Securing a Second Interview
Depending on the company structure, it can often be the case that rather than a hiring decision, the next step after a first interview is a second interview. In fact, there are very few companies that simply rely on the opinion of one person to make a hiring decision. In many companies, the first interview is with a human resources or personnel professional who then makes a judgment of the candidate's suitability and passes this information on to the head of the department that is hiring.
The purpose of the first interview is to narrow down the number of candidates that the company will then seriously consider. That is why your goal for the first interview is to stand out and be remembered. When going back for later interviews, the strategy involved is a bit different.
What to Expect
By making it through the first interview, a candidate has proven that he has several strengths that could benefit the company. That said, the purpose of second interviews and beyond will be to find out about your weaknesses and other limitations. Your goal in second interviews and beyond, therefore, should be to present yourself as a well-balanced candidate.
In prepping for it, you should carefully review the notes you made after the interview. Identify all the points you made that seemed to make a positive impression on your interviewer. Pay particular attention to the anecdotes you told. You may repeat one or two, but you should come with some fresh success stories for this second interview.
Preparing for the Second Interview
You may find it helpful to find out who your competition is. If you used a third-party recruiter, the first place to go for information is to her. First, thank her for sending you, then ask her if she would tell you what qualities in the other candidates the company liked.
A good recruiter will give you honest feedback about your interview performance. Ask for it if she doesn't volunteer it, and don't get defensive if it is negative. Learn from it! If she says she didn't send any other candidates, you know you are competing with candidates from other recruiters.
For most professional positions, you will have two separate interviews before a decision is made. For higher-level, executive positions, three interviews are common. Some companies are even well-known for conducting no fewer than six interviews with a candidate before making a decision. You will be interviewing with several people who are only in a position to reject your hiring—not push it forward (examples of these types of people include heads of other departments).
To win that job offer, you must focus on dispelling any doubts the interviewer may have about you and building a strong rapport with each one. Though this could seem like a rather nerve-racking experience, remember that with each subsequent interview, you are proving yourself a more valuable candidate, and the competition is shrinking. You should begin to feel more relaxed and comfortable as you return for further interviews.
Also, keep in mind that these interactions provide you with an opportunity to learn more about the company, the people you may be working with, and the culture. You are in the position of making a very important decision about your future, just as the company is; the more information you can obtain the better!