Second Interview Checklist

Good news! You’ve been offered a second interview for a job you’d like to do, at a company you would like to join. But don’t go choosing your new company car just yet, because in reality, the company still have a job, and you don’t! Not their one at least.

Although you’ve obviously done well to get through the early selection procedures and first interview, there is much work left to be done.

You can assume that you are being considered very strongly; the company wouldn’t waste their own time if they didn’t consider you are basically apt for the job. But they may well have several people on the short-list, and will be trying to work out which person is going to contribute most to their company and its bottom line profits, but also, importantly, which person will best fit into the team on a personal level.

Try to find out what sort of competition you’re up against. Your consultant may be able to tell you. Alternatively, your first interviewer may be able to tell you, or even his/her secretary who may be organising the second interview schedules.

Don’t worry about how talented your competition is; you can only do your best, and it is not necessarily the most talented who will win the offer; attitude can be paramount. The company will have to make a decision as to who to appoint, and that decision may be a good one, or not so good. If you discover that you have no competition, that you are the only one being seen at this level (companies rarely admit that this is the case), you must still prepare for the second interview, and go into it as if it is highly competitive.

One thing is for sure, the company won’t appoint anyone, if they feel they haven’t found the right person.


  • Research the company, the industry, and the competitors. Telephone the company, and its competitors for brochures, price-lists, reports etc. to make a comparative survey.
  • Make a list of likely customers in the area, including any that you know. Try to make contact with one or two of the customers of the company to find out how their products/services are viewed in the market.
  • Write out a business plan as to how you would approach the job if offered. Show that you would concentrate your efforts on the 20% of the market that yields 80% of the business.
  • A classic plan might look like this: (adjust the timescales according to circumstance)


Stage 1 Analyse the existing clientele of the company, and list in ‘divisions’. The 20% of key clients who provide 80% of the revenue in the first division, and the rest in a second division. Identify the main competitors, and if possible, identify their division one and two customers. Identify and list all potential clients in the area of your concern

Stage 2 Make contact with your own first division clients, and befriend them. Begin to make exploratory contact with the competitors’ first division clients – initiating a process, which may take years to complete – their conversion.

Stage 3 Make contact with your second division clients. Gather information on your competitors’ second division clients. In both cases, identify the clients who have the greatest potential to become elevated to first division status.

Stage 4 Identify third party agents who may be able to help you develop your business: opinion leaders, public authorities, academics, media personnel and so forth. Make contact with them and cultivate their goodwill and assistance. Identify public events, which will help you understand your new industry – exhibitions, international conferences etc. Subscribe to industry journals etc.

Stage 5 Formulate a clear annual plan, showing anticipated revenues, costs and profits, broken down into quarterly and monthly targets. You may have had some indication at the first interview about what will be expected of you, to assist you in this part of the process.

It doesn’t matter if your plan is completely different from that which the company has in mind for you. The important things are, that you will have demonstrated a mental commitment to the job (that you have ‘thought your way into’ the position), that you are capable of acting in a sound businesslike fashion, that you could, if necessary, be left to get on with the job more or less unaided (unmanaged), and ultimately that you have been bothered to go to considerable lengths to impress the recruiters. These efforts will not go unnoticed!

Prepare the plan carefully, have it word-processed neatly and correctly spelt (NB! Do not trust computer spell-checkers), and bound simply in card covers. Prepare as many copies as there are likely to be people interviewing you, plus one or two spares, plus one for yourself.


  • Make sure you know the names of all the people you may meet at the company, and try to establish who is the decision-maker, and who are decision influencers.
  • Pay particular attention to your dress and appearance, taking into account the style and culture of the company, as you perceived it at the first interview.
  • Make sure you know how to get to the interview and aim to arrive at least 15 minutes early. If you have to travel a long way for an early interview, you should travel the night before, and stay overnight in a B&B so as to arrive at the interview fresh and alert.

The Second Interview

  • Report immediately to reception so that the company is aware you have arrived early.
  • Ask questions at the interview, even if you know the answers already – it shows interest. Focus on the company’s plans for the future and your career prospects: ‘Where will I be in five years ?’
  • One of the commonest questions asked at second interview is ‘How do you think you will go about this job?’ This is a perfect opportunity for you to show your business plan. If the question is not asked, you should find an opportunity to bring the conversation to a point where you can show your plan, preferably earlier in the proceedings, rather than later.
  • As at the first interview, you should try to control the interview, by saying something like ‘Thank you for inviting me back. I’m very excited about the prospect of working for you, and I’ve given the matter considerable thought. I’ve produced a business plan to show and discuss with you (reaching into briefcase); is this an appropriate moment to talk about this?’ As before, most interviewers will be only too delighted at having someone take control of the meeting. Don’t forget, that in many respects, this is as difficult, and important a meeting for them as it is for you.
  • Answer any other questions your interviewers ask, honestly and succinctly. Remember, there may be people present who are not aware that you have been asked the same questions before. Bear in mind that sometimes you will be asked blunt questions to ‘test your metal’: ‘What makes you think you can do the job? You’ve never done anything like it before!’ Be calm and polite; don’t rise to the bait! Say you understand why they might think like that, but in actual fact….(explain why you can do it)…and you feel completely confident you can rise to this undoubted challenge. Reassure them that if you are deficient in any respect (technical knowledge, commercial experience etc) you will be only too happy to undergo evening study/training at your own expense, to make up the shortfall.
  • Leave all discussions of rewards until you are actually offered the job, unless the company broach the subject. Initially it is best to say ‘It’s the career and opportunity here that really interest me. Of course I’m interested in being paid well, and I’m sure that if I’m the right person for the job, you’ll make me a fair offer’. If they press you to name a number (salary), you could ask if they are in fact offering you a job. If ‘Yes’, then use whatever information you have to pick a suitable figure. You may already know what the salary parameters are, from your consultant, or from advertising, or from your first interview. Alternatively, you could take your last salary and add 15%. Or you may have calculated a ‘bottom line’ below which the job would just not be worth doing. Don’t price yourself out of the job: companies prefer to hire at a lower rate (you are untried and untested after all) but will usually increase pay in the first year or two, as you prove yourself, to pay you what you are worth. On the other hand, you don’t want to price yourself at too low a level, just to get the job, if you would not be able to get by on such a wage. If ‘No’ or ‘Maybe’, suggest that perhaps it would be better to wait until they are sure they would like to make an offer to you, before settling the terms of employment.

Closing The Interview

  • If you feel positive about the job, ask for it! ‘Well, I’d certainly like this job Mr….., and I’m sure I could contribute a great deal to your company. If you take me on, I can assure you that you won’t regret it! When can I start with you ? / When will I know ?’ The more confidently you can deliver your closing line, the better it will be received. Having delivered it, just smile and look the decision-maker in the eye, and remain quiet, until he answers you.
  • Be prepared to accept the job if it’s offered. You can always think about it afterwards, while you wait for the offer letter to arrive.
  • Telephone your consultant immediately after the interview, from the nearest available telephone. This is crucial; employers frequently call the consultant shortly after the interview asking ‘Have you heard from him?  How does he feel?’ It’s often as important for them to ‘get a result’ as it is for you! That is why the consultant needs to know straight away how you feel; ‘He’s already called me, and he’s really keen’ sounds a lot better than ‘I don’t know, I haven’t heard from him’.