5 Tips for the #SecondInterview

By George Bernocco, CPRW

round two

Getting the call back from the employer is always a good sign. Something about your resume may have stood out, or something about your first interview made them want you. However, you might not be the only one that has caught their eye. They may need further information to determine who the qualified candidate really is. Having made it through a first interview, you may not know what the second interview will entail. Here are some expectations, information and suggestions when you get the call.

  1. The follow-up interview should not be a surprise

When the employer asked you at the end of the first interview if you had any questions, one of them should have been “when can I expect to hear back from you?” In the answer, the employer might tell you they are looking to narrow down a pool of candidates. Or they might tell you “there will be another round of interviews by this date”. Even if you didn’t get a response about a second interview, you should always expect it. Phone interviews (or teleconference interviews) can typically lead to in-person interviews. A strong candidate will know that there is always more to say about how qualified they are for the position, and should not be afraid to come back in to do it.

  1. You were seen as a viable candidate

Coming in for the second interview, you stood out to the person (or people) who interviewed you the first time. If you do encounter this person at the second interview, chances are that they will not be alone. They will be demonstrating you to their boss, colleagues or your future coworkers. Acknowledge this person, and don’t be afraid to reference anything you spoke about in the prior interview. This person is your key to the success of the second interview, and you want to make sure you elaborate. By the time the second interview has commenced, you should know why they identified you for the next round.

  1. What wasn’t asked, will be asked

If you feel like there were areas you didn’t cover in the first interview, rest assured you have your “second chance”. The second interview will be tougher, meaning more questions, more elaboration, more about you and more about the position. Some second interviews will bring up your salary requirements so be prepared for that question. Just remember that you should always let the employer bring up questions surrounding salary and you should never initiate the discussion. Situational questions, stress questions and/or tests will be provided to really distinguish you from the rest. Details you did not have time to cover in the first interview should be elaborated upon. Think of it this way: the first interview was generic, the second interview is specifics.

  1. Third interview is always a possibility

Don’t assume the interview process is complete when you walk out the door of the second interview. A third interview and beyond can occur when an extremely large amount of people applied, or the employer just wants to be extra sure about whom they hire. Usually with the third interview, they’ve narrowed down the applicant pool to less than a handful of possible candidates. By now you should be more than confident about the position, and at this phase the employer will be discussing very specific details about the job to see how your knowledge and skills can apply.

  1. Don’t forget the Thank You letter

Just as with the first interview, make sure you follow up with a thank you letter. The same rules apply: send or e-mail it out within the first 48 hours (the sooner the better). Mention specifics about the second interview and send it to any individual you met with. One page should always suffice and specifics from the interview should be mentioned.

Do not get discouraged if you are not offered the position after the second interview. You’ve stood out; they’ve seen your resume and talked with you. This company will remember you if other positions are available. They may contact you as soon as the position is posted, before any one else applies. Interviews are a way of networking, and you should have the name(s) of any one who interview you as a connection for the future.

In the years before the job market seemed to crash, second interviews were usually a great sign. They combined an interview with an orientation of the job, having the job seeker fill out necessary employment paperwork as well as negotiating salary. Now that the amount of job seekers has increased significantly, second interviews are ways of narrowing down the pool even further. Just remember that you have stood out, and elaborate on that fact. The employer will ask, in their own way, how you stand out from the other candidates. Ensure you are able to answer this as the most qualified and best person to work for their company, and your second interview will end in success.

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An offer you can’t refuse: Negotiating your salary

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By George Bernocco, CPRW

You got the interview, nailed it and now you’re awaiting a decision from the company. Most likely the call you’re waiting for is from Human Resources offering you the position. The job you applied for may have listed the salary in the posting itself, or it was discussed by the company to you in the interview, or you have no clue what they are going to put on the table. Regardless, you want to show the employer that you are worth more but don’t want to frighten them away. Here are some ideas to help you with this difficult process:

 Interview

It is considered bad practice for you to bring up salary. The employer can bring it up and discuss it with you during the actual interview, but they must have initiated the conversation. This may catch you off guard, because if you have not done your research, you may not have an answer for them so soon. Be prepared that the employer might bring up salary, and have an answer if they do.

 Research

Do you know the average salary in the United States for your career field? How about the median salary in your state? Or even district? Labor departments, federal and state, keep records of this information. Here are a few websites that can help you:

When you have numbers to work with, you can do the math and produce a salary number that isn’t too high or too low. Just remember that average salaries factor in outliers, people who were paid abnormally high and low. Median salaries are what most people in your career field are being paid.

Another way to research how much a company pays its employees is by knowing someone who works for them. Asking an employee can prevent you and the employer from wasting each other’s time if the job isn’t financially beneficial to you. You can also get an idea of the atmosphere of the company, and see if it’s a place you would like to work.

Discussion

When you’re discussing your salary with the potential employer, you should remember the job posting. I would go as far as to say that you create a points system on the posting. Break down the posting by its requirements and preferred knowledge. Add +1 for everything in the posting you have exceeded. Put a 0 next to anything you have met the requirements or preferred knowledge. And then if it comes to it, -1 next to anything which you have not met. Just note this is for your general knowledge as to how much you should be asking for, this is not something you’d want to share in detail with the employer. You would want to highlight anything you’ve added a +1 next to. You should not necessarily discuss with the employer any -1 items as they serve as a reminder to not ask for too much since you haven’t met or exceeded all the requirements. Chances are the employer knows what your “-1’s” are and they used them to adjust your salary.

Prioritize your list with the most important towards the top. Here is an example:

Job Posting                               I Have                                    Points

5 years experience                           10 years experience                                +1

Bachelors in Science                        Masters in Science                                  +1

Basic computer skills                      Basic computer skills                               0

Expertise with MS Excel                  Basic knowledge of MS Excel                  -1

Ask the person who you are negotiating with what the salary is based on. Whatever they mention, you should be prepared to have an answer. If your education (and/or experience) exceeds the minimum requirements, and the employer states that is what the salary is based on, be prepared to remind them how you exceeded the minimum.

Knowledge

When you are armed with knowledge, you can successfully negotiate your salary without disqualifying yourself. Employers do expect new employees to negotiate, and it’s important to feel comfortable in the process. Be realistic as you should only apply for jobs that you know can earn you a profit. There may be times where the employer and you do not reach an agreement. If you cannot reach a mutual agreement with the employer, it may be for the best as you do have financial responsibilities.

Not too little, not too much: Attaching documents to your application

By George Bernocco, CPRW

paperwork

The job posting was designed to identify those who can read through and understand the job. The first part requires an ability to pay attention to detail. Words they use, required versus preferred, job description details and much more. I advise most people to go line by line, identify words the posting uses more than once.

The second part of the job posting is designed to test your ability to follow instructions. Usually the ad gives directions to those interested in applying for the position. These instructions are so important to the job application process because you must assume it is a test. If you fail to follow the instructions, your resume along with anything else you sent them will be put in a “Do Not Interview” pile. Here is how to secure yourself in the “Interview” pile:

 Always Send a Cover Letter

If the application just asks for your resume, it means your resume and cover letter. If the application states “Cover Letter Optional”, assume it is mandatory. With the vast amount of applications a company will receive, the easiest way for employers to weed out those not to interview is take out the ones who did not send a cover letter. Cover letters are standard and expected, even if the job application makes no reference to them. They are your first means of dialogue with the potential employer.

 Send Salary Requirements Only When Asked

Not all job postings require you to submit your salary requirements. If you submit them without asking, it can easily disqualify you because it is too high or even too low for the employer. When they ask, you should incorporate the salary requirements into a fourth paragraph of your cover letter. Be aware that some employers may feel the answer “Negotiable” is not a real answer to their question. If you are really unsure what to write, do your research into your field and go by the median salary in your career.

 Watch Out for Scams

Identity thieves can easily make a posting look real and request personal information. You should always be cautious about who you are sending your information to. Call the places to confirm they are an actual employer. Always be wary if they ask for your social security card and/or birth certificate in the first stages of the application process.

 Attach Anything an Online Application Asks For

Online applications within a website usually allow you to upload all different types of documents. They could be transcripts, reference letters, reference names, or certifications. The website might list some of these as optional, but your best bet is to complete the application as much as possible. The closer you are to 100% completed, the more likely they will contact you for an interview. You should try to prepare these materials ahead of time as online applications can have a time limit to complete. Do not send every document you have if the job posting does not mention them and the job application has no place to upload them. Assume you can submit this later on when they ask for it. Employers are overwhelmed with the amount of applications as it is which is why they only request certain documents at certain stages of the application process.