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Ace the Second Interview...and the Third

By Tory Johnson, CEO of Women for Hire

At many organizations the next step after a successful interview is more interviews. You should always be prepared to go back to the company for an encore.

Some companies start with a phone screening and then move to face-to-face interaction. Other companies start with an HR behavioral interview and then move on to an interview with the manager you'd be reporting to, then invite you in for testing. Still others require several interviews with several members of the team you'll be working with. It's perfectly all right to ask during your first interview what to expect, but often the process will change depending on the level of job you're looking for and the number of candidates the company is considering.

Second interviews (and any interviews beyond that) should be treated with as much professionalism as the first meeting. At this point you know they're interested, but you have a few more runs around the bend before reaching that finish line. A huge mistake job seekers make is thinking the second interview is just a formality. You don't have the job yet. Follow these tips to make sure you're in top form 'til the very, very end:

  •     Dress formally for every interview, even if the company is casual.
  •     Get business cards from everyone you meet with at every interview, and send personalized thank-you notes or emails to each person, even if you've met with them before. This will really set you apart from the crowd.
  •     Before each additional interview, review your notes from your first meeting. Make reference to issues you discussed to show your great listening and follow-through skills.
  •     Review the interview questions you prepared before the first interview. Just because you weren't asked about something in the first meeting doesn't mean it won't come up later on.
  •     Never show fatigue at the process or criticize an interviewer for asking the same question in multiple meetings. "I already told you that!" is not an acceptable response.
  •     Keep up the positive energy at every meeting. Don't let your guard down--be as fresh at interview 27 as you were the first time you walked through the door. An enduring positive attitude will really set you apart from other candidates.
And remember: the best interviews in the world can be ruined by ineffective follow up. Polite persistence is the key to moving forward and crossing the finish line.

Tory Johnson is the CEO of Women For Hire and the Workplace Contributor on ABC's Good Morning America.  Connect with her at

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