Second Interview Questions: What to Expect, What to Ask, and How to Prepare

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Discover common questions to ask and answer during your second interview and how to prepare for this juncture of your job search.

[Featured Image] A man and woman are conducting an interview.

What to expect in a second interview

Landing a second job interview is a huge accomplishment and an excellent opportunity to get to know a potential employer, gather more information about a position, and go deeper on your qualifications. In the days leading up to a second interview, set aside time to prepare and build off the success of the first interview. 

First, consider how your second interview may differ from the first:

  • Meeting more senior-level company members

  • Meeting with several people at once in a panel interview

  • Focusing less on the skills and experience you presented in the first interview 

  • Exploring your ability to perform the role, including how you’ll approach different scenarios and ideas you have about the company’s goals

  • Questions to gauge how you’ll fit into the company’s culture and work environment

  • Discussions around salary, your preferred management style, and long-term career goals

In the following sections, you’ll prepare to answer common second interview questions and generate questions to ask your interviewers so that you can walk into your interview feeling confident and focused. 

6 second-round interview questions to anticipate 

An important first step is asking your recruiter or point of contact about the second interview’s focus areas, including specific topics that will be covered and any work samples or presentation material you’ll need to bring.

Next, review the following interview questions and prepare answers: 

1. Is there anything you’d like to discuss from the first interview?

This question offers all parties the opportunity to build off the success of the first interview and share new insights that surfaced in the time since. 

To form potential answers, reflect on your first interview experience and jot down the questions you asked and answered, the highlights of your performance, and what you learned about the role and the company. Use these notes to identify details you’d like to discuss further, such as the typical workflow, expectations of someone filling the role, and professional development opportunities. 

2. Our team is working on [project, goal, or initiative]. What are your ideas for contributing to it?  

This is an example of a situational interview question that interviewers ask to gauge how well your skills might translate to real-world scenarios. Your interviewers may ask it and disclose more detailed information about the team’s projects than what they shared during the first interview. To form potential answers to this question, conduct in-depth research on the team and what it has accomplished. Phrase your ideas for contributing in the most tangible and actionable ways possible. 

An alternative form of this question might be, “Our team is experiencing [problem]. How would you solve it?”

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3. Tell us about a time when you had to make a difficult decision quickly. How did you arrive at your decision, and what was the result?  

This is an example of a behavioral interview question that interviewers ask to learn more about a candidate’s problem-solving skills and approach to past work-related scenarios to determine if they’re a good fit for the position. Your answer to this question may offer prospective employers insights into how you think under pressure and contribute to a team’s workflow.

For your second interview, prepare STAR answers (Situation, Task, Actions, Result) to behavioral questions you didn’t answer in the first interview. Make sure the stories you’re telling about prior work experience do not repeat material you’ve already discussed. That way, the second interview will advance the conversation and bring more details about your job history to the surface. 

Read more: Practice Interview Questions: How to Tell Your Story

4. Which of our company’s values resonates most with you?

By the second interview, interviewers will want to have an idea of how you’ll transition into the company’s culture and contribute to it. Your goal is to demonstrate that you’ve researched the company, reflected on what it stands for, and that you are ready to contribute to its mission.

Reflect on the company’s values and identify the one that means the most to you. Prepare your answer by connecting it to your values, professional motivations, and experiences. 

5. What’s your preferred management style?

As with the fourth question, this one can help interviewers gauge how you’ll collaborate with managers, including accepting feedback and offering your suggestions for the team’s improvement. Your goal is to provide a detailed description of the management style you prefer, how it translated to your past work experiences and successes, and how it can help you thrive. [1]

Reflect on your experiences with various mentors, managers, and supervisors. Which ones contributed the most to your success and growth? What was their method of delivering positive feedback and constructive criticism? How much interaction did you have with these leaders as you completed tasks and projects? Did they guide you through every aspect of your work or give you more leeway? 

6. What are your salary expectations for this role?

There are several reasons why employers might ask you about salary expectations during the second interview, including:

  • Learning the rationale behind your salary expectations 

  • Comparing your salary expectations to what the company has budgeted for the role

  • Understanding your willingness to negotiate a salary

  • Observing how you equate the value of your work and contribution to a company to a salary range

To prepare your answer, consider the salaries you earned in current and past roles, the average salary range for the job title available on sites like Glassdoor and Indeed, your expertise and concrete professional successes, and your income goals. During the interview, you might choose to offer a salary range you’d be open to, express whether you’re willing to negotiate, and emphasize your skills and qualifications. 

7 questions to ask in a second interview 

As with your first interview, you should prepare questions to ask your interviewers. Your goals here are to gather the information you need to make a confident career decision and demonstrate your interest in the position you’re seeking. 

Start by reflecting on your personal and professional goals, other companies you might be interviewing with, and how this position aligns with your career trajectory. Plan to ask questions that will tie up loose ends and empower you with the information you need, building from the seven examples below.

1. What was it about our last interview that prompted you to invite me to a second one? 

Asking this question can signal to interviewers that you are open to feedback and eager to apply learnings from past successes to future efforts. Listen for answers that address details about your first interview performance, your skills and other qualifications, and their curiosity about your potential. 

2. How do members of this team collaborate?  

You can ask this question as a follow-up to an interviewer’s questions about your impression of company culture and management style preferences [2]. Listen carefully for details on communication practices, email policies, scheduling meetings with managers, and the number of team members working on a given project. 

If you’ll be working onsite rather than remotely, find out about the office layout. Are there open tables, cubicles, separate offices, and a common area? Such details can reveal important information about the team’s collaboration style and whether it’s the right fit for you.

3. How will my skills in particular help strengthen the team?  

Asking this question can demonstrate that you are looking for specific ways to apply your skills to help the team succeed. Listen for details on which of your skills most impress interviewers and how you might build new skills to enhance the team’s performance.  

4. What challenges does this company face that someone in my role can help address? 

Asking this question can demonstrate to interviewers that you are on the lookout for opportunities to contribute to the team’s success and the company’s mission. Listen for details on how managers inform employees about challenges, the tasks involved in addressing challenges and preventing future ones, and how employees are expected to report and address challenges. 

5. In light of these two interviews, what career growth opportunities do you foresee for me at this company, and how does this team support employees’ growth? 

Asking this question shows you are thinking about what’s possible for you at this company for the long term. Reducing employee turnover rate may be important to the company. Listen for details on courses, training, and professional development that the company may invest in and opportunities to advance into leadership roles with more responsibility and higher pay.

6. At this juncture in the interview process, what hesitations on your end can I clear up? 

Asking this question gives everyone the chance to discuss any lingering concerns candidly, so that everyone present can leave the interview with valuable information out in the open. It also shows that you are willing to receive potentially uncomfortable feedback, present your qualifications to the full extent, and learn from your interview performance while remaining mindful of employers’ goals for filling the position. 

7. Do my salary expectations for this role align with yours? 

This question is a useful follow-up to the discussion around your desired salary range and the information you used to come up with that range. Depending on interviewers’ answers, you may be able to deduce how willing an employer is to match your expectations or negotiate with you to offer a salary that everyone can agree on.

4 additional tips to prepare for your second interview  

In addition to knowing which questions to ask and answer, keep the following tips in mind as you prepare for the second interview. 

1. Research your interviewers. 

Once you’ve confirmed the location, time, and agenda for your interview, find out the names and roles of your interviewers. Research their backgrounds and tenures with the company and look for opportunities to build rapport.

2. Review career-specific interview question examples for inspiration.

In addition to familiarizing yourself with common second interview questions, reserve some time to review questions that job candidates in your field may need to answer. 

Here are examples from different industries:

3. Be ready to ask some of your questions at any moment of the interview, not just at the end. 

While most interviewers will provide time at the end of an interview to ask questions, you may find that some of the questions interviewers ask throughout the conversation relate to the ones you’ve prepared. In these cases, it may be appropriate to ask interviewers to pause and consider your question. 

Here’s an example: “I have a question about this topic. Would you mind if we discussed it before moving on?”

4. Plan to ask no more than five questions during the interview.

Depending on the amount of time the potential employer reserves for the second interview, you may not have a chance to ask more than five questions. Prepare to ask up to 10 questions so that you have more than enough in mind during the interview. Listen for questions from your interviewers that may cover some of your prepared questions. Ask only the most important questions from the 10 you’ve prepared. 

Build interviewing and job skills with Coursera

Online courses can be a great way to prepare for interviews and advance your career.  Master advanced interview questions and improve your resume with the Art of the Job Interview course by Big Interview. Build the job skills employers are looking for with Coursera Plus, a membership that offers unlimited access to over 7,000 courses, certifications, and hands-on projects. 

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 Article Sources 

  1. Indeed.  “Interview Question: What Management Style Do You Prefer,   https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/interviewing/what-management-style-do-you-prefer#:~:text=Employers%20ask%20about%20your%20management%20style%20preferences%20to%20determine%20whether,together%20and%20promote%20productive%20operations”  Accessed April 8, 2022. 

  2. Indeed.  “  How To Prepare For Company Culture Fit Interview Questions,  https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/interviewing/cultural-interview-questions”  Accessed April 8, 2022.  

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