10 Second Interview Questions to Make the Right Hiring Decision

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10 Second Interview Questions to Make the Right Hiring Decision

You finally met the perfect candidate: impressive resume, great pre-assessment tests results, an excellent first interview. What more does it take for a company or a hiring manager to make a decision? Is this candidate the best you could retain in your organization, or do you want to smooth out more details before signing the contract? Here come the second interview questions! The first interview is usually the prerogative of recruiters. In the second interview, hiring managers, the CEO, a panel of experts, and even some employees actively evaluate a candidate. If you wonder what else you could ask a person, we are here to discuss second-round interview questions, their purpose, and the answers to pay attention to before you hire your next rock star.

When, Why, and How Should You Conduct a Second Interview?

As we all know, the first interview is just a warm-up. Most likely, you prepared and conducted an interview focused on skills and experience. You aimed to correlate your pre-employment skills test results with personality inventories’ results, the candidate’s resume info, and probably the answers you obtained from the applicant’s referees. Most of the time, the first interview is structured, leaving little room for exploration.

The second interview goes deeper. In most cases, the candidate has to meet new faces – people who have a saying in the hiring decision. The meeting can happen in person or during a video call. Some companies define the second interview as a series of one-on-one calls and gatherings with key actors in the company: executives, senior managers, team leads, some coworkers, and so on.

For this reason, job interview questions take many forms. Each hiring manager and each employee discussing with a candidate has a personal approach. For the best evaluation possible without bias or mistakes, you should spend some time optimizing your candidate interview scorecard. It helps all “interviewers” to be on the same page and avoid slips.

What Questions to Ask in a Second Interview?

During the second interview, you have full freedom to prepare and ask behavioral questions in a semi-structured conversation highlighting the candidate’s personality, attitudes, values, soft skills, and so on.

Now is the time and place to ask your candidate some of the tough questions we mentioned on another occasion. You can push the pedal on self-awareness and self-management, organizational core values, collaboration, conflict management, leadership traits, and so on.

Overall, the second interview, no matter the form it takes, should help you understand your candidate enough to decide whether you are an excellent pair for each other. If you need to decide to hire one of two (or more) candidates in a tie, the second interview will lift the fog of doubt.

10 Sample Second Round Interview Questions to Help Hiring Managers Make the Best Decision

what kind of questions are asked on a second interview

The first thing you need to do for a second interview is to list all the questions you consider important and select the ones that bear the most weight in your hiring decision. Since they are not common interview questions to “grill” the candidate regarding education, work experience, or “vision of the future five years,” you need to give this process some thought.

If you want to act as a behavioral psychologist, you could introduce some questions you already asked during the first interview. Control questions are the heart of personality inventories and diagnosis tools, after all. If you want to see whether a candidate changed an opinion/attitude towards a specific topic since your last meeting, it is important to do so. You also want to check the candidate’s consistency subtly.

1. What do you want to learn in your new position?

If you did not ask your candidate about the learning and growing opportunities of the new position, the second interview is the perfect moment to do so. This question helps you learn plenty about a person:

  • Why do they want your job?
  • Do they want to learn new skills or boost the ones they already have?
  • Are they on an ascending career journey, or do they want to perform the same tasks as always but in a different office?

You also get a better glimpse of whom you have to work with for your reskilling and upskilling programs with this question. This question elicits answers going beyond hard, measurable skills. The candidate could talk about matters related to personal growth, values, challenges, etc. It is one thing to invite people to offer you a well-rehearsed speech about why they want to leave their current employer and another to provoke them to tell you why they want to work for you.

2. What challenges do you lack at your current job?

This question taps into candidates’ professional self-awareness, too, while focusing on their perceived career journey. Some candidates will tell you about how your client portfolio is appealing to them or how they could learn new skills while working for you.

Underneath the surface, we are asking them the same things: “why do you want to leave your current job” and “what do you think makes you a good addition to our company.”

However, not many hiring managers or CEOs ask this question, unfortunately. Most of them stop when the candidate answers, “I want more professional challenges; this is why I want to leave my former employer.” But what challenges may those be?

Again, you should expect a speech focused on professional growth, but don’t dismiss candidates who tell you they want to learn how to work better in larger teams, for instance.

3. What three things would you take on a deserted island?

You can ask this out-of-the-blue question that has nothing to do with the job description to learn a few things in a non-conventional manner:

  • How the candidate responds to a sudden challenge;
  • Whether the candidate is a practical person (takes a tent, fire, water, supplies, etc.) or a more creative one (books and music, arts & crafts supplies, camera, diary, etc.);
  • How the candidate employs spot-on problem-solving skills;
  • What makes the candidate happy?

4. Do you have to deal with some misconceptions from your peers? What are they?

Even if we are not celebrities, we all have a “reputation” among coworkers, family members, and friends. People fight against misconceptions or prejudice all the time. This question amounts to the candidate’s self-perception and dealing with the perception of others. Moreover, it tells you something about how they deal with criticism.

Some may talk about how they are seen as introverts when, in fact, they take their time listening to others and trying to understand better some contexts. Others will tell you people say they are obsessive when, in fact, their attention to detail makes them perfectionists.

Please pay attention to the words your candidates use, their tone of voice, body language, etc. It is important to learn why some people have those misconceptions about them. Ask about what they do to clarify those mistaken beliefs.

5. What are you going to miss the most about your former workplace?

If the answer is “nothing,” you should review your notes from the first interview and recall the information you obtained during your reference checking process. The purpose of this question is to help you learn more about:

  • How the candidates weigh and evaluate their pros and cons, options, and opportunities;
  • The candidates’ focus: coworkers, work conditions, benefits, their manager, the clients, other opportunities, etc.

You can go even deeper and ask the candidate what they intend to do at the current job to make them miss those things less or compensate for what they will miss.

6. What are the things you are not going to miss about your current/former workplace?

If you are going to go on this path, go all the way. Most candidates will instantly understand what you are looking for with this question, but some will fall into the trap.

Please make a note about the ones badmouthing their managers, complaining about the tasks or their colleagues, and showing resentful sentiments. While no one will deadpan admit they hated their job and everything/everyone about it, you can pick things up from their wording, body language, voice, etc.

You want to learn what triggers your future employee and where they place their values. Unpaid overtime keeping them away from their families is an issue that might warrant future discussions.

7. What is the most comfortable leadership/management style for you?

Allow them to describe their “perfect boss” and “perfect work environment” without bias or prejudice. Ideally, you should very well know what the dominant leadership style in your company is.

Moreover, if you advertise your organization as one with democratic, transformational, or coaching leadership, make sure you speak the truth. All too many times, companies omit to reveal they work with a host of micro-managers or authoritarian/bureaucratic leaders.

This question’s purpose is clear: you want to learn more if your company and the candidate can complete each other from a cultural standpoint.

8. Is there anything you would like to discuss/clarify from your past interview?

Such a question helps you understand more about a candidate’s communication skills and attention to key details. Elite candidates usually revisit their first interview, take notes, or develop pertinent questions for their future employers.

Some candidates might ask you for more details about your client portfolio, processes, growth strategy, etc. Others will want to know how you reward performance beyond salary or bonuses.

It is a crucial second interview question, and you have to be ready to listen to your candidates.

9. What do you consider a good salary for this position?

You have many ways to address this question, especially if you did not touch the money subject during the first interview. As second interview questions go, you should not let this one pass. Candidates can spell out a sum or a “price range.” The idea here is that both of you are open to further discussions. Top-tier candidates know exactly at what salary level they are, based on their skills and experience.  

10. Do you have any more questions for me?

It would help if you did not let this second interview question slide, either. As we mentioned before, the candidates’ questions for the hiring manager speak volumes about who they are and what they want. It would be best if you were ready to answer all of them.

If your candidate asks you about the next steps of the hiring process (a third interview, an official offer coming after a while, etc.), make sure you give them the full details, and you keep in touch with them.

Second Interview Questions: Final Considerations

Most second interviews contain questions regarding the past interview or the salary, so keep them for further use. Nevertheless, you should tailor your second interview depending on what you asked during the first and what you want to learn from the applicants. If you have a tiebreak and a hard time deciding between them, here are some additional strategic questions to insert in your interview!

As always, we want your opinion on this matter! What are the second interview questions you usually ask your candidates? Do you have other inquiry lines you prefer? Please share your thoughts with our community!

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