There are a number of common second interview questions you’ll need to be ready for if you want to progress through the hiring process. Some are simple, some are tricky, but they’re all important.
This list of questions you’ll likely be asked during a second interview will help you prepare effective answers that make a great impression.
1. What values do you look for in a company?
The second interview typically goes deeper into what you have to offer the company and whether you fit into its larger mission. Every organization has values and goals that drive its operations and growth. This question is about ensuring your personal values align with the company.
The best way to answer this common second interview question is to do your research. Look into the organization’s mission statement and get a good understanding of what it stands for and strives to do. Then, mold your answer to create a connection.
Connect your values, motivations, and experiences to the company and let the interviewer know you’re ready to contribute.
2. How do you handle stress?
Stress is a normal part of most jobs. It doesn’t matter whether you’re working in retail or corporate banking. You’re bound to experience stress at some point. Interviewers want to know how you handle it.
The last thing anyone wants to do is work with someone who spirals out of control, lashes out at coworkers, and makes the office a living nightmare. It’s your responsibility to learn how to manage your stress effectively.
Think about past stressful work situations or environments. How did you cope with those moments? Talk about the techniques you used, and make sure to mention you have the ability to manage your stress levels in a variety of situations.
3. Can you share what you would focus on initially if you got the job?
This is a second interview question that often catches people by surprise. You don’t even have the job yet. Why are they asking what you’ll do?
This question aims to see how much impact you’ll have right off the bat and how much thought you’ve put into the role. Hiring a new person is a significant investment, and some positions have a long ramp-up time. But hiring managers want you to make big moves and contribute to the organization’s bottom line as much as possible.
Do in-depth company research to understand its daily operations. Learn about its weaknesses and figure out what you can do to make positive changes as soon as you start working.
Everyone has intrinsic motivations for doing well at their job. This is your chance to talk about them.
However, interviewers don’t want to know that your only driving force is money. A “work for the weekend” attitude isn’t ideal. That might be your true motivator, but don’t ever say that during the interview!
Instead, highlight that you have natural motivations. The best answer is to reflect on what you want from this job and find internal motivations that keep you going. That could be boosting your career, gaining more experience, or genuine love for the work.
Whatever the case, show that you have the motivation to do an excellent job.
5. Our team is working on X. How would you be able to help us with it?
It’s one thing to say you have relevant skills, but it’s a new ballgame when you have to apply those skills in a real-world environment. This second round interview question gives the interviewer more insight into how you use your skills and develop unique solutions contributing to the bottom line.
Once again, research is paramount. Understand what the company does and its primary goals. Think about the challenges it faces and provide reasonable solutions.
Phrase your answers strategically and provide actionable recommendations. Vague answers aren’t going to cut it. Be as specific as you can with the knowledge you have, and have confidence in your suggestions.
6. What are your salary expectations for this position?
Salary expectations will come up many times throughout the hiring process.
This question is to see if your expectations align with the budget for the position. Do your research about salaries in your area. Pay attention to similar jobs at competitors, and don’t forget to consider benefits.
The best thing to do is provide a salary range. Put your desired salary somewhere in the middle and create a broad range to signal that you’re open to negotiation when the time comes.
7. Tell me a little bit about yourself.
An open-ended question like this can go many ways. However, it would be best if you focused on your qualifications, the skills you bring to the table, and why you’re the best person for the job.
Hiring managers ask this second interview question for a few different reasons. First, the open-ended nature can test your communication skills and professionalism. Secondly, it allows you to highlight relevant details that might not have made it onto your resume.
A resume can only paint half of a picture of your potential. This question lets you fill in the blanks for a complete look at what you have to offer.
8. How do you approach disagreements or conflicts with coworkers?
Problem-solving skills are paramount in any work environment. If the job requires you to work on collaborative projects or interact with colleagues frequently, it’s even more important. This question provides insight into how you deal with these situations.
Avoid telling a simple story about a conflict that wasn’t really a conflict. Don’t be afraid to talk about significant issues you had in the past. Those are the stories interviewers want to hear.
Provide all the context you need before diving into the details and sharing the solution you found. Focus most of your answer on what you did to resolve the situation, and highlight your ability to turn small workplace dramas into something productive.
9. What are your strengths that will help you in this role?
How you respond to this second question tells the interviewer what you can bring to this position. It’s about telling them what you believe are your most vital assets and how you plan to apply them at this new organization.
Think back on winning moments in your career. Focus on your proudest moments and pull relevant examples that demonstrate what you can do.
10. What is your biggest weakness?
No one likes to talk about what they need to work on. However, this second round interview question is more layered than most realize.
It’s not about telling the interviewer about shortcomings that could get in the way, it’s about showing them you’re actively trying to correct those issues. Your response can also reassure the interviewer that you have self-awareness and the confidence to address problems effectively.
When you choose a weakness, make sure to talk about what you’re doing to get better. That’s the magic part of your response and what you should lean into when talking about your shortcomings.
11. Tell me some of your career goals.
Here’s another common second interview question that revolves around your values and goals. But this one prioritizes the future and how you fit into the company moving forward. You might be a fantastic candidate, but hiring managers might be hesitant to bring you in if they think you’ll leave within a couple of years.
Your goal is to provide reassurance that’s not the case. Talk about your career aspirations and find a way to include the company as part of those plans. Consider sharing how you want to climb the ranks and grow with the organization.
Always make it sound like you’re there to stay for the long haul.
12. What are you looking for in a new job?
The “what are you looking for” interview question throws the expectations back on you. Until this point, you’ve likely done everything to convince the interviewer that you are what the organization is looking for from an applicant. But now, it’s on you.
The interviewer wants to know if the company fits your needs and goals. It’s not about ensuring that you’re happy. Instead, it’s more to gauge your genuine interests and motivations. Ultimately, it ties back to longevity.
If this job fits your expectations, you’re more likely to stick around for a while. Take what you know about the company and mold your answer strategically. Connect the dots and let it be known that you’re genuinely interested in landing this job opportunity.
13. What makes you the perfect fit for this job?
This second interview question is a great chance to convince the hiring manager to extend a job offer. There are still many considerations to make, but this question is an opportunity to plead your case. Of course, you have to do so strategically.
The best types of responses are those that connect qualifications to the job. Think about your skill set and previous work experiences. How has everything in your career prepared you to take on this job?
Read the job posting, do your research about the company, and figure out exactly why you deserve the job. Use anything new you’ve learned in the hiring process and create the connection while cementing your interest.
14. Can you share a time when you had to make a difficult decision at work? What was your thought process?
Decision-making is another critical skill you must have. Your job or position on the corporate ladder is irrelevant. Everyone faces difficult decisions at some point. Do you crumble under stress or take charge with confidence?
The hiring manager wants to learn more about your decision-making process. They’re eager to see how you think and develop solutions.
Choose a relevant example that could apply to this position. Then, provide details about what you did, how you came to that decision, and what difference it made. Of course, talking about challenges that had a happy ending is always best.
But even if you talk about a decision that didn’t work out, you could focus on what you learned and how that experience shaped your processes moving forward.
15. What kind of work environment do you prefer?
The reason for this second interview question is simple. Interviewers want to know if you’ll fit in with the company culture. Every organization is unique, and you need to figure out how things get done at this company.
Some companies are more relaxed, offering a more social environment to remain productive and encourage collaboration. Others are strict and traditional. The best way to answer is to learn about this company’s work culture and how you thrive in it.
Stick close to the real-world working environment. Avoid saying anything that makes you sound inflexible or incapable of working in the company’s distinct culture.
If you’ve asked a question about this during the first interview or from people who work there, you may already have a sense of the company’s work environment. If the style matches with the work environment you want, then aligning your preferred work environment with theirs is important for the hiring manager to know.
16. Do you like to work in a group or by yourself?
This question is similar to the previous one, and it also applies to most companies. Your position could require heavy collaboration, hours of solo work, or something in-between.
Not everyone thrives in group settings. Meanwhile, some people get easily distracted when working alone. How you prefer to work matters!
Again, do your research! Understand how this company operates and develop an answer that leans into their reality. You don’t have to lie, but you should signal flexibility.
Work situations change constantly, and the key is to reassure interviewers that you can remain productive regardless of whether you’re working with others or by yourself.
17. What was a typical day like for you at your previous job?
The goal of this common second round interview question is to show adaptability.
The interviewer is looking to learn more about your regular routine. They want to see how your old work routine compares to your experience in this new job. Significant adjustments can be jarring, and there’s always the risk that new hires figure out that the job isn’t right for them.
Be honest about your previous work situation. Whether there are countless similarities or very few, there’s no wrong way to respond. However, it would be best if you signaled that you’re adaptable and ready to conquer no matter what routine you have to get through.
Forming a response to this question seems easy, but it’s more multifaceted than it appears on the surface. The interviewer genuinely wants to know what you’re proud of in your career. It’s another way to understand your priorities, goals, and values.
But this question also gives you a chance to put your communication skills on display. Ideally, you’ll respond in a clear, empathetic way to make the interviewer understand why the achievement was so significant.
In your career, you’ll spend a lot of time communicating with others who aren’t experienced in your field. This question provides some peace of mind that you can do that successfully. So, ditch the industry jargon and connect with the interviewer as you tell your story.
19. Is there anything you’d like to address from your last interview?
This second interview question can be a little jarring and somewhat scary. Don’t worry: It’s not the interviewer trying to get you to confess to something or correct a mistake. Instead, it’s a way to reconnect, touch base about things you felt weren’t covered, and move forward with a little more clarity about the job and your qualifications.
It’s not uncommon for people to leave interviews wishing that you brought up something relevant. Maybe you didn’t get the chance, or it slipped your mind. Whatever the case, now is your opportunity to bring it up!
Try to think of something. Anything is better than simply saying “no.” You can talk about new developments in your job search, ask about something you just learned about the company, etc.
20. What management style do you thrive under?
Developing a solid working relationship with your managers and supervisors is crucial. Hiring managers need to know that you can accept feedback and criticism. Of course, there are many management styles out there, and the point of this question is to ensure that you’ll have no problem working with current superiors.
Reflect on interactions with your old managers. Focus on the ones that impacted your career, and think about how they communicated with you. What about that supervisor made a difference?
You can talk about how you prefer to get criticism. There’s no universally incorrect answer, but you should try to give the impression that you’re relatively flexible.
Finally, you’ll probably end the interview with a question asking for questions! It serves the same purpose as the same request during your first interview. However, you have more time and flexibility to ask in-depth questions.
You’re deep into the hiring process at this point. You’ve probably learned new things and need clarity about specific details.
Asking questions is good, and you should have a list of questions to ask at the end of your second interview. It shows that you’re genuinely interested and are motivated to learn more.
Questions to Ask in a Second Interview
You may come up with questions to ask on the spot during your second interview. But even then, it pays to have a few prepared as well.
Here are some excellent examples.
- What’s the greatest challenge I’ll face during my first year in this position if I get the job?
- What do you like about working for this company?
- How do you measure performance and success for this role?
- What do you expect this person to accomplish in their first 30/60/90 days?
- Can you shed light on the performance review process?
- What does career growth look like for this position?
- What teams would I be a part of if I get this job?
- How do teams typically communicate at this company?
- How will my skills and experience benefit the team?
- What’s a normal day like for this position?
- What do you like about this organization’s culture?
- What are the biggest challenges of this role, and how do they fit in with the bigger picture?
- Can you describe who your ideal employee would be?
- Is risk-taking encouraged in this role?
- What is the management style of the person I’ll report to?
- Are there any skill gaps in my resume, and do you have any recommendations on how to fill them?
- Can you tell me more about the person who previously held this position? What made their work successful?
- Are there any hesitations about my qualifications that I can clear up?
- What are the next steps in the hiring process? And what is your timeframe?
Since you’re now familiar with the most common second interview questions, it’s time to do some prep work. Run through this list and use our recommendations to come up with strong answers for each.
You’ve already made it past the first round, so keep that momentum going!
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.