How to Get a Second Interview

A second interview means you're a serious candidate, so your goal should be to make that next meeting happen.

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It’s the cliffhanger that’s used in countless TV shows and movies: “To be continued...” We already know that the sequel is never as good as the original, but when it comes to searching for a job, that rule doesn’t apply. Part Two has to be better than the original.

When you go on a job interview, your goal is obvious: get the job. But it’s also wise to take a step back and think short-term. If we break the interview process into bite-size pieces, your goal is to get a second interview. Unlike a boxing match, you can afford to let it all hang out in Round One. After all, you’re not guaranteed to see another round. But holding back a little something, a tiny little “to be continued...” of your own, can help you land the second interview.

[See 7 Things Your Interviewer Wants You to Know.]

Here’s a smart strategy for getting asked back for a second interview: Ascertain from the employer the biggest problem you’d help solve in the position. Then, in your thank you letter, include a brief but well thought-out solution. Let the person know that you’d love to arrange a second meeting so you can elaborate on your plan. Of course, you’d better have the goods to back it up when you get called back for a second interview. But piquing the interviewer’s curiosity to learn more is a sure-fire way to get a second interview.

Another tactic is to ask for a take-away assignment. Create a situation where you can prove to the employer that you understand the job and have the skills to deliver. Handing in your "homework" also gives you another excuse to follow-up after the thank you letter and keep yourself at the top of the candidate pile. Sharing information on a tool or service that you referenced during your interview is another great way to follow up after an initial interview.

End the interview by asking for details about the company’s hiring process. Mention that you would like a second meeting to learn more about the company and meet other staff members. Stress the importance of the job situation being a long-term match for both parties.

Have strong references? Use them to your advantage. When a potential employer reaches out to your professional network, an offer or second interview opportunity is often imminent. That means if you have great references, you should offer them during the first interview.

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The employer often has three main objectives when calling you back for a second interview: to determine whether you will fit in with the corporate culture of the organization; to have you meet additional staff, likely including your direct boss; and to get assurance that you can do the required tasks.

If a job sounds like a good fit after the second interview, you should end by asking for the job. Come straight out and tell the employer that you want the job and are confident that you’re a good fit for the organization. It sounds overly simplistic, but it never hurts to show your enthusiasm for the position and actually ask for the job.

Here’s to hoping you have a second interview in the near future.

Andrew G. Rosen is the founder and editor of Jobacle.com, a career advice blog. He is also the author of How to Quit Your Job.

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