Your Top Questions About the Follow-Up Interview Answered

By Robert Half on February 1, 2020 at 5:00pm

Job seekers frequently have questions about how to prepare for a first interview. But the concerns aren’t confined to making a great initial impression. Two of our most popular blog posts involve planning for a second or third interview. Follow-up interviews can indeed be tricky ones.

While job candidates would no doubt prefer a quick and straightforward hiring process, the bottom line is that the path to a new job can often be a meandering one that requires skill and patience. Employers today are often cautious and exacting when bringing aboard new team members.

Since our posts on second interviews and third interviews were published, a number of readers have reached out to Robert Half recruiters with more specific questions — and a wide range of them. While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to some of these interview scenarios, here are some thoughts on what you might do if you find yourself in a similar situation.

Interview fatigue

Question: I’m interviewing for a position at a fairly large company. I did a detailed first interview by phone and then had a lengthy in-person interview in which I met with my prospective boss and other team members. I was just called for another interview, and I don't know who will be involved or what to expect. Any tips?

Answer: You’ve obviously impressed the employer enough that they want to keep the conversation going. Don’t succumb to interview fatigue just yet. Go into the next interview with the same level of preparation and optimism as you did the previous ones. Remember: You’re getting closer to reaching your ultimate goal. You might email the hiring manager or HR representative to find out exactly who you’ll be meeting with this time. That’s a reasonable question at this point.

During the interview, reiterate your most relevant skills, but also try to weave in some details you’ve learned about the company through your research and previous interviews. That shows that you’ve been engaged and remain extremely interested. Before the interview wraps up, ask about next steps in the hiring process.

“You should interview for this job instead!”

I applied for a position and went through multiple interviews. In the end, the company chose the other finalist. The employer then said they had another open position they’d like me to apply for, as I’d made a great impression on everyone. I did a video interview with that hiring manager and it went well. After three weeks, I got a call saying that — again — they really liked me, but had offered the job to someone else.

But with that bad news, I was told there was yet another position and that another hiring manager was interested in me. Now I have an opportunity to interview for this third job opening. I'm confused. It seems that they like me, but not enough to offer me a job. Do you have any advice on keeping positive for this new opportunity?

The first order of business is deciding whether you’re interested in this particular job or not. Sure, you’ve invested a lot of time with this employer, but does the role truly appeal to you?

If the answer is yes, the next step is to stop thinking about the previous interviews and focus strictly on nailing this one. View the situation as a fresh opportunity instead of some epic, uphill battle. You’re far more likely to impress this new hiring manager if you adopt a mindset of “The company likes me so much they keep looking for ways to hire me,” instead of “Ugh, why do I keep coming in second place?” The bottom line: Don’t overthink it. Keep doing what you’ve been doing in the interviews. They clearly think highly of you.

Now if they suggest you apply for a fourth job, well, it might be time to consider cutting bait.

The waiting game

I recently did a third interview. The hiring manager told me that the final decision would be made by yesterday and that I’d be receiving a call either way, but I have not heard from him. What does this mean?

What does it mean? The possibilities are endless. Trying to read into a situation when you have zero information is frustrating — and futile. Key stakeholders might still be deciding. An internal candidate might have popped up at the last second. The hiring manager could be out sick.

Instead of playing the what-if game, give it a day, then send a friendly and succinct email. Politely ask if there’s an update, and briefly mention your strong interest in the job. Thank the hiring manager for their time and make it known when you’re available to talk.

On the fly

I’ve had two video interviews for a job I’m seeking in another state. The first was with a regional manager. The second was with several managers from different regions and the VP of operations. The company contacted me today, and they want to fly me out to meet everyone face to face. Should I expect a tough and in-depth interview, or does the fact they are paying to fly me in mean I’m in the home stretch of the process?

Video interviews and phone interviews are cost-effective ways for employers to narrow the field. So, yes, it’s a promising sign that the employer is willing to invest time and money in further discussions with you — but it’s always safer to be ready for a grilling than a cakewalk.

Make no assumptions. Maybe you have the job offer locked up and the meeting will be a perfunctory get-to-know-you session. Or maybe not. Prepare for tough and in-depth questions, but be presently surprised if you fly through this follow-up interview and quickly land an offer. Best of luck!

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