Jamie

How to Handle a Second Interview

interYou’ve applied, passed the first interview process and have been invited back for a second interview for your next payroll or HR job.  Since you’re on such a roll you should keep doing what works, right?  Don’t change a thing and you’ll land the payroll or HR opportunity, right? Wrong!

You’re being invited back to uncover more about yourself – to examine your skills and qualifications both more deeply and in a variety of ways.  You are going to need to up your game and bring something new to the table to land your HR or payroll job.

The good news is you have gotten through what is often the “screening” interview and are in the hiring interview phase.  You need to be prepared for a myriad of ways the interview could turn. Do your homework – come to an understanding on where the business stands and how your payroll or HR skills will lend themselves to the role and the overall organization.  Use your network to help you with this – if you are interviewing at XYZ corp, look for connections on LinkedIn so you can gain some insights. And as a sidebar – if you don’t think a potential employer won’t do the same for you, you’re kidding yourself. Anticipate who might be approached in your network and give them a heads up.

It is hard to anticipate the question that will be asked – some may be designed to uncover personality traits they are looking for in the HR or payroll job, while others may do a deep dive into your experience.  Don’t be thrown, answer honestly and thoroughly but don’t ramble.  It is a fact that”one way” conversations tend to leave the listener feeling cold and tuned out. Engage the interviewer.

You can expect hiring criteria to be a big part of the second interview.  There are items on your resume that will be asked about in a “tell me about it” manner.  You’ve reached a point in time where it is you and just a few other candidates, so demonstrate thought process and creative problem solving in your answers to differentiate yourself.

Inevitably, you will be asked a tough question about an area of payroll or HR in which the interviewer perceives you to be weak.  If this is a misconception, confidently share your experience. If you are indeed light on experience, focus on your skills and talents and how they lend themselves to the particular area… don’t simply say “I am a quick learner,” everyone says that. Talk about your skills and how you have used them before to achieve in an area where your experience was light.

If you have made it past the first interview, they have determined (for the most part) that you can fill the payroll or HR role they are hiring for – they are simply comparing you to other candidates they can say the same about.

So be yourself, be honest, and remember that an interview goes two ways.  Find out if this is the place for you – from a personality and professional challenge standpoint.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions! An actual conversation will reveal to both of you if this is a good fit. The first interview’s goal was to obtain the second interview – your goal now is to find out if this HR or payroll opportunity is right for you.

You are there to make an impression, make a good one and an offer will follow!

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