You have successfully passed the initial screening interview, you have overcome the first hurdle. Great news! Now they have invited you for the interview in the company–your 2nd test. Perhaps you are just one little step from signing an excellent employment contract.

But how does the second interview differ from the first one? What questions will they ask you? And how to make a good impression on the hiring managers? We will try to find the answers on the following lines.


Second, or final interview?

In many cases, second interview will be also the final interview in the company. At the end of the entire session (when they finished interviewing the last applicant), they will decide who gets the job, and notify each applicant about the result.

If you apply for a management role, however, or for a highly technical position, second interview will typically be just another step in the hiring process. Even when you do extremely well, you will still have to pass the final interview (meeting with the decision maker), or even go through the assessment center. In the article, however, we will focus on the second interview, and the most common questions you will deal with in this meeting. Let’s go!

Three people talk in an interview. One woman and two man. One of the man is the job applicant.

Behavioral interviewing

We know that you meet the basic job requirements. We know that you have good communication skills, and would not do badly in your new job. All these questions have been already answered, in the screening stage of hiring process (the first interview).

In the second interview with you, we try to understand how you would act in various work related situations, how would you handle them. Your answers to behavioral questions help us to understand your attitude to work, to your colleagues, and to all kinds of things that happen on the workplace. You can expect to get some of the following questions.


Describe a situation when you were under pressure in work.

Interviewers want to hear how you reacted to the pressure, if you managed to prioritize your tasks, and how did the pressure you felt affected you in your daily job, and health-wise.

You will most likely face stressful situations and deadlines in your new job, so they want to see if you are ready to face the challenges, without experiencing some long term impact on your well-being and performance at work.

Ensure them that you understand the job description, and that you count with experiencing pressure. Then you should explain your way of dealing with it, narrating situation from the past.

If this is your first job application, tell them what you would do in a stressful situation. Alternatively you can narrate a stressful situation from school—for example when you were preparing for an important exam. At the end of the day, your attitude to pressure, and your ability to deal with it, matters for the interviewers more than the situation you narrate.


Describe a conflict you had with a colleague.

Conflicts belong to every workplace, and we can not entirely avoid them. Interviewers try to understand your attitude to conflicts, whether you always blame the other person, or can admit making a mistake, being wrong.

They also consider whether you solve the conflicts constructively, or destructively—cutting your connections with the other conflict party. And they consider if you prefer a proactive approach, trying to find some compromise and solve the conflict on your own terms, or if you always call the manager (your superior) to take care of the situation.

You should show them that you try to avoid conflicts, staying honest and friendly to your colleagues. When it happened, however (and it has for sure happened in your life at least once),
you looked for a constructive solution, and tried your best to ensure that the conflict would not affect your work, or the work of your colleagues, once the waters settled again. You can check 7 sample answers to this question here.


Other common behavioral questions you will face in the 2nd job interview

  • Tell me about an obstacle you overcame.
  • Describe a time when you had to deal with an angry or upset client (customer).
  • Describe a situation when you did not agree with the opinion (or decision) of your superior or supervisor, and knew that they were wrong. How did you handle that?
  • Describe a situation when you faced a particularly demanding problem or challenge in your personal life. How did that affect you in your job?
  • Describe a time when you struggled to communicate something to your boss, colleague, or to a customer. How did you manage to get your message over?
  • Describe the most difficult decision you’ve ever made.
  • Describe a time when you experienced a conflict of your personal and professional interests. How did you get over it?
  • What is the biggest mistake you’ve made in your career?
  • Describe a time when you struggled to build a relationship with someone important. How did you eventually overcome that?
  • Describe a time when you faced an ethical dilemma.
  • Give an example of a time you showed initiative at work.
  • In what areas of customer service do you have experience? (Describe your experience in different areas of customer service).
  • Give an example of an occasion when you used logic to solve a problem.
  • What is the most difficult situation you’ve ever faced at work?
  • Describe the situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to make a decision without all information you needed.
  • Have you ever worked on a project that was a failure?
  • Tell me about a time you had to comply with a policy or procedure that you did not agree with.
  • Tell me about a time you disagreed with your boss.

Special Tip: If you aren’t sure how to deal with these questions, or you remained silent when you heard them in your last job interview, have a look at our eBook, Ace Your Behavioral-Based Job Interview. Up to 7 sample answers to 31 most common behavioral interview questions will surely help you find the right words when it counts the most, and outclass your competitors in the second interview…

Duo of hiring managers talks to a job applicant. The second interview takes places in a school environment.

Technical questions – you may face them in the second interview

Your answers to behavioral questions tell us a lot about you: how you approach your work, your colleagues, how you would act in various work related situations.

But they do not tell us much about your readiness for a particular job, especially for a technical aspect of it–whether you can cook (if you interview for a job in a restaurant) whether you can design websites (if you interview for a web designer position), whether you can actually manage people, design a marketing campaign, etc.

Only your answers to technical questions (both theoretical and practical) will tell us something more about your readiness for the job–whether you can really do it, or can just talk about doing it. Of course, in some cases you will get on-job training, and they do not expect you to know how to handle this or that. You will learn it in the job. In such a case you may not get any technical questions.

As you can probably guess, technical interview questions vary from one position to another. If you want to see questions that are specific for your position, navigate to this section of our website, choose your job field and a position you apply for.


Final thoughts

Once they invited you for a second interview, they do not doubt your education or experience anymore. But they want to learn more about your attitude to work and other people (your answers to behavioral questions tell a story about it), and your readiness for technical aspects of the job (answers to job-specific questions indicate that).

Get ready for both of these groups, and you will succeed in your interview. I wish you best of luck!


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Matthew Chulaw
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