What to Expect in Your Second Interview, with Example Questions and Answers

Dana Guterman
Updated: July 5, 2023

After reading this article, you’ll:

  • Know what to expect in your second interview.
  • Be familiar with the types of questions asked in a second interview.
  • Be ready to ask your own questions to prepare you for an offer.

Congratulations—you aced the interview! And now, it’s time for … another interview. Today, most employers put aspiring interns and employees through multiple rounds of interviews before offering them a role. By preparing in advance, you can nail the second interview and seal the deal.

Generally, second interviews are more specific than first interviews. At this point, the employer is seriously considering you for the role, so they want to dive into the details. During your second interview, you’ll meet with new people (which may include a panel interview), as everyone seeks to get to know you better.

 

Common second interview questions and answers

If the first interview was about confirming your basic qualifications, the second one is about ensuring those qualifications match this specific role and culture. Here are some frequently asked second interview questions, along with sample answers.

1. Do you have anything from the first interview that you want to discuss?

Interviewers love to open a second interview with this one, and your answer should never be, “Nope!” This is your chance to prove that you’ve done your homework and learned from your first interview. A good answer is specific, like this:

During my first interview with Laurie, she mentioned that you’re in the process of revamping your intern onboarding process. Can you tell me more about that? What will this mean for training and development opportunities?

2. Do you prefer to work independently or on a team?

At this point, employers will be focused on cultural fit, so you’re likely to get a question or two about your preferred work style.

As a software developer, I do love putting my head down and working independently. But I’ve found that many of the best ideas come from brainstorming with other people, so I really value being part of a team, too. To that end, I joined Stack Overflow last year to collaborate with other developers and learn about innovative ideas and solutions. It’s been hugely inspirational, and I find that my independent work time is all the more productive because of it.

3. What are your long-term goals?

They’ve established that you’re a good fit in terms of experience and skill set. Now, they want to ensure you’ll stick around and grow with the company.

Ten years from now, I’d love to be the marketing director for an agency. As an aspiring marketing professional, I pride myself on helping businesses meet their financial and strategic goals, but I thrive when working with different creative professionals. To focus on both the creativity and impact of my work, I’m double majoring in visual art and marketing. Going forward, I’m excited to build my portfolio and skill set as your intern, driving visibility for so many exciting local companies. Then, I hope to work my way up, complementing my marketing work with knowledge of management, content strategy, and graphic design.

4. Why should we hire you?

It’s the second interview, and the employer has narrowed the playing field. Next, it’s time for a decision—and this question puts everything out there. This is your chance to differentiate yourself from the other candidates.

You need a nonprofit intern who’s adaptable and organized, with strong writing skills and the ability to hit the ground running. As treasurer of XYZ University’s Student Government Association, I handle 100% of our budgetary and fundraising efforts. I understand how challenging it can be—and I’m used to last-minute deadlines and shifting priorities. Additionally, I’ve been writing since before I can remember. Last year, I won the Whitman Writer’s Award, given to two juniors in the English department. You also mentioned that the ideal intern can help track grant deadlines, and I’ll do one better. Having run my own poetry zine for the past two years, I’ve submitted over a dozen grant requests—and gotten 10 of them. I’ll bring all of this, and a drive to grow and learn, to your internship.


Types of Second Interviews

One-on-One Interviews

This is a common format for second interviews, where you meet with a key decision-maker—possibly someone higher up in the organization. This could be a department manager, a senior executive, or the person you’d be reporting to directly.

Tips:

  • Show respect for their time. These individuals often have busy schedules, so be succinct and stay on topic.
  • Demonstrate your understanding of the organization and the role. You can show that you’ve done your research by discussing relevant industry trends or how you would address specific job-related scenarios.
  • Be prepared to discuss your long-term goals, as senior executives are often interested in how you fit into the organization’s future.

 

Panel Interviews

Here, you’ll be interviewed by a group of people at once. This might include potential colleagues, managers, and HR representatives.

Tips:

  • Engage with everyone on the panel. Make eye contact with all members, not just the person who asked the question.
  • Remember who said what. It can be beneficial to refer back to earlier points, showing that you’re listening actively.
  • Take your time to answer. With multiple people, you may receive a variety of questions coming at you rapidly. It’s okay to pause and think about your answers.

 

Group Interviews

In this setting, you’re interviewed alongside other candidates. It’s often used when there are multiple positions to fill or when companies want to see how you interact with others.

Tips:

  • Stand out by being the first to answer a question or lead a discussion, but also show that you can listen and collaborate with others.
  • Make sure your responses add value to the discussion, rather than repeating what others have already said.
  • Stay professional. While this is a competitive setting, avoid undermining other candidates.

 

Skill-Based or Task-Oriented Interviews

These interviews involve problem-solving exercises or tasks relevant to the job. This could be a coding challenge for a software developer, a writing test for a content writer, or a case study for a business analyst role.

Tips:

  • Showcase your thought process as you tackle the task. Interviewers often want to see how you approach problem-solving, not just the final answer.
  • Don’t rush. Take the time to understand the task before diving in.
  • If allowed, ask clarifying questions. This shows you are thorough and want to ensure you’re on the right path.

 

Lunch or Dinner Interviews

Sometimes, the second interview may be conducted over a meal. The goal is to assess your social skills, etiquette, and how you handle yourself in less formal settings.

Tips:

  • Remember it’s still an interview. Maintain professionalism and decorum at all times.
  • Mind your table manners. This is particularly important for roles that involve client interaction or networking events.
  • Keep the conversation balanced. While it’s a more informal setting, remember to talk about your skills and experiences relevant to the job. However, also be prepared to engage in some small talk.

 

Each type of interview comes with its own unique challenges and opportunities. Regardless of the format, remember to be yourself, stay confident, and express your genuine interest in the role and the company.


Second interview tips

A few things to keep in mind for your second interview:

  • Consistency is key. Your interviewers will compare notes post-interview. Review your resume and consider your responses from the first interview. Then, ensure your answers for the second interview line up.
  • Don’t worry about repeating yourself. Often, interviewers will repeat questions they already asked during a second interview. Simply repeat what you said the first time around, with the same amount of detail and enthusiasm.
  • Recall the first interview. Use the first interview to inform your responses and questions for the second interview.
  • Say thank you. Just like before, make sure you write down the names and titles of anyone who interviewed you. Afterwards, send a thank-you note.

Common Mistakes in Second Interviews

Inconsistencies in Answers

In a second interview, you’re likely to meet new interviewers who may ask questions similar to those you answered in the first interview. If your answers vary too much, it could raise concerns about your honesty or memory.

Solution: Review your notes from the first interview to ensure you maintain consistency in your responses. Remember the key points you made initially and stick to them, while also adding any necessary details or context.

Insufficient Preparation

Some candidates might think they can wing the second interview because they performed well in the first round. However, the second interview often goes deeper into the specifics of the role and your fit within the team and company culture.

Solution: Prepare as thoroughly as you did for the first interview, if not more so. Do your research about the company and the interviewers, if their names are shared with you beforehand. Consider potential new questions that might come up, especially role-specific and situational ones.

Not Addressing Weaknesses from First Interview

If there were areas in the first interview where you felt you didn’t shine, ignoring these in the second interview might reinforce the interviewers’ doubts.

Solution: Reflect on any weaknesses or gaps identified in your first interview and address these proactively in your second interview. If there were technical skills you lacked, for example, you might explain the steps you’re taking to improve in those areas.

Appearing Overconfident or Arrogant

Making it to the second round is indeed a cause for confidence, but excessive confidence can come across as arrogance, which is often off-putting to employers.

Solution: Keep your confidence balanced and respectful. Remember, the second interview is still part of the evaluation process. Show gratitude for the opportunity to proceed to this stage and maintain a positive, humble attitude.

Avoiding these common pitfalls can significantly improve your chances of success in a second interview. Remember, preparation and self-awareness are key to making a strong impression.


Questions to ask the interviewer

Your first interview was about making a great first impression and getting the lay of the land. The second interview is about landing the internship and getting the information you need to make an educated decision. For that reason, you want to prepare plenty of questions in advance to ask the interviewer when they say, “So, do you have any questions for me?”

Keep in mind: this isn’t the time to ask about salary, vacation, or school credit. Rather, it’s an opportunity to get a deeper sense for the business and your role in it. If you had any concerns during the first interview, now’s your chance. Need more inspiration? You can also review our full guide to questions to ask in an internship interview.

To get you started, here are seven questions to ask your interviewer after the second interview.

  • What would you like to see me accomplish in the first 30 days? By the end of the summer?
  • What’s your favorite part about working here?
  • What will the onboarding and training process look like?
  • For successful interns, what does the progression path from intern to full-time employee look like?
  • Where do you see the company a year from now? Five years from now?
  • Is there anything I haven’t addressed?
  • What are the next steps after this interview?

Nailing your second interview is about thorough preparation, consistency, and presenting your best self. From understanding different types of second interviews and potential challenges to asking thoughtful questions and practicing self-care, there are several strategies to help you succeed. As you proceed, remember that each interview is not only a chance for the employer to assess your suitability, but also an opportunity for you to evaluate the role and the company. Approach this process with openness, curiosity, and the desire to showcase your best abilities. With the right preparation and mindset, you can excel in your second interview and move one step closer to securing the position you want.