Have You Made It to the Third Interview? Here’s What to Expect

If you’re still standing after the second job interview, you should be proud! Most applicants never make it to the first interview. And if the company wants to bring you back for a third look, your chances of being hired are better than average.

We’ve already given you advice about what to expect from a second interview, but a third interview is totally different. Here’s what to keep in mind when you meet the hiring manager for the third time.

Expect to keep your guard up

“Candidates need to prepare throughout the entire recruiting process or risk losing out on a potential job offer,” says Kim Thomas, senior manager, talent acquisition at Robert Half. “Their skills, competencies and experience are still being evaluated, even at the stage of a third interview.”

Thomas says hiring managers often want more information about how job applicants have responded to tough situations in the past, and she recommends that candidates prepare for these types of questions. “This will help you briefly describe a particular situation, the specific action you took and the result/outcome,” she says.

Expect a longer interview that involves more people

The higher-ups don’t have time to meet with every candidate. However, when the company is preparing to make a final decision, at least one of the divisional leaders or senior executives may want to meet the individuals in serious contention for the position. So expect to meet with — and be grilled by — the heavy hitters during the third interview.

It’s also possible that your second interview did not produce a consensus. For example, maybe you impressed the hiring manager, but another candidate is the favorite among the folks in HR. You could be called back so senior leadership can break the tie.  

Expect intensive questions that can determine cultural fit and competence

A recent Robert Half survey revealed that 64 percent of HR managers admitted they misjudged a candidate’s ability to fit the company’s culture, and 66 percent said they lost an employee who was not suited for the environment. Hiring the wrong person is an expensive, time-consuming and labor-intensive mistake that companies try to avoid.

During the third interview, expect questions that reveal such things as your ability to be a team player and engage in cross-department collaboration, your preference for working in a quiet environment versus a more animated setting, and whether you take a conservative approach to work or are a risk-taker.

Companies also will use the third interview to learn how you react in certain, tricky situations — your reaction if you were to catch another employee doing something unethical, how well you manage stress and how you prioritize competing deadlines.

Be prepared to weave the company’s core values into your answers. “I know that the company places high value on integrity, so I would notify my manager at once if I saw an employee doing something that appeared unethical,” shows that you have taken the time to learn and understand what’s important to the organization.

Expect to ask more in-depth questions

During the first two interviews, you may have asked general questions about the company; however, you’ll be expected to have more profound queries during the third interview. Examples of these types of questions include:

  1. How will this position be assessed during a performance evaluation and what does success in this position look like?
  2. What are the shared characteristics of your most successful employees?
  3. What are the shared characteristics of the employees who were not successful?
  4. What is the most pressing problem the person in this position needs to solve?
  5. Who held this position previously and where are they now?

Expect to engage in salary negotiation

Be prepared to talk about compensation and benefits. Make sure that you know what your skills are worth, based on your research regarding salary trends and calculations. If you’re not happy with the salary offer, don’t express this during the interview. Take some time to think it over and weigh your options. Perhaps the health plan is superior to other offers you have received, or the bonus is larger. 

These are just some of the conversations that you can expect during the third interview. By anticipating and preparing for the most likely scenarios, you can cement your standing as the best person for the job.