If you’re preparing for a second job interview, you’re in the right place.
I’m going to share the top second round interview questions… based on my experience as a recruiter.
You’re also going to get tips for answering and the common variations for each question so that you’re fully-prepared and NEVER caught off-guard in the interview!
By the end of this article, you’ll be confident and ready to win the job!
Here are the top questions to expect in your second interview…
Can you walk me through your resume?
This is one of the first questions you’ll likely hear. They may also ask, “What can you tell me about yourself?”
In both cases, they want to learn about you as a professional, so this isn’t the time to share personal facts.
Keep your answer brief and go chronologically through your career, talking about what you feel is most important and relevant to this job you’re interviewing for!
Note that it’s okay to start mid-way through your career if you feel the start of your career is no longer relevant! This is a good option if you’re an older worker with more experience. For example, you could begin by saying, “Well, I’ve been a Manager for the past 10 years…”
That’s how you could begin at a mid-point in your career!
No matter what, you should think of this as a highlight reel, not a chance to talk for five minutes and share every single thing you’ve done. Your total answer should be one to two minutes maximum!
In your answer, explain:
- Relevant positions you’ve held
- Key career moves you’ve made and why
- Big accomplishments/key projects
I also like to end my answer by explaining what I’m looking for next in my career. For example, you could conclude by saying:
“And right now, I’m looking to make the step up to a Senior Manager or Director position, so that’s why I applied for this role. I saw on the job description that you need someone with an extensive background in ___, so I felt this could be a great potential fit.”
Also, bring a few copies of your resume to every interview. That will help you when giving your answer, and you’ll have extra copies to hand out to any interviewers who need it!
What were you responsible for in your last job?
This is one of the most common questions you’ll hear in any second interview.
Be ready to explain your key responsibilities and accomplishments over the past few years, and always think about the job you’re interviewing for so you can highlight the pieces of your work that are most relevant to this employer!
For example, if you supervised and trained a few people in your last job, but it was only 20% of your duties, you should still mention that VERY early in your answer if you’re interviewing for a Supervisor or Manager position now! (Because leadership is important in this next role!)
Employers may also ask you, “What was your greatest achievement?”
So review what you accomplished and did in your most recent job. Maybe it’s been a while since you reviewed the results you got for the company. You want to be ready to give a clear, confident answer when asked, so practice ahead of time.
Also expect similar questions in your second interview, like, “What did a typical day at your previous job look like?” or, “How did you measure job performance?”
Why do you want to work here?
Next, if you’re meeting this interviewer for the first time, they’re probably going to ask about why you’re interested in this particular job.
So before your second interview, review the job description and think about one or two reasons that you would enjoy the position.
What seems most attractive about the role? What about this job fits your goals? And what can you learn or do here that excites you?
The bottom line is: In the second round, you’re almost certain to face questions about why you want to work with them, and saying, “I just need a job,” isn’t good enough!
Everyone who applied needs a job, and employers often get 100 applicants, so they’re looking for more in the second round interview.
They may also ask, “What are you looking for in your next position?” That’s another common second interview question to expect.
If you hear this, be ready to name specific things you’re targeting in your next role. And make sure these are opportunities offered by the job you’re discussing! Otherwise, you might cost yourself the job offer.
Also, be ready for, “What do you know about the company?”
This is a common question that you could hear in any round of the interview process.
How do you make decisions?
This is a question that’s especially common in a second interview. In this second round, they’re trying to dive deeper into your behaviors and personality.
In general, when the hiring manager asks, “how do you make decisions?” they want to see that you’re calm and logical in your decision-making. So it’s best to show them that you follow a calm, logical process.
For example, you could say you weigh the likely outcomes and risks in a decision, and then choose the action that you feel will bring the best estimated result.
It’s not always possible to know how a decision will turn out, but the employer will feel a lot more comfortable hiring you and working with you if you show them that you try to make your best estimate/analysis!
What type of work environment do you prefer?
The first interview is mostly about your skills and figuring out if you can do the job. In a second round interview, you’ll start to see more questions like this one… designed to find out what you enjoy and how you’ll fit in with the team if they hire you.
So to prepare for this question, research the employer and determine what type of environment they seem to offer. Is it more relaxed or formal? Is it a large corporation or small start-up? Etc.
You can view the company website, Facebook page, Instagram, YouTube channel, and more to gather this info.
Then, try to give an answer that shows you’ll fit in with their environment and enjoy the work they offer. That’s going to go a long way toward making a hiring manager feel comfortable about hiring you in a second interview.
For more help, read full example answers to, “what type of work environment do you prefer?” here.
What are your strengths and what do you need to improve?
Next in a company’s list of second round interview questions, they’ll likely dig further into your skillset and technical abilities.
They established you could do the basics of the job in the first interview but now they want to know more.
And you’re also likely to be asked, “What do you need to improve?”
So to prepare, think about an area you’re trying to get better in, but make sure it’s not an area that’s crucial to this job on day one! For example, you don’t want to say your customer communication needs improvement if you’re interviewing for a customer service job.
However, you could say that you’re working on your leadership right now because you hope to move up to the Manager level eventually. That would be a good answer to this question!
Just be ready to give an example of how you’re working to improve in this area, since they may ask a follow-up question about this, too.
What motivates you?
Next, the interviewer will likely want to know what drives you and motivates you in general. And they want to hear something other than money.
Sure — hiring managers know that everyone comes to work to earn a paycheck.
But you get paid once every two weeks in the typical job, so they also want to know what’s going to motivate you on all those other days!
When things get tough or you face a challenge and you’re not getting paid again for a week and a half, they want to know how mentally tough and resilient you’re going to be that day!
So come up with something aside from money that drives you in your career and motivates you to do good work in your job!
Why did you leave your last job?
If you’re not currently working, employers are likely to ask about why you left your last position.
Don’t let your guard down even if you heard this in the first interview or phone interview, either… because if you’re talking to a new person in this second job interview, you could hear the same question again!
And if you’re currently working, be ready to answer, “Why are you looking to leave your current company?”
Don’t ever badmouth, though! It’s best to focus on the positive things you hope to gain next by switching jobs! I like to say:
“I learned a lot in my current role, but I feel it’s time for a change in order to expose myself to new challenges and continue growing in my career.”
(This answer works best if you’ve been in your current company for at least one to two years, though!)
What are your career goals?
Employers don’t just want to hire candidates for a few weeks or months (assuming this is a full-time, permanent position). They want someone who’s going to stay for a few years ideally.
It costs money and time to hire you and train candidates, so they see it as a pretty big loss/setback if you leave within the first 12 months. (That’s not their goal for how long you’ll stay; that’s just the minimum they’re hoping for!)
The most important thing to know here: They’re trying to confirm that their job fits your long-term goals. If their job seems unrelated to the career you say you want long-term, they’re unlikely to hire you.
They know you’ll be more motivated and stay longer if you’re learning skills that fit your bigger goals.
You may also hear this interview question in a final round interview with a CEO or other Executive, so be prepared for that, too.
Describe your ideal manager
You’ll typically hear this question when talking directly with the hiring manager (which usually happens in the second round).
The recruiter or HR person from the first interview told them that you have the basic skills for the job, but one thing the hiring manager wants to know is whether the two of you will work well together!
So that’s why they ask you to describe your ideal boss.
I recommend giving an answer that indicates you can work with a variety of managers. For example:
“I’ve worked under close supervision in the past, but also under managers who checked in very rarely and gave me a lot of freedom to operate. I did well in both types of roles and don’t feel I need one management style or the other to thrive. Do you fall into one of those categories more than the other as a Manager?”
Or, if you’re sure of this hiring manager’s style, you can be bolder and say that you enjoy working with managers of that style.
“I like a manager who gives me a lot of freedom and autonomy. I like to make decisions and be able to challenge myself and grow, which I do best under that type of leadership.”
But don’t say this if you’re unsure what type of leader this hiring manager is, or it could cost you the job!
For more answer examples, read this article.
How do you handle conflicts at work?
Be ready for questions about conflict and disagreements in your second round job interview.
They may ask you to describe how you handle conflicts in general, or they may ask a behavioral question, like, “Tell me about a time you disagreed with a coworker. How did you handle it?”
Your goal here is to show that you’re able to stay calm and think logically, and never take things personally or get emotional during a work disagreement.
Show that you keep the company’s needs in mind and that you’re willing to listen to the other person, compromise, and do what’s best for the company.
If a hiring manager hears this, they’re going to feel a lot more comfortable hiring you!
As a side note, the second round interview is where you’ll hear most behavioral interview questions in general. (Although some employers ask these questions throughout the interview process).
So prepare for behavioral questions like these, too:
- Tell me about a time you were under a lot of pressure at work. How did you handle it?
- How do you handle stress?
- Tell me about a time you had to make a quick decision without all of the necessary info.
- Tell me about a time when you failed. What happened?
How would your past coworkers describe you?
This is another second interview question designed to dig deeper into your personality and work style.
To prepare, think about some positive things that coworkers would say about you, and why.
The “why” is important, because the hiring manager is very likely to follow up and ask this!
So whatever you choose to say, make sure you have reasons to back it up.
Here’s a good example answer:
“My coworkers would describe me as someone who’s strong at problem-solving and who stays calm under pressure. In my last job, our team leader was out with a serious illness for a week, and we ran into a couple of last-minute issues during a big product launch. I stayed late every night, delegated tasks to the other team members, and made sure the launch went smoothly.”
Are you a leader or a follower?
Next, you’re likely to hear a second interview question like, “Are you a leader or a follower?”
Employers ask this to learn more about your work style and your long-term potential in the company.
If a job involves direct leadership or project management, they may also ask, “What is your leadership style?”
Now let’s talk about how to answer…
If you’re interviewing for an individual contributor role, it’s fine to say you’ve worked mostly (or only) as an individual contributor and that you enjoy this type of job. But if you do have aspirations to lead, it’s fine to say so! Just make sure you sound excited about the core responsibilities of the job you’ve applied for, too!
Example scenario (with a BIG mistake to avoid):
If you’re interviewing for a customer service representative job, you don’t want to say that you’re only taking the position because you eventually want to lead a team.
If you do this, the hiring manager is going to wonder whether you’ll be motivated to do the day-to-day work in this role.
So it’s much better to say:
“In the long term, I’d love to take on more leadership, however, I’m also comfortable working as part of a team. In the past, I’ve enjoyed individual contributor roles within customer service so I feel this role would be a good fit.”
Always remember: Hiring managers are thinking about their immediate needs. They want someone who’s motivated to take THIS job. They don’t just want someone who’s passionate about the company, or hard-working in general. They posted this job because they have specific work that needs to get done!
More Second Interview Preparation Steps
After you review these common second round interview questions above, make sure to prepare a few questions to ask the employer!
Companies always prefer to hire someone who’s asking good questions and seems interested in learning more about the job. So this is an essential step in any job search.
Also, review any questions you may have struggled with in the first interview. You can expect repeat questions if you’re talking to a new person in this second job interview.
For example, it’s common to have the first interview with an HR person and then speak to the hiring manager in the second round.
And it’s a big mistake to think, “HR asked me why I’m looking for a new position, so I don’t need to worry about that question anymore.”
I worked for years as a recruiter, and if I wasn’t quite comfortable with a candidate’s answer, I’d tell the hiring manager to ask it again in the next round!
I’d say, “Just so you know, I didn’t love their answer about why they’re looking for a new position, so make sure you address that in your interview.”
That’s the type of internal conversation that happens in a hiring process between your first and second rounds, so be ready!
If you follow these steps and tips, you’ll be well-prepared for a wide range of second interview questions so you can stay calm and win the job.
Other Second Interview Tips and Resources:
- Interview thank you note samples
- How to follow-up after an interview to get updates
- My best interview tips from working as a recruiter