The Best Questions To Ask Candidates In A Second Interview

December 8, 2022
Mikaella McInerney
The Best Questions To Ask Candidates In A Second Interview

It’s always an exciting moment to move to a second interview. Your candidate has already ticked the box in multiple ways: their CV indicated they were a good fit, their cover letter expressed enthusiasm, any pre-employment tests are coming up green. And they’ve impressed you in a first screening interview, ensuring you’re ready to take the next steps and go deeper in your discussion with them to see if they’re the right fit for the role.

A second interview tends to be longer and deeper than a first interview, so it’s important to make sure you’re prepared. In this article, we’ll break down important strategies and tips to keep in mind for a second interview as well as the best questions you can ask to find out everything you need to know about potential candidates.

Let’s get started with some second interview best practices… 

Involve someone else

Whether you’re working in HR or alone as a hiring manager, a second interview is a great opportunity to bring another person (or multiple other people!) into the process. Hiring as part of a team helps you avoid bias and gives you the opportunity to see how your candidate relates to different people. Another person might also notice something important, pick up on a significant detail or add questions to the list that you might have forgotten. Ultimately, the candidate is not going to work with you alone, so it’s important that you don’t interview them alone!

Drill down on professional history

In the first interview, you probably focused on the “where” and “what”s of your candidate’s professional history. Where did they last work, what did they do there, what did they study, what were their responsibilities? But in the second interview, it’s time to go deeper: dive into the “how” and “why”s. It’s time to discover not just where they worked, but why they worked there and, just as importantly, why they left! You could also discover more detail about the candidate’s prior experience and how it developed their character, diving into the “how”s by exploring previous challenges, projects, triumphs and setbacks in their professional history.

Discover their motivation and working style

If you know what drives a candidate, you’ll have a great sense of whether they’ll be a good fit for the specific culture, opportunities and challenges awaiting them at your organization. In the second interview, you’ll have time to talk about the candidate’s passions, interests and what they love about what they do, so that you can find out if these traits complement your own company and the role that’s waiting for a candidate there. It’s also important to discover how they work: are they happiest in a team or do they prefer to follow their own initiative? Do they love tight deadlines or do they work best with a clear long-term forecast? All of this information will help you assess their fit for your organization’s particular working culture.

Don’t forget the next screening steps

Because a second interview is so involved, it’s tempting to make a decision immediately after you’ve finished interviewing all the candidates. But even though there’s lots you can learn in a second interview, it’s not the final word in the recruitment process. Make sure you still give weight to other important assessment tactics. Most important is the candidate reference check and talent assessment tests.

The best questions to ask during a second interview

No more teasing - here they are! Some of our favorite questions to ask during a second interview.

Professional History Questions

  1. Describe a challenge you came up against at work recently. What was it and how did you resolve it?
  2. Describe a time when you failed. What did you do next?
  3. Describe a time when you disagreed with your manager. What happened?
  4. Has there been a time where you didn’t have a good working relationship with a colleague? How did you handle it?
  5. When was the last time you had to work under pressure and how was the experience?
  6. Why are you choosing to leave your current job?
  7. What was your greatest working accomplishment as part of a team?
  8. Which of your skills do you think you will use most in this position?
  9. What type of impact did you make at your last role?
  10. What's the most difficult decision you have made in your career?

Working Style Questions

  1. Do you prefer to work in a team or independently? Why?
  2. How do you prioritize your work?
  3. How do you respond to criticism?
  4. What motivates you?
  5. How do you make difficult decisions?
  6. What have you done to help someone else succeed at work?
  7. What interests you about our industry and why?
  8. What’s your ideal working environment?
  9. What support do you require from managers?
  10. How does this role align with your professional goals?

Culture Questions

  1. Do you want to revisit anything from our last interview?
  2. Outside of work, what are your hobbies and interests?
  3. Why do you want to work for this company?
  4. Which of our company values do you most strongly relate to, and why?
  5. What was the last movie you saw that made you a little emotional?
  6. How do you manage a good work/life balance?
  7. Are you more likely to ask for forgiveness or permission?
  8. Tell me a story about your best day and your worst day at work.
  9. Among the people you've worked with, who do you admire and why?
  10. What is a question I should have asked you but haven’t?

Need help evaluating candidates before or after a second interview?

Don’t leave it all down to the interview. HiPeople’s smart hiring technology offers you the chance to assess and evaluate candidates with data-driven insights and objective results. Book a demo today.