After a first round of interviews, you will hopefully find yourself with a shortlist of candidates who meet your criteria for the position. But before settling on a final choice, it’s a good idea to hold a second round of interviews with those candidates – we suggest a maximum of three – whom you find to be particularly interesting.
The second interview is usually the shortest, and focuses on gathering information that was not discussed during the first interview.
But the second interview can also be useful in other ways. Here are four reasons why a second interview isn’t just a good idea – it’s a necessity.
1. Eliminate errors in perception
To develop a balanced impression of a candidate, it’s best to have more than one interviewer present when meeting the applicant. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible.
When meeting a candidate for a second interview, keep in mind that you now have a second chance to objectively evaluate the person and eliminate any errors in perception that you may have had during the first interview.
2. Prepare the candidate for the position
The second interview is personalized to evaluate a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. It allows you to get to know them better through technical challenges, questions and by exposing them to new situations.
This is the time to validate your original hypotheses and to explore the unique skills that the candidate brings to the table. Once you’ve determined their strengths and weaknesses, you can then decide what measures need to be implemented to ensure that the person will be able to “hit the ground running” and begin working autonomously as quickly as possible. The idea is to start laying the groundwork now to facilitate your new hire’s integration to the position (i.e. crafting a training plan, coordinating with the appropriate manager, etc.).
3. Seduce the candidate
If the candidate you’re interviewing would be a particular “catch” for your company, the second interview can be used as an opportunity to sell the applicant on the position by introducing them to some of their future colleagues. Ideally, this scenario would see the candidate meet a group of two to four co-workers with whom they would be working frequently.
For example, a second interview for the position of Controller might be enhanced by having the candidate meet with the company procurement officer, sales manager and financial analyst. This also provides an opportunity for these employees to offer their perspective on the suitability of the candidate for the position.
4. Align organizational objectives
The second interview is also an excellent opportunity for the candidate’s immediate supervisor – and in turn, their supervisor – to participate directly in the hiring process. These two evaluators bring weight to the interview and demonstrate the hierarchy of the organization in real-world terms.
Sometimes, a difference of opinion between two managers can arise over the suitability of a candidate for a position. By participating in the final selection process, managers can share their visions for the future and clarify, if necessary, the type of reports they will need to receive from the new hire to meet their organizational needs.
It can occur that during the course of a second interview, the interviewer finds themselves less enthusiastic about a candidate. In this case, it’s a good practice to hold a third interview to ensure diligence and a clear conscience, or alternatively, to consider other candidates.
To make the wise choice when filling a position, a second interview is always recommended –even if you feel that you don’t have the time!
Isabelle Bédard, MBA, CRHA, Adm.A et C.M.C., is President and Director General of CIB Développement organisationnel. Since 1988, CIB has helped managers and directors develop effective team management strategies by providing recruitment services and human resources management training.