How to Excel After the First Interview

How to Excel After the First Interview - Style Nine to Five

Congratulations—you’ve made it past the first interview! Take a deep breath and give yourself a big pat on the back. Making it through the first round is something to be so proud of. That said, if you want to be the successful applicant at the end, your work isn’t over yet.

Just like your initial job application and first interview, what comes next will also require lots of preparation, communication, and research. This work begins the moment your first interview ends. Here are a few tips for how to put yourself in the best position to succeed.

Reflect on your first interview

After your interview, take a few minutes to jot down as much as you can remember. What questions did they ask you? Did they express interest in any particular area of your resume? How did they react to your responses?

Depending on how your interview went, you might find yourself reliving all the good things that happened, or you might find yourself focusing on everything that went wrong. Either way, make sure to take time to focus on both the positive and the negatives. This will help you identify what you want to improve for next time. Did you get distracted telling a story? Were you stumped trying to come up with an example when they asked you a question about your experience? Did you talk too fast?

Reflecting on the whole first interview experience will help set you off on the right foot for how to move forward. These notes will also help you when preparing for your next interview. Read on below to see how!

Send a follow-up email

Following your initial interview, you’ll want to email the hiring committee to say thank you. Don’t wait too many days before sending your thank you—this can be sent on the day of your first interview (ideally a few hours after) or the following day. Once you’re in the interview stage, the hiring process can proceed quite quickly. You want your thank you email to hit their inboxes before they decide whether to move forward with you. If they’re on the fence about you, a well-timed thank you could make a big difference!

When writing your follow-up email, make sure to express your deepest appreciation for their time and consideration. This is also a great opportunity to share any examples of your work and to tell them how interested you are in the position.

Prepare for the second interview

You’ve made it to the second round! Your excellent first interview and follow-up email have worked their magic. You’re almost at the finish line, so it’s time to step on the gas and go for gold.

When you’re discussing the next steps during your initial interview, or when you’re confirming your second interview, the hiring manager will likely provide the names of who you’ll be meeting with next, and if not, ask! This might include a mix of people from your first interview and new faces, or it might be a completely new group. The second interview is a chance for more of your potential colleagues to meet and get to know you. With that in mind, it’s time for you to do some research on them before you meet.

In the age of the internet, research has never been easier. Take a few minutes to Google each of the people you’re going to meet with. Chances are that their LinkedIn profile will come up along with any company web pages that their names are on or even news articles they’ve been featured in. The goal here isn’t to go down a social media rabbit hole, but to figure out who you’ll be interviewing with, what role they hold in the company, and if you can find it, what types of projects they work on at the company.

For example, if you Google my name you’ll find my LinkedIn profile and a page from my employer’s website. From this simple search, you can figure out what my job responsibilities are. When you’re going the extra mile, this matters because you want to be prepared to impress the people you’re interviewing. With your new knowledge about the hiring panel, you can tailor your responses to context they’ll understand. You can also show that you’ve done your homework by complimenting them on recent successes they’ve had.

This strategy also applies for the company as a whole, not just for individuals. Go deeper in your research of the company to find recent announcements, projects, or activities the company has worked on and tie those into your interview question responses.

For example, if you have experience coordinating large events and you’re interviewing with lululemon, you might describe your experience in relation to a large event they run every year: “In my previous role, I was part of a team that helped coordinate a conference for about 10,000 attendees, which is similar in size to your Seawheeze Half Marathon.” In just one sentence you’ve demonstrated your experience, the scale of your experience, transferable skills, and have shown that you know and understand their company. Overall, these details tell the interviewers that you’re invested in the opportunity you’re interviewing for.

When preparing for your second interview, you’ll also want to return to the notes you took after your first interview. If they didn’t ask you some of the most common first interview questions, it’s likely they’ll be asking those at the second interview. Here are a few examples of questions you might be asked in your second interview:

Questions about cultural fit:

• What are your top 5 attributes?

• What are your weaknesses?

• What kind of work environment do you thrive in?

Questions about your work ethic:

• If you were the successful applicant, what would you do in the first week or month of being in the position?

• What is an achievement in your career that you’re proud of?

• Why are you leaving your current job?

• Why should we hire you?

Just like your first interview, you’ll want to bring your own questions to ask at the second interview as well. Don’t bring the same questions from before. This is your chance to deepen your understanding about their company and show authentic interest in their work.

Prepare Mentally

You’ve locked in your second interview, you’ve spent time preparing for it—researching, practicing questions, and consulting your friends and family. There is no doubt that the hiring process can be grueling. It can also be incredibly rewarding if you know how to set yourself up for success. Although you’ll be eager to prepare and study as much as you can, make sure to take time to prepare mentally too.

The night before your interview, put down your notes and stop practicing. Figure out your plan for the next day so you won’t need to stress on the day of. Plan out what you’re wearing and how you’ll set up your video call (or how you’ll commute to the location). Then, take time to relax in a way that works for you, whether that’s going for a run, taking a bath, or laying on the couch watching TV. There are countless studies on the importance of sleep, relaxation, and exercise on your physical health, but also for work productivity and performance.

If you want to arrive at this interview at your absolute best, it means taking time to not focus on the interview. This is easier said than done, but do your best to distract yourself the night before you interview, get enough sleep, and you’ll arrive ready.

Anyone can excel after the first interview with the right tips in their toolkit, and you can too. Don’t let your dream opportunity pass you by because you were too passive following your first interview. You have the power to excel into bigger and better opportunities. All you have to do is put your mind to it!

Have a specific question about how to excel after a first interview? Try the Ask 1 Career Question service and get the expertise of Style Nine to Five’s founder, Christie Lohr. All proceeds directly support an education fund to send a Style Nine to Five follower back to school to further their career.

By: Catherine Gautreau – Catherine is a communications and fundraising professional in Vancouver, BC with a passion for storytelling, the arts, and giving back to the community.

Feature Image: Adobe Stock