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Once you have conducted the first round of interviews, you should have narrowed the choice down to a handful of candidates. The second interview will help you make the final decision and give you a fuller picture of who each candidate is and their suitability for your open role.

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Effective interviewing

When hiring someone to work for you remotely, or on a hybrid basis, you can have two different types of interviews.

The first interview could be remote and slightly more formal, while the second could be either more informal or more challenging and conducted in person.

This allows you to get to know your interviewee in two settings. For example, you could also conduct an interview over the phone and then another one in person.

Employers should remember interviews are about two-way communication. You are trying to sell the role, just as much as the applicant is trying to attain it. It should be treated as an informative conversation, rather than a chance to look your best and hide any issues.

You need to represent yourself, your team and your company well. Every candidate is a potential customer, client or advocate to your business, and they will remember how you treat them.

Common second interview questions to ask candidates:

Just as in your first round of interviews, asking the right questions in the second round is crucial to understanding if a candidate is suitable for the role.

Although there are never a fixed set of questions to ask in the second interview, here are our selection of questions for employers to ask which will hopefully allow you to understand a candidate more fully before making a decision on who to hire.

1. What are your long-term career goals?

The way your candidate answers this question will give you an insight into where they would position themselves within your company in the long term.

If they answer directly referencing your business, then they are thinking of remaining there for the future and will work hard towards achieving their own career goals while working hard for the business.

It also allows for you to gauge their personality. Their honesty will be very important when making a final decision about who to hire. When people talk about their goals, they will usually state what they want with some passion. This will show you their priorities when it comes to why they want to work at your company.

2. Do you have any questions about the business or the role since your first interview?

This gives your candidate the opportunity to ask questions they may not have thought of during the nerve-wracking first interview.

This is good for both of you as it allows you to see how much they have prepared for this interview. It also gives them the chance to ask the questions they probably thought of on the journey home from the first interview.

Any gaps that were left can now be filled, as long as they have come prepared or are more confident this time around. Asking only a few questions, or none at all, shows a lack of engagement. If they are simply too nervous, this might indicate that they don’t work well under pressure.

3. How has your job search been going so far?

Asking this second interview question could give you some insight into your competition and the obstacles you might face if they are the best candidate for you – you might find out which other jobs they’ve applied for and what stage they are at in the recruitment process. If they have been to several interviews recently, you may find yourself waiting for their answer, or having to counteroffer to stay competitive. You must ensure you ask everyone the same questions, as with any interview, to prevent discrimination or any kind of bias.

4. What skills do you think are needed for this role?

One of the best second interview questions you can ask candidates is how they view the role. This does not directly ask them what they could offer but questions their ability to comprehend the role and think critically.

It also invites them to state the skills they have and how they compare with what they think is needed.

Essentially, it will show you their expectations of the role, how they interpreted the job description, and whether they have the right understanding of what is involved.

If they have misunderstood anything, you can correct them, so they consider the role with no surprises once they start work. This will increase retention rates because you haven’t misled them, and they have considered all aspects of the role before accepting an offer.

5. Why might you not be suitable for this role?

Giving candidates the chance to reflect on what they might need to work on allows them to think about problems and resolutions – how they would overcome any professional issues they may have in the role.

The positivity or negativity in their answer will give you an idea of their own motivation for achievement.

If their answer refers to them improving and being able to be trained, you may have a more valuable candidate than you realise. Someone with a growth mindset has much more potential to progress and learn than someone with a fixed mindset who only believes that if they can’t do something now, they never will be able to.

6. What changes would you make at this company?

This invites your candidate to analyse the business constructively from the research they may or may not have undertaken prior to the interview. It shows you how knowledgeable they are about your company, and you will know if they’ve engaged with your company before.

It gives you the opportunity to see how they would deal with negative questions and how they would positively bring about change.

Good answers could include more specific training or offering more responsibility to certain members of the team.

7. What is the minimum salary you hope to earn from this role?

This question can help you understand the applicant’s salary expectations and gives you a chance to manage them if they’re too high.

Alternatively, the candidate may have done their research and the salary you’re offering might be lower than what they are worth. Our salary guides can help you both benchmark salaries for roles you might be recruiting for in your sector by region.

You will have the opportunity to raise your offer to match their expectations, if you feel they are worth it.

8. How would you describe your ideal working environment?

The answer to this might give you some insight into their working style, and who they are as a person. If they describe your own work environment, they are a good fit for your company. This will prevent you from hiring someone who is not a cultural fit and increase the chances of them staying.

Someone who describes a company unlike yours might be disappointed if they start working for you, and more likely to leave later.

9. How soon would you be able to start this role?

This is quite a typical question but an important one as the logistics of taking on new staff can be an administrative nightmare.

It can be purely comparative as some candidates will be able to start sooner than others. It also shows their commitment to their current role and how professional they are in their conduct.

If they mention leaving their current position without serving notice, they may do this to your business as well.

Ultimately, good questions are essential in establishing who will be best for your business. Hopefully, having met with a candidate for the second time, you will have a much better understanding of their skills, capabilities and – most importantly – whether they would be a good fit for your business.

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