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What Are the Differences Between First- & Second-Round Interviews?

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The cost of hiring, training and developing new employees is significant for most companies. To get it right the first time, organizations use a two-step interview process. Though the specifics vary by employer and job, many common differences exist between first and second interviews, including the types of questions and the interviewer himself.


When a company uses a multi-part interview process, the purpose of each stage is usually defined by the company itself. In a two-part process, the first meeting is often a basic screening, while the second is intended to lead to a hiring decision. In retail, for instance, an initial interview is often a brief screening to assess a candidate's personal qualities, availability and experience. If the manager's first impression is positive, a more thorough second interview is scheduled. After the second interview, a decision is made.


The interviewer and format often changes between the first and second interviews. In retail, the store manager might conduct the first interview and the district manager might join in for the second. In an office setting, a department manager may conduct the first interview while a senior-level manager conducts the second. Sometimes, the interview moves from a one-on-one format during the first interview to a committee format in the second interview.


The level of intensity in the interview process is ramped up with each new interview. To save time, many first interviews are often brief -- five to 15 minutes. The questions are basic, just to see whether a candidate meets the job criteria. In a second interview, the questions usually become more detailed, job-specific and challenging. A second interview might involve more behavioral questions to determine how a candidate might react to specific scenarios on the job, and why.


Preparation for a second-round interview is typically different as well. While the first interview usually involves preparing for basic questions about experience and training, second-interview candidates need to prepare to add examples and tell stories that showcase their skills and abilities in a way that benefits the organization. Additionally, you want to come with a list of references and some questions to ask at the end of the interview. The hiring manager normally outlines what happens next after the interview. In some cases, a third interview is needed. Often, though, the hiring manager explains the decision process and when the candidate can expect a call.


Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.

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