during your first interview. But you'll probably speak with a different person or a panel of interviewers the second time around. This interview question conveys to the hiring manager that you are enthusiastic about working for the company and want to get a sense of what office life would be like. But it also gives you an opportunity to learn more about the people you'll be working with and their views on what it’s like to work there. Remember, the people you meet during the interview process are among the best equipped to discuss a company’s strengths and weaknesses — don't miss your chance to ask them, but always be diplomatic.
Q. What can you tell me about the people and departments I will be working with?
This is a great interview question to ask because you'll learn about the people you will be interacting with on a daily basis. The interviewer may also describe the organizational structure in greater detail and how you fit into it, explaining how departments work together. It also helps the interviewer envision you in the role and how your personality might mesh with the team.
Q. What's the office culture here? If you could change one thing about it, what would it be?
Be sure to ask at least one question that touches on the corporate culture. Pay close attention to the interviewers' comments and the way in which they frame them. Be wary of either 100 percent positivity or negativity — the answer you want shares real experience and thoughtful criticism. Something along the lines of "We are supportive when it comes to professional development and work-life balance, but I think we could do better. The good news is we've been making progress recently, and opportunities are increasing," is a good sign. But if the answer is, "I can’t think of a single thing I’d want to change,” or, "It's too difficult to be promoted here," you may want to reconsider things before accepting a job offer.
Remember throughout your second interview that each person you interact with is evaluating you for fit as well. So be poised and professional throughout this important meeting.
End your second interview by showing your insight
As you near the end of the second interview, you can wrap it up nicely with some nuts and bolts questions about the role. These often have to do with the history of the position and hiring timeline. Here are two examples:
Q. Is this a newly created role, or did someone hold this position before?
The answer to this interview question can give you insight into the culture of the firm that's hiring. If the interviewer says the person you'd be replacing was promoted, that's a positive sign. But if you learn that turnover is high for this position, it could be a red flag. Ask for more details on why past employees didn't work out and what the company would like to do differently with the new hire.
Q. What are the next steps in the hiring process?
At the end of your interview, ask if there's any more information you can provide to support your candidacy. When does the firm hope to bring someone on board? Who will you hear from and when? Will you need to meet with other company representatives before a decision is made? These kinds of questions will help you manage your own expectations and give you an idea of the company's hiring time frame so you don't leave the interview wondering and waiting.
Knowing the right interview questions to ask can help you stand out and demonstrate that you are excited about the company's future and your role in it. Always try to prepare with a friend or family member who’ll give honest feedback, then walk into that second interview ready to impress the hiring manager.
For more job interview tips, read the Robert Half Blog.