How to ace your second interview

Bravo! You’ve demonstrated that you’re a qualified candidate and have been invited to a second interview. The odds of being hired have increased but it’s by no means a slam dunk. Questions will be tougher and you’ll likely be expected to meet — and impress — a longer list of people.

“Feel good because they like you but be on your toes because they’re not 100% convinced,” says Maureen McCann, founder of ProMotion Career Solutions in Ottawa and a senior career consultant with Graham Management Group of Toronto.

“It’s your job to convince the employer you’re the right person for the job. The only way to do that is to identify what they’re looking for and demonstrate that you’ve got what it takes.”

Consider the following list of dos and don’ts:

Do find out in advance what the agenda will be and whom you can expect to interview with. If possible, get their names and titles, and find as much as you can about them using tools like Google and LinkedIn.

Find out how much time you need to dedicate to the interview and brush up on appropriate etiquette. If you’re going out for lunch or dinner, for example, be aware of the establishment’s dress code. Likewise if invited for a round of golf.

Don’t give in to the temptation to have an alcoholic drink. The only exception: if you’re being interviewed for an alcohol-related company, such as a winery. “If you do have a drink, limit yourself to just one,” McCann says.

Don’t neglect to review your performance in the first interview. “What went well and how can you improve? Get a coach for mock interviews. Preparing your answers to questions in advance will help you stand out,” McCann says.

“Talk to your references and let them know how they can help if they get a call before your second interview.”

Set goals. “Make a list of five things you’re going to talk about before you leave the interview,” McCann says.

Do understand what the employer is looking for in a candidate. Once you’ve built a rapport with interviewers, ask them what the ideal candidate looks like and how they’ll recognize necessary qualities or skills. “The more you know yourself and your stories of accomplishment, the better prepared you are,” McCann says.

Do your homework. Build upon the research you conducted for your first interview. Be up to date on developments in your field or industry by reviewing sources like trade publications and industry associations.

Don’t be caught off guard if asked about salary. Try to save that conversation until there’s a job offer on the table with a response like, ‘I’m sure you’re a very fair company and I’m willing to consider your very best offer when the time is right.’ But have a good idea about what you can expect to earn and suggest a salary range if pressured to reply, McCann advises.

Do reiterate your interest in the job and your belief that you’re the best candidate for the job when the interview comes to a close. Inquire about the next step and when you can expect a reply.

Don’t forget to send a thank-you card within 24 hours. A hand-written note will stand out every time because it demonstrates your willingness to make that extra effort. “Send the note to the person who brought you from the first to second interview,” McCann says. If you’d like, feel free to also send a note to others you met.

Did you hear the one about the ‘Cisco fatty’?

As part of your research on a company, you’re thinking about taking to social media to find out more about what it’s like as an employer. But career consultant Maureen McCann shares a cautionary tale about the “Fatty Cisco Job” candidate who ruined her chances of employment with a single post on Twitter — and become an overnight Internet sensation.

The potential applicant tweeted: “Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work.” An employee at Cisco saw the Tweet and replied: “Who is the hiring manager. I’m sure they would love to know that you will hate the work. We here at Cisco are versed in the web.”

Preparing for a behavioural interview

In a behavioural interview, an employer has determined what skills are needed in the person they hire and will ask questions to find out if a candidate has those skills. Here’s an example: “Tell me about a time when you had to juggle multiple priorities.”

Job seekers can prepare by putting together a handful of stories that demonstrate your competencies as it relates to the job, advises career consultant Maureen McCann. Use the SAR formula: Situation, Action, Result. Here’s an illustration: “This was the situation when I arrived on the scene, this is the action I took to correct or modify the scenario and this is the result of that action.”

“Knowing yourself and your abilities will give you confidence and practice will allow you to tailor the story to a variety of scenarios,” McCann says.