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Advice / Job Search / Interviewing

3 Stupid Mistakes Smart People Make in Second Interviews

Congratulations! You’ve made it past the first interview round and the hiring manager wants to bring you in again to speak with more people. It’s all happening now, right?


Yes, you’re moving on and that’s great. But the truth is that a second round isn’t a guarantee that you’re getting the job or even a top contender. And that means you still have to be on top of your game if you want to get to the end of the process with an offer letter in hand.

To put you in a better position to make that a reality, here are a few of the most common mistakes people make in second interviews—with fixes, of course.

1. You Don’t Prepare

It’s easy to assume that you can stop researching the company because you’ve made it to this stage. What else is there to know, right? The only thing you have to do in this round is continue being your delightful self. Yes to continue being your delightful self, but no to thinking you’re all set to just waltz into the office. This is definitely a scenario in which the more you know, the better.

How to Fix This

The night before each round, do a quick Google search on the company for press releases or any other updates from the past month or two. Maybe there was an exciting product release or addition to the executive team that hasn’t been included in the “About Us” section quite yet. You should also review the company’s site and social media presence—no matter how comfortable you feel. Because the more you know, the lower the odds you’ll be caught off guard. Not to mention, your new knowledge will make it easier to have a conversation and avoid the question-and-answer format.

2. You Start Making Bold Requests

I should preface this by saying that if you’re thirsty or need to use the restroom before an interview, don’t be shy about speaking up. However, I remember all too well from my recruiting days when candidates would ask for all kinds of things before an interview, like one-on-one meetings with executives or a deep dive into company information that was reserved for employees only.

One candidate even showed up three hours early and asked if she could “hang out” at the office before our scheduled meeting.

How to Fix This

Again, there are certain things you’re allowed to ask for. However, when in doubt, avoid asking for anything you don’t need. And in any case, if someone in the office turns your request down, don’t be too upset. After all, you’re still in the middle of the interview process and you’re still being judged by every single person you meet.

3. You Get a Little Too Casual in Your Conversations

At this point it may feel like you know a few employees personally—whether that’s a recruiter who keeps setting the meetings up or the hiring manager. And because of that, it’s easy to let your guard down and share details of your life that might not be the definition of “sordid,” but still aren’t the types of things you should be talking about (no matter how relaxed you think the company culture is during an interview).

How to Fix This

This might be hard, especially for those of you who are proud of being an open book (I’m right there with you). But at this stage, remind yourself that this is still an interview, not just a casual meeting with friends to discuss the latest updates on your favorite reality show.

If you have a personal anecdote that you think is relevant to one of your answers, go ahead and share it. But think twice about telling that person about how late you stayed out this weekend because of all of the expensive champagne your friends kept feeding you.

You should be so proud of yourself for making it to this point in the process. However, be mindful of the fact that it is still an interview. While you shouldn’t translate that as “Be as uptight as possible,” you also don’t want to walk in like the job is yours. Instead, be your awesome professional self and you might just get invited to come in again, or better yet, receive an offer letter.

Photo of interview courtesy of BraunS/Getty Images.