By Ludmila Leiva

Refinery 29, May 7, 2019.

Today’s job search process can be daunting. Whether it’s creating a resume that will stand out from the crowd, preparing to ace a preliminary phone interview, figuring out how to wow a hiring manager in a second- or third-round interview, or negotiating an offer, unique challenges come with each step of the process.

Though every part of the job search process is important, second round interviews usually mean coming face-to-face with a hiring manager for the first time (whether that’s in real life or on video chat). With this comes immense opportunity — and increased stakes — so it’s important to make sure you’re prepared to take full advantage of an in-person meeting with a potential future boss.

Cynthia Pong

To get all the necessary details on how to ace a second-round job interview, we chatted with Cynthia Pong of Embrace Change, a lawyer-turned-career coach specializing in working with women of color.

Ahead, Pong outlines four important things to keep in mind in order to take full advantage of that second job interview.

1. Find out (and research) who you are meeting with.

Hopefully, this point goes without saying, but it bears repeating nonetheless: Make sure you know exactly who you will be meeting with for your interview and do your research.

Though you’ll likely want to use the interview to ask them about their role and experiences at the company, you want to go into the interview with some basic knowledge about who you will be speaking with, says Pong. This includes familiarizing yourself with projects or initiatives this person might have led, some of their accomplishments or accolades, and anything else that will demonstrate that you’ve done your homework.

“Knowing this stuff also can give you a sense of how to present yourself, including what kinds of things that person might be interested in asking you,” Pong adds.

2. Practice answering questions you might expect to be asked.

Like any interview, you should be prepared to answer job interview questions that are relevant for the role. This might include brushing up on some best practices for responding to behavioral interview questions, and how to field the dreaded “So why should we hire you?” question.

“For some people, this might mean writing answers out word for word, for others it’s bullet points or talking through with someone and getting feedback on how you’re sounding,” Pong says. No matter how you choose to prepare, make sure you’re able to speak eloquently and confidently about yourself and why you’re interested in the type of work, organization, and specific role.

Speak eloquently and confidently about yourself.

3. Make sure you have some questions to ask your interviewer.

In addition to preparing to answer questions, you should also prepare to ask them. Pong recommends preparing at least three open-ended questions that can kick off conversation. “Ideally, your interviewer should be talking for at least 50% of the interview,” Pong says. “See if you can get them to tell you things that will be helpful for you.

“Pong recommends questions like: 
“What brought you to this work or organization?” 
“What are some of the challenges the organization or department is facing right now?”
“What does it take to be successful in this company?

”From there, you can let the conversation flow and see where the it takes you.”If you know who you’re going to be talking to that can help you tailor your questions, too,” Pong adds, noting that the types of questions you ask have the power to demonstrate how much you’ve read up on the person.

4. Use the interview to gather intel on the job and company.

More than anything, Pong says it’s important to remember that interviews are just as much an opportunity to gather information about potential bosses, colleagues, and organizations as they are about proving yourself to be a worthy candidate.

“Emotional intelligence can be very helpful in second interviews,” Pong says, adding that it’s important to be able to read the vibe in a room, which includes noticing if a hiring manager seems hesitant or reluctant to talk about certain topics as well as paying close attention to body language.

“Remember that interviews should be a two-way street. Assessing the dynamic can help you take stock of the work environment you might considering be going into.

“Though Pong recommends always bringing a notebook with you in case you need to write down something important, she says the best practice is to be present in the moment. “Afterwards, duck into a store and write down what you learned and what your initial reactions were before you forget,” Pong says, adding that these details can also be great to include in your follow-up email or thank you note.

Ultimately, job interviews are something that most of us will have to deal with throughout the course of our lives. Learning how to navigate them and being smart about how you ask and answer questions will set you up for success and help to increase your odds of getting an offer (that is, if you want the job).