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Questions to Ask on the Second Interview

One of the things I strongly advise job applicants is that you should come to any interview prepared with several relevant questions to ask. This shows you are serious about the job and took the time to prepare for that specific interview.

Some questions are best asked in the first interview. For example, “What do you consider the most important qualifications for this job?” The first interview is where applicants are screened to determine if they meet the qualifications for the job, so this is a relevant question to ask.

The second interview is a different story. Candidates selected for a second interview have already been determined to meet the basic job qualifications as a result of the first interview round.

During a second interview, the questions will be deeper and more behavioral-oriented. This is because the Hiring Manager is now focused less on your basic qualifications (you have them or you wouldn’t be in the second interview) and more on whether you are a good fit for the company and the position.

Consequently, the questions you ask should also be deeper and oriented towards finding out more about the company culture and environment. These types of questions show how serious you are about the position. In addition, asking the right questions can give you valuable insight to use should you be chosen for a third or final interview.

You can also incorporate the information you gained from the answers to your questions into your closing comments. This can help you make a more powerful statement that you are the best person for that job.

The best second interview questions to ask are about expectations for that position, company goals and strategies, working conditions, management styles, and how you can add value quickly. Your questions should be custom designed for that company and specific to the position.

Here are the 10 questions that I consider most relevant to ask in a second interview. I estimate that only about 25% of the candidates I’ve interviewed in the second round ask any of these questions. Too bad, because these are the questions that candidates who make it to the third round ask.


The 10 Best Questions to Ask In Your Second Interview

  1. Can you tell me more about a typical day for this position?
  2. What would you say is the biggest challenge for this position?
  3. How would you describe the company culture?
  4. What can you tell me about your management style? (only if the Hiring Manager is present)
  5. How is performance measured for this position?
  6. What does your ideal employee look like?
  7. Who are the main stakeholders supported by this position?
  8. What training and growth opportunities exist for this position?
  9. What is your favorite thing about working for this company?
  10. What are the next steps?

You won’t be able to ask all ten of these questions, so pick the three or four that you’re most interested in based on your experience so far.


The Best Question of All to Ask in a Second Interview

Although a hiring decision is not usually made after the second interview, there is one question you can ask that has a good chance of telling you if you’re a strong contender and if not why not.

NOTE: you should only ask this question at the very end of the interview. It should be the last thing you say in your second interview. Here it is.

“I’m convinced this is the job I want. What more do I need to do to convince you I’m the best person?”

I actually asked this question myself once when I was interviewing for a management position at a Fortune 500 financial services company. It was at the end of the third interview, rather than the second, but it can be asked any time after the first interview.

The answer I got went like this: “Well, I’m pretty much convinced already. Expect a call from HR in the next day or so.”

As you can imagine, I danced out of that interview with a big smile on my face.

You may not get this same result. If not, you may get information about any lingering concerns they may have and you can address them right away.

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