Ten top tips for Interviewers to conduct the perfect second interview

Whereas the first interview is an opportunity to gain an idea of the potential ‘fit’ of a candidate and an overview of the candidates’ suitability for the role, a second interview is the time to really drill down the details.

One of the best ways to achieve this is to make the second interview in part what is known as a ‘competency based’ interview. “Competency” is a concept linking three parameters – Knowledge, Skills and Attitude. For example – you might have good interpersonal skills (skills), but will not be competent to join a company as Project Manager unless you possess adequate education/experience (knowledge) and the right temperament/behaviour (attitude).

Our advised structure is to make the first part of the second interview a check of the candidates’ abilities against the competencies required for the role, and the second part to agree the final ‘structure’ of the role from both the employer and employee perspective (thus avoiding any misunderstanding or nasty surprises later).

1.To test knowledge, it’s best to ask questions which allow the candidate to demonstrate their understanding by using scenarios. Begin questions with ‘Tell me about how you would handle it if … ‘and/or ‘Give me an example of when you…’ This is a fantastic way to avoid them giving ‘formulaic’ answers and avoids just firing off technical questions like an exam or test

2.Before the interview write a list of the top 10 attributes or competencies for the specific role. That way you can frame your questions to test the candidate against these ‘competencies’. For example, if the job requires leadership skills you might want to ask them to give an example of where they have inspired and managed a team to achieve success. If the role is delivering client advice you may want to ask them to talk through a specific scenario

3.Try to include some ‘compound questions’ within the interview. A compound question is one made up of several parts. An example would be ‘what was the most difficult part of your previous role and why?’ As a compound question requires an expansive answer (by its very nature) it gives you to the opportunity to hear the candidate both speaking at length and thinking on their feet. With a client facing role particularly, the ability to communicate is imperative, so this is a terrific way to test it

4.It can sometimes be helpful in a second interview to see more of the office environment and potentially meet some of the wider team. This allows the candidate to understand the working environment before they commit to the role

5.If you are certain that you are still interested in the candidate by the end of the interview you may decide to give them an ‘offer in principle’. You do not necessarily need to give them the salary offer on the spot, but by giving them some ‘commitment’ before they leave it help to avoid them accepting another role

6.It is sometimes helpful to include the future ‘line manager’ in this interview, as they will potentially have a clearer handle on the specifics of the day to day demands of the job. It’s good to have a second opinion on the candidate if you conducted the first interview solo

7.Plan the interview questions in advance using the above criteria. This will help you keep on track. It will also ensure that if you are interviewing several people for the same role at the same stage, you have a fair comparison

8.During the main body of the interview the conversation should be biased towards the candidate talking around 70% of the time. Try to avoid interrupting their answers or rushing. Keep any ‘informational’ segments of the interview towards the beginning and end of the interview, this helps to prevent the feeling that you are ‘talking at’ them

9.Give the candidate plenty of opportunity to ask questions, it may reveal as much about them as the questions you ask

10.Make sure you sum up at the end of the interview, give the candidate a firm idea of next steps and timescales. The candidate may have other offers on the table and they will need to understand your position in relation to their job search

For guidance on interviewing techniques in general please call us on 0333 577 7787 or email info@publicpracticerecruitment.co.uk to speak with one of our dedicated consultants.


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