Although getting a job offer after a first interview can be like a dream come true, in reality this sometimes does not happen. Instead, the hiring process sometimes includes, at a minimum. a second interview. Understanding the purpose of a second interview may help you prepare well enough so that when you get the call to come back in you also get the job.


Depending on the company, a second interview may be the hiring interview. Screening that takes place the first time around narrows the field and the second interview often determines whether you or another candidate gets a job offer. Because of this, the second interview usually focuses on you rather than your qualifications. From your perspective, a second interview is a chance to continue your evaluation of the position and company and make your own decisions as to whether this is the right opportunity for you.


With a focus on you, the purpose of a second interview is to accomplish three to four objectives. An interviewer may want to confirm a first impression, make a determination as to whether you, the company and the position are a good fit, evaluate your level of professionalism and possibly evaluate your social skills. In addition, an interviewer may have questions she did not ask during the first interview or want delve a little deeper into your skills and competencies.


A second interview often accomplishes its purpose by following a different interview format and time frame. Where your first interview may be with only one person, a second interview often involves interviewing in a small group or panel setting and in some cases, a combination of individual and group or panel interviews. These serve the purpose of evaluating your interpersonal and communication skills, leadership qualities, ability to think quickly and to see how well you handle stress. The time frame for your second interview may also be different, lasting anywhere from a few hours to all day. Individual interviews may occur back to back and/or include a lunch break.


Maintaining good eye contact is a second interview essential and especially important if you are interviewing with more than one person. When addressing a question a panel member asks, involve each panel member by looking at everyone rather than only the member asking the question. Whether or not you receive an interview agenda, prepare for the possibility of lunch or dinner by reviewing business dining etiquette. Everything has a purpose during a second interview, and a meal is no exception. An evaluation of you, and how you fit in the company, will continue before, during and after the meal. Finally, collect business cards from everyone you interview with and send a thank you note to each. It is just as important to send thank you notes after your second interview as after the first.