Do you schedule your most qualified candidates for a second interview? If not, you might want to consider adopting the practice. A second interview with a job candidate can tell you much that you need to know to assess your candidate’s qualifications and cultural fit.
At the first job interview you or your team members, depending on your organization’s hiring practices, meet the candidates and assess basic qualifications and cultural fit. But, you need to think about hiring an employee as more like a friendship or a marriage. Employment can last for years. Do you sign people on indefinitely after just one meeting? I’ll bet not. They need to grow on you and your confidence in making a job offer needs to increase and gain certainty.
Employers schedule a second interview to increase their knowledge about the candidate and to further the feeling that you are comfortable that you and other company employees can work with the individual successfully.
For the candidate to make it to a second interview, he or she was among your most qualified and liked interviewees. Before the initial interview, you already invested time in reviewing applications and cover letters, doing phone interviews to narrow the field, and as a result, you selected the potential employees to come to onsite interviews.
The candidates you select for a second interview are your best prospects. They are a small percentage of the people you initially interviewed. Here is why a second interview is a good idea.
- If you are the hiring manager, you have initial positive impressions from the first interview about the candidate’s skills and potential cultural fit. You need to confirm your first impressions to feel comfortable making a job offer.
- You will want to add to the group of employees who initially interviewed the candidate. While in a first interview, the candidate may have met HR staff, the hiring manager, and a couple of others, at a second interview, you will want to add more coworkers. Your interviewers should also include the hiring manager and HR staff again plus the executive responsible for the department.
You are allowing many employees to have input into vetting the qualifications and interaction of the potential employee. This is good because the more employees who own and share responsibility for the hire the better. They will be invested in the new employee’s success.
- A second interview tends to last a half to a full day. Consequently, your team can assess whether the individual remains the person they thought they met at the first interview. People are competent at projecting an image of who they are for a couple of hours, but most individuals cannot fake an image for a whole day. In this time frame, your team will also take the applicant out for a meal and this gives you another level of insight into the candidate’s manners, social competence, and interpersonal interaction skills.
- You have different expectations of your candidates in a second interview and you want to see if your candidate rises to fulfill them. By the second interview, the candidate has had the opportunity to research you, your employees, the company, and more. He or she has talked for several hours about the job and its challenges with current employees. Assuming you gave him an agenda for the day – which I recommend – he has also researched the employees with whom he will interview.
During a second interview, he should be able to tell you his ideas for the position and what he can contribute if selected for the job. He ought to be able to draw a line between his skills and experience and the needs of the position. This is why the questions that you ask during a second interview are different from the first interview questions – more specific and notable by the enriching detail they encourage. You give the candidate the opportunity to shine a light on the skills and knowledge he has to offer your department.
- Be prepared to answer questions from the candidate, too. This is her opportunity to find out about your company and whether she will fit in. The second interview often brings detailed questions as the candidate works with you to see if this marriage will work. Candidates ask questions that range from why the current employee left to what will be your expectations of them in the job. They ask about opportunities for professional development and further career growth. You need to prepare detailed answers so that both parties are doing their part in determining if the match is a good fit.
- If you ask your candidates to complete a job related test or assignment prior to the interview, this is when you hear and see the results of the candidate’s efforts. Increasing in popularity, a job related test or assignment provides insight into how the candidate approaches work. You can assess creativity, follow through, thoroughness, experience and a variety of other personal and professional characteristics. In some settings, the second interview can involve the actual test. For example, a tech employee is asked to solve a problem on a white board or a customer support candidate is asked to respond to several customer emails.
- Increasingly, in the competition for employees with scarce skills, the second interview is an opportunity to market your organization to the candidate. Use the second interview to demonstrate what life is like working for your company. Let your current employees share stories about the company. Stories illuminate your culture and provide a sense of the work environment and its challenges and expectations. Offer information about benefits and perks, especially perks that may not have appeared in your job posting. At the same time, you need to balance the cultural fit of your prospect with your hard sell.
Are you convinced about the need to hold a second interview with your prospective employees? I hope so. A second interview gives your hiring team necessary information, a chance to interact interpersonally with your job candidates, and a much better feel for whether the relationship has the potential to work. You make better hiring decisions when you have all of this additional information.