The Problem with the 2nd interview – Why do they sometimes go wrong?

IT recruitment jobIn the world of IT recruitment, we all too often we have to deliver bad news.  “I’m sorry but you didn’t get the job this time”.  It’s the worst part of being a recruitment consultant.  Especially when the candidate (who is no longer just a candidate, but someone we’ve got to know and understand) really wanted that IT job.

But the thing is, all too often it’s for a really stupid reason.  And so whilst coaching a candidate today I decided that I would share this with information with you too in the hope it might just help you out.

There are 2 types of second interviews.  There are those that come from whittling down the numbers.  A lot of our larger clients may see a number of candidates and have thorough procedures which require a greater number of 2nd interview attendees.    They may well go on to a third stage.

But I am referring to the other sort.  The one where you’ve nailed the first interview and have been invited back to meet the rest of the team, or to discuss the finer parts of the job.   Where really you are expected to finish what you started and walk away with an offer.    So this might not actually be on the 2nd interview, so let’s call it the Final interview – whatever number that may be.

Well a lot of the time this final interview goes very well and congratulations, you’ve got yourself a shiny new job!  Wohoo!

But this is not always the case.   And when studying feedback from 2nd interviews that haven’t gone quite so well, there are some alarming truths.

You see, you’re a good candidate – you showed that on the first interview.  You had the skills, looked the part and impressed them enough for you to have become a serious contender.

So what went wrong the next time around?  These are genuine statements from failed final interviews over the last year.

  • It was like we saw a different person. (we hear this a lot!)
  • He turned up looking scruffy – his suit was a mess and his tie wasn’t done up properly. Not at all like he was on the first interview.
  • He carried a novel in his hand.
  • There was a lack of preparation
  • She was far too laid back.

BASICS!!  That’s where people seem to go wrong.  It’s very rare that actually, we found he wasn’t technical enough suddenly.  (ok unless the second stage was a technical assessment).   But in most final interviews that go wrong it’s the basics!

Now you may well read this and think – well of course these are silly mistakes that I would never make.  Good!

But I am done with taking this stuff for granted!!

Now let’s be clear, we are talking about a relatively small percentage of final interview candidates here.  But enough for me to want to sort this out.   So why do smart people make such silly mistakes?

IT job interviewThere can be a tendency to be over confident.  The jobs in the bag.  And suddenly, you don’t have to impress quite so much.  You relax a little too much.    But the truth is, that in the 2nd interview it is even more important that you nail than first impression you made previously.  Hiring someone new is a big decision for companies and carries financial risks, worry and getting it wrong can seriously unsettle the existing team.  So the decision maker is looking for you to totally vindicate their decision to take a chance on you.

So, it is your job to make that happen. 

  • Look even sharper second time around
  • Bring a little more knowledge gleamed from their website or social media updates.
  • Check out the industry news to have something new to discuss and impress them with.
  • Re-read your CV – make sure you know your dates, your qualifications etc.
  • Be in reception 10 minutes early – phone off.


But when coaching senior candidates and highly qualified professionals on what to and what not to do on interview, you can’t really bring up the fact that they should wear a suit!  Patronising candidates is not the way to go.  And yet these mistakes keep happening.

So how do we as recruiters get this very basic and common sense message across to people who would never make these types of mistakes – until of course they do?   Well, it’s simple you write a blog. And if you’re the person that wouldn’t make that kind of mistake, then it wasn’t for you anyway 😉


For further information on the interview process and how to best prepare for an IT job interview, please follow this link.


2023-11-24T08:54:39+00:00 April 20th, 2022|Tags: , , , , , |

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