Why are there 2 stages to the interview process?
Generally speaking, the interview process for a role will have been specified as soon as a role becomes available. More often than not, an employer will want to see that candidates perform consistently. Furthermore, the first stage interview is generally conducted by an HR representative and/or department supervisor. This interview will usually aim to verify that candidates match their CVs. It can also be the case that, if a role has a high volume of good quality applicants, a 2 stage interview process will be adopted in order to narrow down the shortlist.
However, in my experience of taking candidate feedback after interviews, it is not always the case that the first stage is a box ticking exercise. Some companies will conduct a full, 1 – 1 hour and a half, competency-based interview. Others will conduct a half hour ‘get to know you’ type interview where they will assess your personality and team fit.
The duration of the interview is a good way to gauge what type of interview you should expect. If the duration has not been specified, do ask how long you should allow for the interview.
If your first stage is a full competency based interview, please refer to for tips on how to prepare: Competency Based Interviews
If it is the shorter kind, it will most likely be a paired back form of competency interview. Here you can expect questions such as:
What do you know about the company?
What do you think the purpose of this role is?
Tell me/us about yourself?
Why did you leave your last job/why do you want to leave your jobs?
What do you do to relax/how do you handle stress?
What is your salary expectation?
Do work some examples of your relevant experience into this type of interview. You will want to keep your answers as concise as you can. Ideally, you are looking to build rapport with the interviewer/s so that you stand out for the right reasons.
Tip: Sometimes, interviewers will adopt a very casual interview style. It feels more like a conversation with a friend. But be careful of conversational interviews (A.K.A. Unstructured interviews). These feel very natural, which is good if it is a ‘get to know you’ interview and will allow the interviewer to see who you are. But, if you find yourself in this type of interview, do not forget to relate your relevant experience and maintain your professionalism too – you’re still in an interview!
What will the 2nd interview be like?
With most of our clients, the common denominator between 2nd stage interviews is that they are held by a senior member of staff. Or, the senior member of staff will be on a panel. This senior member is usually connected to the department your role sits in or will be working closely with the role for which you have applied.
For this reason, 2nd stage interviews often feel more intense than the first stage. Furthermore, if your first stage was a competency type interview, the likelihood is that you will be asked to prepare something for the 2nd stage. This might be a presentation, a report or recommendations depending on the role. If you haven’t already done so if the first stage, the 2nd stage is the time to start demonstrating how you can add value to the business.
However, what is certain is that the 2nd stage is your opportunity to show why you, out of any of the candidates, are the right person for the role.
As you are probably aware, if you have been invited to a 2nd stage interview, then the employer is seriously considering you for the role. It means that is terms of fit, competency, and skill, they could see you doing the job.