What to Expect in a Second Interview

Second interviews can make or break your chances of getting the job. Here’s what to expect.

You’ve managed to make a good impression on your prospective employer in your first meeting, landing yourself a second interview. It’s apparent that you’re in the running and that the employer believes you are suitable to perform the job, but perhaps there are other candidates who are still being considered. Remember, two round interviews are extremely commonplace in Japan.

It’s crucial to be well prepared for the second interview to set yourself apart from the crowd and convince the employer that you’re the best person for the job. Once you know what to expect, you can then plan accordingly. Here are nine second interview tips for you to plan ahead.

Greater focus on the details
The employer may scrutinise your CV, focusing on the qualifications and skills needed to succeed in the role. They’ll be looking out for someone who understands the ins and outs of the role as well as the company overall. You should be able to present your achievements and experience, particularly those which are transferable to the new role, to position yourself as an ideal candidate for the position.

A different format
Your second interview is likely to follow a different format from the first. It may be in the form of a conference call or Skype interview. If your initial meeting was a conventional question-and-answer session, the second may include an assessment, presentation or case study.

A different interviewer
In many cases, the second interview may also be conducted by a panel of interviewers. Expect face to face questions from senior stakeholders within the organisation who may want to assess the potential new recruits and weigh in on the final decision. If this happens, you won’t be able to fall back on any rapport you’ve developed with the interviewer in the previous meeting.

More challenging questions
Occasionally, employers may test candidates with difficult and unusual questions that may appear to be unrelated to the profession. Candidates who can cope with these unconventional questions are those who can think outside of the box and adapt to difficult situations under pressure – qualities that employers prize in their potential hires.

A time to query and clarify
Candidates should always be ready to ask questions of their own. Prepare any queries that weren’t clarified in the first interview to learn more about the job and the company culture. This way, you can decide if this is a job that allows you to truly love what you do, while also impressing the employer with your professionalism and insight.

Tying up loose ends
The employer will want to revisit any issues which may not have been properly clarified in the last interview. It's important to go over any possible improvements and prepare solid answers in case similar topics crop up again.

A tour of the workplace
During a second interview, it's possible that the employer will offer to give you a tour of their office or work facility. This is another opportunity for you to assess whether the job and company culture is the right fit for you.

Discussion about salary
The employer may not offer a discussion on remuneration; but in the case that the subject is raised during the interview, it's important to have consulted resources like the Robert Half Japan Salary Guide to establish your worth. You’ll be able to negotiate more effectively if you know where you stand in the job market.

What happens next?
At the end of a second interview, you should be informed on the next steps in the process and when a decision is likely to be made. In some circumstances, the employer may be ready to make you a job offer on the spot. It is best to politely ask the interviewer for some time to fully consider the offer, and give a time-frame for your answer. If the interviewer doesn't mention what comes next, do ask when they will be contacting you with any further updates.

Whether it’s your first or second interview, it’s always best to come prepared – when you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Read up on other interview tips, to ensure you’ll make the best impression on your prospective employers.

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