Why Should HR Schedule a Second Interview?

7 Good Reasons HR Should Hold Second—and Even Third—Interviews

Employees participate in a second job interview to get to know the candidate.
••• Michael DeLeon / Getty Images

A second interview with a job candidate can tell you much that you need to know to assess your candidate’s qualifications and cultural fit.

First interviews allow you or your team members to meet candidates and assess basic skills, but employment can last for years, and decisions need to be made carefully. Employers schedule follow-up interviews to increase their knowledge about candidates and to further the feeling that other employees can work with the individual successfully.

The candidates you select for a second interview are your best prospects. They are a small percentage of the people who applied. There are at least seven good reasons to get to know these candidates better before offering them jobs.

1. Confirm first impressions

If you are the hiring manager, you must have had initial positive impressions from the first interview about the candidate’s skills and potential cultural fit. It's important to confirm your first impressions to feel comfortable making a job offer. Maybe there are concerns that will arise when getting a second and closer look.

2. Introduce others to the process

You will want to add to the group of employees who initially interviewed the candidate. While in a first interview, the candidate may have met HR staff, the hiring manager, and a couple of others. At a second interview, you will want to add more coworkers. Your interviewers should also include the hiring manager and HR staff again plus the executive responsible for the department.

You are allowing many employees to have input into vetting the qualifications and interaction of the potential employee. This is good because the more employees who own and share responsibility for the hire the better. They will be invested in the new employee’s success.

3. See how they do all day

A second interview tends to last a half to a full day. Consequently, your team can assess whether the individual remains the person they thought they met at the first interview. People are competent at projecting an image of who they are for a couple of hours, but most individuals cannot fake an image for a whole day. In this time frame, your team also will take the applicant out for a meal, and this gives you another level of insight into the candidate’s manners, social competence, and interpersonal interaction skills.

4. Do they rise to the challenge?

You have different expectations of your candidates in a second interview, and you want to see if your candidate rises to fulfill them. By the second interview, the candidate has had the opportunity to research you, your employees, the company, and more. He or she has talked for several hours about the job and its challenges with current employees. Assuming you gave him an agenda for the day, he also has researched the employees with whom he will interview.

During a second interview, he should be able to tell you his ideas for the position and what he can contribute if selected for the job. He ought to be able to draw a line between his skills and experience and the needs of the position.

It is why the questions that you ask during a second interview are different from the first interview questions. They are more specific and notable by the enriching detail they encourage. You give the candidate the opportunity to shine a light on the skills and knowledge he has to offer your department.

5. Answer questions

Be prepared to answer questions from the candidate. It is her opportunity to find out about your company and whether she will fit in. The second interview often brings detailed questions as the candidate works with you to see if this marriage will work.

Candidates ask questions that range from why the former employee left to what will be your expectations of them in the job. They ask about opportunities for professional development and further career growth. You need to prepare detailed answers so that both parties are doing their part in determining if the match is a good fit.

If the candidate does not come prepared with questions, that should be a red flag.

6. Put them to work

If you ask your candidates to complete a job-related test or assignment prior to the interview, this is when you hear and see the results of the candidate’s efforts. Increasing in popularity, a job-related test or assignment provides insight into how the candidate approaches work.

You can assess creativity, follow-through, thoroughness, experience and a variety of other personal and professional characteristics. In some settings, the second interview can involve the actual test. For example, a tech employee is asked to solve a problem on a whiteboard, or a customer support candidate is asked to respond to several customer emails.

7. Market yourself

Increasingly, in the competition for employees with scarce skills, the second interview is an opportunity to market your organization to the candidate. Use the second interview to demonstrate what life is like working for your company. Let your current employees share stories about the company. Stories illuminate your culture and provide a sense of the work environment and its challenges and expectations.