If you showcase your skills, qualifications and how you fit perfectly in the organizational culture in spectacular fashion, you might very well get a job offer during your second interview. But for that to happen -- especially if the company you're interviewing with has a step-intensive hiring process -- you'll need to blow the cover off the ball with your interview responses and establish terrific rapport with the hiring manager.
Basic Interview Processes
Employers who are careful about hiring the right candidate don't rush the interview process, because doing so could result in costly employment decisions. Typically, the basic interview process consists of a preliminary interview via telephone and at least one face-to-face interview. When the preliminary phone interview is just a brief one -- say, five or 10 minutes -- that conversation might not count as an interview. It could just be confirmation of your continued interest in the job and verification that you have the basic qualifications.
Second Interview Focus
Preliminary phone interviews and the first face-to-face interview generally comprise questions about your job skills. Employers generally use the early stage of the interview process to determine whether you have done similar work or if you have transferable skills needed to perform the job functions. Therefore, at the end of many second-round interviews, all the employer knows is that you're capable of doing the job. An important part of the hiring process is whether you're the right person for the job and fit the workplace culture. By the time you finish a second interview, the hiring manager may not have even considered whether you're a good fit for the organization. Consequently, a job offer would be premature at this point.
Executive Interview Process
Depending on the job, how much responsibility you'll have and whether you supervise others, there could be another face-to-face interview with a higher-level manager or director. Candidates interviewing for executive-level positions might expect a series of interviews: questions from a panel, a selection committee, a peer group, board members and even future staff members who will report to you. Making a conditional job offer or even hinting that a candidate is right for the job probably isn't going to happen at the second interview for a high-level position.
Unless the recruiter or hiring manager makes a point to describe the company's hiring process, you should ask questions about who makes the hiring decision and when. Asking questions about the hiring process obviously shows you're interested in the job, but it satisfies your curiosity about how to proceed with your job search. For example, you could ask, "When do you anticipate making a decision? How many interviews do you conduct before the final meeting?"
Conditional Job Offer
Even if you receive a job offer after the second interview, it's likely to be a conditional job offer -- not a final, written job offer. The first time you learn that the company wants to hire you, it will be contingent upon you successfully passing the background check and drug screening. Your credentials and licenses also may need to be verified before you receive a final offer.
- HCareers: Nail the Second Interview: How to Secure a Hospitality Job Offer
- ERE.net: 5 Steps to a World-Class Second Interview
- Global Association of Professional Resume Writers and Career Coaches: Turning a Second Interview Into a Job Offer
- Higher Intellect: 10 Minute Guide to Conducting a Job Interview
Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ruth resides in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.