How to Get Invited for a Second Interview

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It's always good news when you get an email or a call to invite you to a job interview. It's even better news when you get contacted to come back for a second interview.

For most employers, initial interviews are designed to screen out candidates. Job offers are generally made after a successful second, or follow-up, interview. Of course, your ability to land second interviews is determined by how effectively you perform in your first interview.

What can you do to boost your chances of getting a call back? There are specific strategies you can use before, during or after your interview to help improve your chances of moving on in the screening process.

Scoring that second interview takes more than just going through the motions of showing up for your interview. You have to really show up, too: meaning you'll have to engage and think critically about how you can stand out from your competitors. 

How to Get Invited for a Second Interview

Consider the following tips to plot your interviewing strategy, and you'll be more likely to get the call for the all important second interview.

Before the Interview 

1. Know the job. Before your first interview, look at the job description and carefully dissect all of the job's requirements. Share evidence of how your skills and experience will help you to excel in the job you're applying for. Most importantly, back up assertions about your skills and qualities with concrete examples of how you have applied those strengths to achieve results in the past, and how you can envision doing the same in the future.

2. Brush up your interview skills. Take some time to work on your interview skills. The more effectively you interview, the better your chances are for getting selected for a second interview.

During the First Interview

3. Make the case for getting hired. During your first interview, make a clear case about how the job appeals to you and fits in with your long-term career plan.  Many candidates are screened out after initial interviews because they didn't seem highly motivated to pursue the job Don't be over the top, but do express your passion for company and your professional and personal interests in the company. 

4. Exude warmth and engage all the interviewers.  If your interviewers like you as a person, they'll be more likely to support your case and vote for you to move on in the process. Here's how to show your personality at a job interview.

5. Discover what the interviewer wants. Find out as much as possible during the first interview about what each interviewer views as the most important qualifications for the ideal candidate, and tailor your responses to highlight how your own qualifications match up. This will also give you a framework for preparing for the second interview, should you get the call.  

6. Ask what the organization needs. Inquire about a pressing problem or challenge that might come up during the job. If relevant, present a work sample from your past, or draft a document that showcases relevant knowledge and skills.  For example, suppose that the preferred candidate would need to analyze companies and present a rationale for buy, sell or hold on their stock. Prepare a brief on a stock of interest and include it as an attachment to your follow-up letter. 

7. Ask for a second interview. Close your first interview with a strong statement expressing your belief that the job is an excellent fit and how you are interested in exploring the opportunity further in a second interview. Though you shouldn't make the assumption that you'll for sure be invited back for a second interview, if you do get a positive vibe, you can mention that you're readily available to talk more about the position or answer any other questions that your interviewers might think of after the initial interview.

8. Offer to share examples of your work. As you finish up your interview, suggest that you would welcome the opportunity for interviewers to review some of your work samples. Offer a link to a portfolio page such as a personal website or your LinkedIn profile. 

After the First Interview

9. Say thank you for the interview. Draft a follow-up communication as soon as possible after your first interview. If you delay your email or letter, it might arrive after decisions about the second round have already been made.

10. Follow up with everyone you met with. If you've met with multiple interviewers, reach out to each one after the interview, rather than sending a group email. First and foremost, thank them for the opportunity and reiterate your interest in the position. Think about how the role you're applying to relates their position, and if you have any insights into how you might be able to excel in your duties to them, your follow up email is a good opportunity to share your thoughts. 

11. Notify your references. Prior to your interview, alert your references that your interviewers might be reaching out. After the interview, remind them again, and inform them of any key hiring concerns that became evident during your meeting. If you feel there's any weak spots in your skill set or experience that came up during the interview, ask them if they would be willing to affirm their confidence in your ability to succeed. Share the names of the interviewers since it is possible that your references might know them or volunteer to reach out to them informally to endorse your candidacy.


12. Use your connections. Reach out to any contacts who work at the company and let them know about your candidacy.  Uncover second level contacts at the organization on LinkedIn and college alumni connections.  Find a way to meet with them if possible during your interviewing visit.  These insiders might decide to endorse your candidacy if they have direct exposure to you and are impressed.