Last updated: Mar 8, 2023
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You’ve done your initial phone screens. You’ve selected the candidates you want to know more about — and that means it’s time to decide what questions to ask them for their second interview.
Most common interview questions are designed to help you better understand the candidate and how they apply their skills and competencies in their work. Whether you choose to have the second interview in person or via video call, it’s important to prepare your questions before the interview.
In this article, we’ll help you do just that. We’ll cover:
Note: If you haven’t read our 10-step recruitment guide you can get a complete overview of the entire recruitment process here.
Let’s dive in.
Before the candidate arrives on site or online, it’s important to prepare for the interview. By this, we don’t just mean writing out the common interview questions listed below.
To ensure that you go into the interview well prepared, you should:
Now that you’re prepared, let’s get into our list of common interview questions for the second interview.
The purpose of the second interview is to get to know the candidate even better. You already have an idea of who the candidate is from the phone screen. Now it’s time to see if they’re a good fit for your org — something that goes beyond just having a promising resume.
Generally, common interview questions can be divided into three categories:
Combining these types of questions can give you a thorough understanding of the candidate and how likely they are to succeed in the role.
As a recruiter, you want to know your candidates’ behaviors — what they did in a specific situation and why they chose to do it.
There isn’t necessarily a right or a wrong answer to behavioral questions. They tend to be open questions that allow the candidate to describe a past scenario in their own words, followed by how they approached that situation.
As these questions focus on previous behavior, it’s important to note that the candidate might do things differently if faced with a similar situation. If you’re curious about this, you can always ask follow-up questions: “How come you chose to do that?” or, “Is there anything you would have done differently today?”
Competency-based interview questions help you learn more about the candidate’s skills, knowledge, and expertise. Answers to these questions should confirm that the candidate possesses the competences stated on their resume.
A great way to create competency-based questions is to combine tasks or situations relevant to the role you’re hiring for with competencies listed on the candidate’s resume. This helps you understand how the candidate might use those competencies to succeed in the role.
For example, if you’re hiring for a data scientist, you could ask the candidate what their favorite data visualization tools are and why.
Hypothetical and situational interview questions are similar to behavioral questions. The main difference is that hypothetical and situational questions help you get a sense of how the candidate would approach a specific situation or problem — and not necessarily one they’ve encountered before. These questions can give you a good sense of the candidate’s work ethic and attitude.
To get the most out of the hypothetical and situational questions, you should use real examples of situations, problems, or dilemmas that might occur in the role. For example, if you’re hiring for a customer service position, you could ask: “If a customer calls with a complaint about our service, how would you handle the situation?”
You probably won’t be the only one asking questions during the second interview. Most candidates want to know more about the role, the team they may become part of, and your company culture.
To help you prepare, here’s a selection of common questions candidates ask during the second interview:
Note: You don’t have to wait for the second interview to show candidates their potential team members. With an Org Chart, you can show candidates exactly how they fit into your org. Set up your company page and let The Org help you and your candidates prepare for the second interview.
The hiring process can feel long — and not just for you. A candidate who has made it to the second interview has been through many stages prior to it. When you wrap up the interview, make sure the candidate remains engaged.
Let the candidate know what comes after the interview and how many steps remain in the screening process. Tell them when they can expect to hear from you, and inform them of any further steps, such as a skill assessment or test project.
Depending on your screening process, now is a good time to reach out to the candidate’s references. By now, you should have a good idea of the candidate’s potential to succeed in the role and how well they would fit into your org. Talking to the candidate’s references can help you settle any final questions or uncertainties you may have about this.
Tip: Set aside time to rewrite your notes after the interview — just like you did after the phone screen. This way, the interview is still fresh in your mind, which makes it much easier for you to decode your own notes. This is also a good opportunity to summarize the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses for future reference.
Our list of common interview questions for the second interview should help you better understand the candidate and determine if they’re a good fit for your org.
To ensure that you get the most out of the interview, you should:
After the second interview, you’ve hopefully gathered enough information about your candidates to decide who is the right fit for the role. Let’s move on to the next topic in our 10-step guide: how to make the final hiring decision.
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