Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Hire reliable workers faster

Finding the best fit for a position you’re hiring for is intense. It requires critical thought and can be draining. While reviewing resumes and screening applicants will give you a pool of qualified candidates, how can you ensure you make the right hire at the end of the day?

Second interviews are a crucial component of the hiring process that ultimately leads to a hiring decision. Continue reading to learn what a second interview is, why it’s important, how to conduct a second interview and what questions to ask!

What is a Second Round Interview?

A second round interview is the formal interview conducted after a candidate passes through their preliminary screening interview. This interview is typically conducted face-to-face on-site, though remote roles and video conferencing services have led to an increase in virtual second interviews.

The candidate pipeline can be easily organized when you use an HR software program like Eddy. With Eddy, you can keep track of all of your applicants, how many interviews they’ve had, where they are in the pipeline, and notes you’ve taken for each one. See Eddy in action by requesting a demo today!

What’s the Difference Between a First and Second Interview?

While a first-round interview is used to screen a larger pool of candidates that met the minimum requirements in resume review, a second interview digs deeper into a smaller list of candidates. Second interviews are typically longer than a screening interview, ranging from one hour to a full day.

Why Arrange a Second Interview?

Second round interviews allow you to:

  • Conduct a thorough evaluation of the most qualified candidates’ skills, abilities, and personality traits
  • Explore further the cultural fit of each candidate
  • Identify which candidate stands out from the rest

Who Should Be Involved in a Second Round Interview?

The individuals involved in a second round interview vary depending on the position. At a minimum, the hiring manager will conduct the interview all the way through.

You can also consider a panel interview or an interview process with several interviewers. A role that relies on teamwork and collaboration might warrant a group interview. Incorporate potential supervisors that the position will report to and any co-workers who will work directly with the candidate selected.

How Do I Conduct a Second Interview?

When planning a second interview, set a specific itinerary and follow it accordingly. The specific steps of your second interview will vary depending on the position and other circumstances. For example, if you are conducting the second interview virtually you won’t be able to give the candidate a tour of the facility.

In general, a second round interview will include the following steps:

1. Welcome the Candidate

Whether you meet the candidate yourself or have an assistant handle that task, greet them warmly. Engage in small talk to help ease their nerves and, if time permits, give them a tour of the facility.

When it’s time to begin, walk the candidate to the room you’ll be interviewing in and offer them water, coffee, or tea before commencing.

2. Provide an Agenda for the Interview

Second interviews can be stressful for candidates and uncertainty will fuel their nerves. To set the tone of the interview, walk the candidate through the agenda for the interview.

A typical second interview itinerary might include:

  • Asking the candidate a series of prepared questions
  • Sharing information about the role and organization
  • Allowing the candidate to ask questions about the role and organization

3. Ask Behavioral Interview Questions

To gain a better understanding of the candidate’s skills, abilities, and personality traits, ask behavioral-based interview questions. These questions dive into past experience which is often the best predictor of future behavior.

After you’ve asked your prepared questions, you should have an idea of how qualified the candidate is for the role based on their previous experiences.

4. Complete Any Pre-employment Testing

This step is optional, but some employers prefer to conduct pre-employment testing during the second interview. These tests evaluate the candidate’s skills and abilities as they relate to the specific role.

Make sure that the tests are work-related and non-discriminatory if you choose to conduct them during the interview.

5. Describe the Position and the Organization

Once you’ve completed the questioning portion of the interview, take time to provide the candidate with specific information about the position and the organization. Specifically, elaborate on:

  • The day-to-day responsibilities of the role
  • Your organizational culture, work environment, and management styles

6. Allow the Candidate to Ask Questions about the Position and Organization

Open up the floor for the candidate to ask any questions about the position or organization before concluding the interview. In doing so, you will tie up any loose ends or uncertainties they may have and gain additional insight into their personality through the questions they ask.

7. Explain the Next Steps

Before the candidate leaves the interview, be clear about the next steps in the process. Let the candidate know:

  • How long you anticipate it will take to make a hiring decision
  • What additional information they may need to provide
  • In what form you will communicate whether they’ve been selected

Other Second Round Interview Tips to Keep in Mind

The steps above will help you develop a strategic itinerary to get the most out of your second round interview. To make sure the process runs smoothly, here are a few additional second round interview tips:

  • Make the interviewer comfortable — greet them warmly and inform them of every step
  • If the interview is on video, don’t begin right away — make sure to include small talk at the beginning
  • Follow all laws and regulations in your questions, only asking job-related questions
  • Create an evaluation form that standardizes the rating for each candidate

Questions to Ask in a Second Interview

Through screening interviews, you’ve gained the basic information required to assess whether a candidate is a strong fit for the position. In their second interview, utilize behavioral interview questions to learn about specific experiences where the candidate’s skills and abilities were applied.

Consider using the STAR approach when preparing your interview questions. This approach includes:

  • Situation: Describing a specific situation
  • Tasks: Describing the tasks involved in their approach to the situation
  • Actions: Walking you through the actions they took to complete the task
  • Results: Summarizing the results of the action they took

Can you walk me through your resume?

To ease into the conversation and revisit their previous roles, ask the candidate to walk you through their resume. This will give you a high-level overview of their experience in each position and highlight any accomplishments or skills that are relevant to the position they are interviewing for.

A strong candidate will have upward career progression and an increase in responsibilities with each position. Additionally, look for candidates to highlight information they feel is important that you may have overlooked in the resume review.

Tell me about a time you had to make a difficult decision. How did you handle the process?

Difficult decisions are stressful to make and require strategic thinking. This question will give you a real-world example of how the candidate was able to form a strategic plan and take responsibility to see the decision through.

Confidence and critical thinking are two qualities you want to see in a candidate as they respond to this question.

Tell me about a time when you had too much to do and not enough resources. How did you overcome this challenge?

By asking the candidate about a time where they had too much on their plate and were strapped for resources, you’re gauging their ability to handle pressure and be flexible.

A strong candidate will provide a specific example of how they remained calm through a stressful situation and persevered to complete the task.

Tell me about a time you made a mistake. How did you correct it?

This question assesses a candidate’s character in owning up to their mishaps. It also provides another example of how they can handle stressful situations and overcome challenges.

If a candidate cannot think of a mistake they made, that can be a red flag that they aren’t willing to own up to it and might not be a cultural fit for your organization.

Describe a time when you disagreed with a team member. How did you resolve the issue?

This question assesses the candidate’s problem-solving and conflict resolution skills. Learning about how they work through disagreements with other members of a team can help assess their ability to succeed in a collaborative environment.

Look for a candidate who approached the conflict in a thoughtful and professional manner. The way they handle conflict can measure their flexibility to adapt for the greater good of the team.

What accomplishments have given you the most pride and why?

Delving into a candidate’s accomplishments tells a lot about their motivations and career aspirations. Their answer can give you an idea of their work ethic and priorities.

Look for responses that align with tasks they may face in the day-to-day responsibilities of the position and the culture of your organization.

What plans have you made to achieve your career goals?

Not only does this question tell you about their preparedness and proactiveness, but it also lets you know what their long-term aspirations are.

A candidate that clearly outlined their career goals and specific steps to achieve those goals is likely to bring that same attention to detail and planning to your organization.

Can you give an example of how you’ve contributed to the culture of previous teams, companies, or groups?

This question is aimed at assessing the candidate’s cultural fit within the organization. The best fit for your organization will have values aligned with those of the company. If the candidate is unable to provide examples of contributing to a culture in the past, it could be a red flag that they may not be aligned with your organization’s values.

Why are you a strong candidate for this position?

Conclude the interview with a question that forces the candidate to sell you on why they’re the best choice for the role. This question will lead the candidate to review the relevant skills and abilities they possess and display their level of self-awareness.

The ideal response from a candidate will leave you confident that the individual possesses the:

  • Necessary skills to complete the role
  • Personality traits to thrive within the organizational culture.

Questions That Candidates May Ask You

When a candidate makes it to a second round interview, it means that you’ve expressed interest in potentially hiring them. Because they know they’re more likely to get the job now that they’ve been interviewed a second time, candidates will feel comfortable asking questions they might not have wanted to ask during their first interview. 

At this point, candidates aren’t just trying to sell themselves to the company—you need to sell the company to them! It’s important that you answer their questions honestly, in a way that will keep them interested in working for you. Here are just a few examples of questions candidates might ask you during a second interview.

Is There Anything I Can Clarify for You About My Qualifications?

This is a great question because it gives candidates a chance to talk themselves up a little without seeming too self-involved. It’s also a great opportunity for you. Is there anything that you want to know about this person that they haven’t said yet? If you feel like you already have a good understanding of their basic qualifications, feel free to ask a question expanding on what they’ve already shared. For example, you might ask, “How would [X qualification] help you in a situation like [Y]?”

What Would a Typical Day Look Like in This Role?

While the candidate probably would have asked you about the job roles and responsibilities in the first interview, now they’ll want to know what those look like in practice. In addition to asking about the day-to-day responsibilities, they may also ask who they’ll report to and what the team looks like. 

How Would You Describe the Company Culture?

Company culture plays a big role in an employee’s job satisfaction, so it’s understandable that candidates would want to know if they would fit well into your organization’s culture. Similarly, they may also take this opportunity to ask about the company’s mission, vision, and values.

What Type of Management Style Do You Have?

If you’re the manager of the role you’re trying to fill, this is a chance for you to talk about your leadership style. Every leader is different, and every employee responds differently to various leadership styles. Answer this question honestly, letting the candidate know what motivates you as a leader and what you expect from the people who report to you. If you won’t personally be managing the new hire, just give a general overview of the company’s management style and philosophy.

When Can I Expect Your Hiring Decision?

This may not be a very conversation-provoking question, but it’s likely to be one of the most important ones for the candidate. Talented job seekers rarely apply for just one job—they apply for several positions, keeping their options wide open. If you’re not clear about when they’ll receive a decision, they may decide to go with another offer before you even have a chance to extend yours. Before the interview, know what you’ll say when a candidate asks you when they’ll hear back. 

What to Do After the Second Interview

You’ve interviewed each of your most promising candidates a second time. Now what? This section will walk through the remaining steps in the hiring process.

Step 1: If Necessary, Conduct More Interviews 

You might know who you’d like to hire after the second interview. If so, great! You can move forward with the hiring process. However, you may choose to conduct additional interviews. If you’re hiring for a senior-level position, it’s likely that you’ll need more interviews than two. 

Step 2: Complete Pre-Employment Screening

Once you identify a candidate you’d like to hire, don’t send them an offer letter quite yet. Before confirming that this is the person you want, verify the information they’ve given you. You’ll want to do a reference check, where you’ll contact the references that the candidate has provided and make sure they were being honest about their role. 

In addition, it’s important to conduct a background check on potential employees. Background check types include a social security number trace, employment and education verification, criminal records, credit history, driving history, and drug testing. 

Step 3: Decide Who to Hire

The candidate excelled in their interviews, they received glowing references, and their background check came back clean. You’re finally ready to make a formal decision to hire this person! 

Step 4: Send Offer Letter (and Rejection Letters)

Though it’s tempting to focus your time and attention on only the candidate you’re going to hire, don’t forget to follow up with the others who took the time to apply. Send them a rejection letter thanking them for their interest and letting them know they didn’t get the position. 

Before sending a formal offer letter, extend a verbal offer to the candidate you want to hire and tell them that a written offer is on the way. In their written letter, include all the information they need to know about their new position, including the start date, salary, benefits, and reporting relationships.

Step 5: Onboard Your New Hire

Once the candidate has signed their offer letter, you’re ready to get them started with the onboarding process. 

How Eddy Hire Can Help With Second Interviews

In the early stages of hiring, a lot goes on behind the scenes, and things have the potential to get messy. Once you move into second round interviews, things are even more complicated. Add multiple members of the hiring team to the mix, and it can be tricky to keep feedback about candidates organized and consistent across the board.

With Eddy Hire, every person involved in the hiring process can leave feedback on candidates as they move through the hiring pipeline. This includes written notes, ratings, and even emoji reactions. Eddy Hire also streamlines the interview scheduling process by including a calendar link in automated emails. Candidates who are chosen for an interview use the link to schedule their interview on their own time, helping them feel empowered—and saving time for the hiring team. 

Second Round Interviews Are Vital

A second round interview is an important step in identifying the top candidate for the role you’re hiring. By determining who should take part in the interview and how the itinerary should be structured, you can assure that everything runs smoothly. Ask behavioral questions that assess the skills and abilities required for the role and make the right choice for your organization. Also consider using an HR software program like Eddy which helps you to keep your entire candidate pipeline organized and automated. Request a demo today to see how Eddy can save you hours a week on HR processes just like this.

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Questions You’ve Asked Us About Second Round Interviews

Try to limit your final list of candidates to 2-3 individuals. Otherwise, you will likely have to conduct another round of interviews to narrow down a “final” final list. Additionally, you may become fatigued if you have to conduct several interviews on the same day.
You should not make the candidate wait a long time before contacting them. Aim to contact the candidate within 7-14 days of the interview. This gives you enough time to conduct background checks, contact references, and come to your final decision.
If you are unable to come to a decision after the second interview, you can schedule as many additional rounds of interviews as necessary. Depending on the level of the role, it may require additional interviews. However, additional rounds of interviews can extend an already lengthy hiring process.

Eddy is the all-in-one HR tool built with you in mind. The robust features and ease of use will benefit your company both inside and outside your HR team.

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