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Common second interview questions and how to answer them

If your potential new employer asked for a second interview, congratulations! It means the hiring manager wants to get a little more information to see what you might bring to the table. Depending on how it goes, you might get an offer by the end of the interview. That said, second interview questions are usually a little tougher because the hiring manager is going to want specific answers. It's common for more than one person to conduct a second interview.

Still, if you impressed someone once, you can do it again. Let's go over the most likely second interview questions you'll be asked and how to answer them.

Second interview questions you might hear

During the first interview, you probably talked about your skills and experience. All that remains is figuring out the type of role you can fit in the company and settling any final concerns. Let's get to the most common second interview questions.

What value can you add to our company if hired?

Be as specific as possible about the contributions you think you can make. It helps to look past transferrable skills and think about what makes you an asset to the company.

Sample answer for retail manager position: "I've been working in retail for 10 years, and during that time I gained a lot of experience in customer service. I've always liked working in a team and felt comfortable taking on a leadership role when needed at my previous job."

Sample answer for sales associate position: "In my last position, I consistently brought in monthly sales 60% above average in the first year. In the following two years, I maintained that standard even as the average sales numbers in the office started decreasing due to economic factors."

What management style do you prefer?

If the person interviewing you will be your manager, try to gauge what they prefer in their employees. Like many second interview questions, it pays to be honest and confident. If you thrive under a hands-off management style, say so. If you need a little more communication, you can be honest about that, too.

Sample answer for operations analyst position: "I usually do best in an environment where I'm allowed to be on my own for a few hours. I prefer to be left to my own devices until I'm ready to submit my project or task. If I'm ever in a leadership position, I adopt the same attitude. I know the importance of stepping back and letting coworkers handle an issue. Also, if other team members ever need more frequent contact, I provide it in a way that doesn't interrupt anyone."

Sample answer for office manager position: "My management style is to understand my team's needs and arrange the daily workflow based on proficiency and interest. I look for group or individual training opportunities where applicable. My goal is for the whole office to do better by creating an environment where people are rewarded for trying harder and thinking creatively."

What is your biggest weakness?

We all have flaws that make us unique. Be honest and offer something that's actually negative, and discuss how you're working on it. You could be honest about a certain minor skill you don't have yet or even admit a common phobia like public speaking. The best answers show a sense that no weakness is bigger than you and that you're always seeking a way to get better.

Sample answer for electrician apprentice position: "My biggest weakness is probably taking on too many responsibilities sometimes. I want everything to go well if possible. I understand that this field involves meticulous work that can't be rushed. Right now, I'm working on the best possible balance of taking initiative and double-checking with others."

Sample answer for teacher assistant position: "I recently learned that fear of public speaking is the most common phobia. I've been nervous about public speaking my whole life and would love to use an assistant teacher's job to test my comfort zone. My dream is to be a teacher eventually, so I need to have conquered any fear of public speaking, eventually."

What was the hardest decision you ever made at work?

Decision-making is highly valued in every workplace. When you upload a resume to a career website where it gets seen by hiring managers, you'll probably be asked this question at some point. Try to answer in a way that matches the company culture.

You might also hear a similar question: "Have you ever solved a difficult situation at work?" Either question is a chance to use the STAR method to tell a story about how your decision solved a problem. The STAR method breaks down into these steps:

  • Situation: some sort of difficult or surprising circumstances that you solved.
  • Task: something that needed to be done to resolve the situation.
  • Action: something you did to get the task completed.
  • Result: how things got better as a result of your actions.

Sample answer for social media specialist position: "In my past job, sometimes clients new to social media didn't understand why certain content ideas or messages could be seen as exclusionary. If other members of my team went along with the client's misunderstanding, it could've wasted weeks of progress. By breaking down my perspective and the different results I've seen, I helped these clients understand why one idea might be better than another. As a result, client relationships usually improved and produced higher standards of work."

Sample answer for software engineer position: "In my last place of work, an issue came up related to training for a sudden shift in the company's products. When other software engineers talked about the technical shortcomings they felt they had, I confided some of my own and answered theirs with what I knew. I regularly encouraged everyone to communicate and collaborate until the group felt more secure with the changes. Word spread, and I was later put in charge of a workplace training program for fellow software engineers for the next four months."

Questions to ask at a second interview

The hiring manager may ask if you have any questions about the job. Here are some you can ask:

  • Why is this position open?
  • How does your department fit within the company?
  • What challenges is the company currently facing?
  • If you hired me, what would you expect in the first three months?

As long as it's clear you're ready to contribute, you can ask any questions you have during a second interview. The more detailed you can get about your place in the company, the better.

Confidently answer your second interview questions

After the first job interview, the company decided you could be the right fit for the job. A second interview provides more details about how the arrangement might work. Ideally, after a great second interview, you'll walk out with the job. If they say they'll inform you, give them some time; a second interview is a good sign.

Once you have a follow-up interview booked, stay confident. A few composed, sensible answers to your employer's remaining questions will greatly boost your chances of getting hired.

More tips for nailing a job interview:

Before even a first interview, memorize the tough interview questions to expect.

Learn the best and worst words to put on a resume.

Plan ahead so you know how to answer why you left your last job.

Memorize a few easy ways to calm interview nerves.

Consider what to wear at different job interviews based on the company.