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Sarah Mandeville


Recruitment Manager

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The do’s and don’ts of a second interview


Second interviews are not always essential – I have made successful hires from first interviews, having identified and assessed the key traits and experience I wanted the candidate to demonstrate at the first stage.

However this is often not the case; despite utilising experienced interviewers who probe in all the right places, second interviews are an ideal opportunity to ensure you are hiring the right candidate to fulfil your role by assessing them further. There is also the added advantage of being able to set tasks to challenge the candidate, such as presentations or case studies if appropriate.

The opportunity of a second interview is one most candidates are delighted to have. At this stage, you believe you have a selection of the highest calibre of candidates in the market to choose from. Do not then make the mistake of forgetting you are there to impress too.

Ensure you are fully prepared by taking note of the following do's and don’ts of a second-stage interview:

  • Do set expectations. Candidates should be made aware that they are not the only individual selected to attend this stage (if this is indeed the case). Some candidates wrongly assume they have made a sufficient impression and that they are a shoe in for the job. They need to be aware that there is competition, and will then try even harder to impress rather than acting overly confident.
  • Don’t have the second interview at the same time of day as the first. On occasions this may not be possible if a candidate is meeting you on their lunch break. However it is an ideal way of assessing the candidate’s behaviour at different times of the day.  If your second interview is at 9am, is the candidate as prepared as they were if the first interview was at 2pm?  Were they on time or stressed by the traffic or their commute? In addition, holding interviews at this time as well as a 4.30pm interview will allow the candidate to see what the commute will be like to and from work on a daily basis – is it as they thought it would be?
  • Do invite different interviewers to attend. These different people do not have to be a manager or a senior appointment, but colleagues in a similar role as you are interviewing for as they can give great insight, views and opinions. They can sometimes offer more accurate answer to questions the candidate may ask about the day-to-day duties of the role. It will also give the candidate the opportunity to see who they will be working with as part of the wider team.
  • Don’t forget it’s your turn to shine. Do not leave all the impressing to the candidate. At this stage, candidates are making their decision too, such as  'will I get on with this person as my line manager?’ and ‘is this role and this company where I see my next career move?’. You must pre-empt questions that the candidate may not address with you. Make sure you have discussed every necessary detail of the role as well as promoting yourself and the company.
  • Do repeat some questions. You don’t want to be sitting in front of the same candidate repeating yourself, yet if you ask the question at the beginning of the first interview, ‘why are you leaving your current role?’, and then ask the same question more casually at the end of the second interview, chances are there will be a different answer. At this stage you will have built a relationship with the candidate; they are more at ease and willing to share more with you than they did when you first met as strangers.
  • Don’t leave any stone unturned. Some of the most valuable time spent in a second interview is addressing any concerns you had after the first stage. Have your questions prepared to address these; if you are not in attendance yourself, share these reservations with colleagues who are. Each interviewer must have their own personal opinion of the candidate, however it is essential that they are aware of your feedback – be honest. If you don’t highlight a concern now at interview stage, three months later you may be re-recruiting.
  • Do show the candidate around the office if possible. Introducing them to the team is not always appropriate, but allowing them to see any facilities in the building that may be attractive or particularly beneficial to them (e.g. parking, canteen, games room) and a brief tour of the office they may be working in will help them feel more comfortable about deciding whether your company is right for them.

It’s decision time – don’t get to this point without being able to make one. Preparation, effective questioning, along with self and company promotion are key to a successful second interview and an accepted offer of employment.

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Sarah Mandeville

Recruitment Manager

Read more from Sarah Mandeville

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