Not much is written about the second interview. This is the one after you are invited back from successfully passing the telephone screen and the first round of interviews. It’s the interview that will either provide you with an offer or make you the “also ran”. Without a plan or a strategy for the second interview, you are “winging” it: A high risk, low reward decision.
Second interviews with the hiring manager are special, because there are three elements that need to be covered at a higher level than previous interviews:
- Form a mutual “bond” with the hiring manager, better than the other finalist candidates. You need to relate and “talk the same language” in terms of the job that needs to be done and your ability to do it at a high level without a lot of handholding. The hiring manager should also have a good feeling about your interpersonal skills and ability to communicate effectively with him/her, peers and upper management. The hiring manager wants a loyal and supportive employee who will make the boss look good.
- Have a high level of competence and confidence so the boss, peers and subordinates will have no concern for your knowledge, skills or abilities. You’ll need to convince the hiring manager that you can not only provide solutions for the short-term issues, but also be able to anticipate and take a leadership position for future issues. In other words, provide your boss with support and competence to make his/her job easier. A sub-set of this element is to project the ability to broaden out and take on greater responsibilities in the future. The boss doesn’t want a one-trick-pony.
- Be compatible and fit with the culture of the organization. This element is critical. You need to demonstrate that you are a problem-solver and not a problem child, a team player and not a diva, a results-oriented loyal employee and not a political animal. This element is the most difficult to define because you can’t experience the culture until you’re in it. You can, however, discuss this with the boss during the interview in a way that demonstrates that you understand the issue and want to be as productive and compatible as possible. It will go a long way to answering the boss’ question.
So what can you do to prepare for this second interview?
- Look up the boss, other bosses and peers on Google, LinkedIn and other network profile databases. These profiles will give you an insight into their backgrounds, experiences and sometimes provide you with an outline of what’s important and what isn’t.
- Practice with a mentor or someone at the same level or higher than the hiring manager. Choose words and gestures that will reinforce the three elements above.
- Go over the notes from the telephone screen and first interview. This information should reveal the key issues needing resolution within the open position
Always look at the hiring process through the eyes of the boss, rather than through your own eyes. You may see yourself in a different light.