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Preparing for Second-Round Interview Questions

Updated: May 13

You've advanced to the second round of interviews. Congratulations! But don't get too comfortable, there is still more work ahead. Your interviewer is now seeing who is a good fit for the organization, and who might struggle to fit in. Do you agree with their values? Are your long-term career plans a good match with the growth of the company?


The questions at the second stage will be more role-specific and will focus more on your communication and people skills. If you did not do so for your first-round interview, definitely begin preparing by researching the company. Check out the 'Researching the Company' section in this article for more detailed research advice.


Here are some of the questions you could be asked at second-round job interviews, and examples of good answers. You can see more examples and detailed advice by following the links under each question.


“How Does This Position Fit With Your Career Goals?"

Your interviewer is trying to understand if this job fits into your long-term career plans; is this the job of your dreams, or just a way to earn some money for the summer? They are looking for someone who will join the company and make progress without leaving. Show your interviewer how this job is part of your long-term working plans, and how you would benefit the company by staying and improving your skills.


Example Answer:

"My long-term career goals are to progress through management, and this job at <Company Name> is the perfect next step. I've been looking for a role where I can use my project management skills and take on more responsibility. I'm keen to challenge myself and manage multiple projects, and I know that's a big part of this job. I can see myself working for <Company Name> for a long time because I could achieve everything I want to here."


You can find more examples of interview questions about your career goals, and example answers, here.


“Tell Me About a Difficult Decision You Had to Make and How You Made It.”

Your Interviewer wants to know about your thought processes, and how you deal with challenges. You want to show you use all the information available to you, think about different possible solutions, and choose the option that best fits the company's needs. A good candidate will ask for help when they need it, but be calm under pressure, and think about the effect their choice has on the rest of their team. Choose a time when you had a difficult decision to make, explain the options that were available to you, and how you decided to take the action you chose.


Example Answer:

"I had to choose between working on an extremely important short-term project with a tight deadline, or an equally important long-term project. Because of the competing priorities, I decided to focus on the short-term project with the tight deadline first. I talked with the team about the long-term project, and we came up with a plan to manage my time so I could complete the short-term project, while I kept up to date with the progress of the long-term one by being part of the planning and project meetings. When I had finished the short project I could re-join them fully. It wasn't easy, but it taught me a lot about managing my time and communicating with my team."


You can find more examples of values-based interview questions and example answers here.


“How do You Decide What to Prioritize When You Have Many Tasks With the Same Deadline?"

Your interviewer is testing your organizing and prioritization skills here, so think about how you would handle this situation. You want to show that you use a sensible strategy to choose where to start, and you can remain calm, performing well in stressful situations. Explain your strategy and the tools or programs you would use to help you handle this task.


Example Answer:

"I like using Trello boards. I'd divide each task into small parts that must be accomplished on a daily basis. I'd set aside an hour per day for each assignment and check their progress on a Trello board to make sure I'm still on track. This makes it really clear when one project needs more time than the others, and I can adjust my timing to manage that. If there is too much for me alone to manage for that deadline, the sooner I am open about that with my manager, the sooner we can proactively look for alternative solutions."


For more example questions about prioritizing your work and helpful answers, click here.


“How are We Different from Our Competitors?”

Your interviewer is looking for evidence that you've done your research into the company and understand their products or services. They want to know why you want to work for them specifically, and not a good competitor. Your answer should show you understand the market the company is in, and you can explain a sensible reason to apply to their company specifically. You want to give your interviewer the impression their company is your first choice. We all want to feel special!


Example Answer:

"Your main rivals are <Company A> and <Company B>. While <Company A> has more product choices at lower prices, there have been complaints about the quality of their items, causing customers to turn to <Interview Company> for better value for money. <Company B> is basically on the same level as <Interview Company> in terms of products and services, but their after-sales service has left customers upset and disappointed, according to Yelp. The social media accounts of <Interview Company> show that questions are answered quickly and efficiently. I'd also say that <Interview Company> has a more established and trusted brand presence than <Company A> and ><Company B>."


For more examples and advice on researching companies, click here.


Wrap Up

Remember, you've already shown them you have the skills. Now, it's all about whether you and the company are a good match. Do your homework, understand the company, and be ready to show how your goals fit with theirs. Practice answering questions about making decisions, organizing tasks, and why you think their company is better than their competition.


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