What to expect at a second interview

Posted: 12 Feb 2019

What to expect at a second interview

Second interviews for IT roles are usually either a focused follow-up of the first interview, a technical assessment of skills, or a combination of both. For senior roles, you may have to prepare a presentation on a given topic.

If you are successful in the initial screening of candidates for an IT role, it is likely that you will be called for a second interview. While this is a positive sign, it is important not to be complacent. The employer will have shortlisted the most promising candidates so it will be harder to stand out against this stiffer competition. As with any interview, good preparation is vital.

What to review before a second interview

It is helpful to have a note of questions you were asked at your first interview and the main points that you mentioned in your responses. Familiarise yourself with these as they may crop up again in your second interview.

Review any documentation such as company brochures or reports which you may have been given. Based on this information, and any additional insights you may have gleaned from your research on the company, you might now feel that you know what the job involves and what the employer is looking for. Nevertheless you should still go back over the job description and prepare examples that demonstrate how your skills and experience qualify you for the role. If you used examples in your first interview, try to come up with some new examples as this will help to demonstrate what you have learned in your previous roles.

The format of a second (or subsequent) interview tends to vary from one company to another. If you applied for the role through Eolas Recruitment, now is the time to have a chat with our experts about what to expect at the next stage. We may be able to tell you who you will be meeting and whether the interview is likely to be a follow-up, a technical interview or a combination of both. Knowing this in advance gives you the opportunity to research the interviewers’ backgrounds and interests and may give you some pointers on the areas they are most likely to focus on.

Set out below are some other tips to help you prepare.

Second interview ‘follow up’ questions

It is likely that your first interview was essentially a screening interview. Your second interview will be more focused and more challenging. The interviewers will have notes from the previous meeting and are likely to go back over some ground previously covered. The purpose at this stage is to assess in more detail your suitability for the role and to benchmark you against the other short-listed candidates. Expect to be pressed on areas where you feel your performance was weak in the first interview. Take some time to tease out how you can hone your answers to improve your performance this time around. When thinking about examples that show how you used your skills in previous roles, don’t forget to focus on how these skills are relevant to the role that you are applying for.

If you were given information at the first interview such as brochures, presentations, or other documentation, you may be asked what you have learned about the company and/or role from this material.

You should also read up on any recent news about the company and, if possible, find out who you will be meeting in advance of the interview. If you know the interviewer’s job title and role, it may help you to anticipate the types of questions they are likely to ask.

While you have done well to secure a second interview, remember that the other short-listed candidates have also done well and will be using this interview as an opportunity to sell themselves. Now is not the time to be a shrinking violet so don’t be shy about highlighting why you are the best candidate for the role.

Technical tests in a second interview

Second interviews for IT roles are sometimes technical interviews or involve a technical test of some kind. If this is the case, ask if you should bring a laptop or if one will be provided for you. The more you know about what to expect the easier it will be to prepare.

The form that technical interviews take varies depending on the role and the hiring company. Often you will be interviewed by two or more individuals. For UX roles, you might be asked to sketch out a user journey whereas developer roles often involve a whiteboard challenge.

Generally, interviewers want to understand how you approach a problem so it is important to explain what you are doing as you work out your solution. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if there is something that you don’t understand.

Interview presentations

Depending on the role that you are applying for, you may be required to prepare a presentation on a given topic for your second or subsequent interview. The purpose of this exercise is to differentiate between candidates. It highlights both how you approach a challenge and your communication skills.

Pay close attention to the brief you are given and keep in mind the competencies required for the role. Try to reflect these in a relevant and informative presentation.

If you can, find out who will be at the interview so that you can take their background and interests into account when preparing.

Make sure you know what technology will be available for your presentation and have a back up plan in case anything is not working on the day.

It is a good idea at the start of your presentation to give a brief overview of what you plan to cover. When your audience knows where you are going, they can relax and listen more attentively.

Arrange your points logically and remember that the purpose of visual aids is to enhance what you are saying. For example, you might use a graph or table to illustrate a point. Avoid text-heavy slides and do not read out your slides to your audience.

Practice your presentation aloud well in advance of the interview. This will build your confidence. If possible, seek feedback from a trusted friend or colleague to help you identify anything that is unclear and anticipate questions that the interviewers may ask. Pay particular attention to how you will open and close your presentation as these will stand out in the minds of your audience.

General questions in a second interview

You also need to be ready to answer some general questions at your second interview. “What have you learned about our company?” “Why do you want to work here?” Remember to focus on the company rather than yourself in your response to questions like these. For example, you might say something like, “Your company has a great reputation for innovation and I know that you collaborate with most of the leading e-commerce companies. I enjoy performance tuning for high scale systems and my experience of building applications that scale has also honed my team work and collaboration skills so I would look forward to bringing all of that experience to this role.”

Any questions?

Interviewers will always ask if you have any questions for them so prepare a question or two drawing on the information that you already have about the company and the role.

How Eolas Recruitment can help

When you apply for IT roles advertised by Eolas Recruitment, our experts will guide you through the entire process, including providing advice on CVs and interviews. We also help negotiate salary and benefits. Check our online reviews to see what other candidates say about our services. We take great pride in building long term relationships with IT professionals across all sectors of Ireland’s dynamic economy. So, if you are looking to advance your career, please do get in touch.



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