What Should I Ask in the Second Round of an Interview?

Sharp questions reflect a sharp, curious mind.

Sharp questions reflect a sharp, curious mind.

If you believe that “there’s no such thing as a bad question”, then you have already adopted the correct mindset for a second job interview. An invitation to a second round means the job is either yours to lose, or yours to claim. You owe it to yourself to be proactive and approach the second interview as a way to vet the company, the position, and the employees. This is your chance to learn if you have found a good professional and personal fit by asking a few critical questions.

Review any notes you may have taken during the first interview, and think back to points that were raised. Formulate relevant follow-up questions and bring them with you to the interview. Be prepared to ask the questions in a different order in which you have written them if need be, and check them off as the interview proceeds.

Follow the interviewer’s lead and time your questions accordingly. Some interviewers approach a second round as a one-way informational session; others encourage a two-way conversation. In the former case, it would be more appropriate to save your questions until the end of the interview.

Inquire about the company culture by asking, “What’s it like to work here?”. Follow up on this question by asking about the advantages and drawbacks of the company’s work environment.

Ask the interviewer about her own history and experiences with the company. If she would be your direct supervisor, ask her to describe her management style to learn whether it’s a good fit for you.

Find out why the position you are interviewing for is now open, or why it was created. Gently persist if you are told that it’s open simply because “so-and-so” accepted a position elsewhere. Ask how many people have held the position over the last five years to develop a picture of the company’s turnover rate.

Probe deeper about the interviewer’s attitude toward employee satisfaction and retention by asking for her opinion on former employees’ strengths and weaknesses. Ask questions such as "How did they contribute most?" and "How could they have been more valuable to the company’s efforts?". These questions cut right to the heart of the employer’s values and expectations.

Ask if you can spend time some time talking with employees in an informal manner. Remember that an employer who is proud of her company culture, employee relationships, and workflow is eager to expose all three elements because she truly wants you to join the team.

Tip

  • Trust your gut instinct. If you’re extended an offer but are still unsure about the position, ask for a “shadow day” so that you can observe the workplace at close range and make a more informed decision.
 

About the Author

With education, health care and small business marketing as her core interests, M.T. Wroblewski has penned pieces for Woman's Day, Family Circle, Ladies Home Journal and many newspapers and magazines. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northern Illinois University.

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