And then you get to the actual interview. Most likely there is someone new whom you didn't meet the first time around. There can even be a few new people in the room. And any one of them might not take to you with open arms. Or at least give no clues as to how they really feel about you.
And you walk away with a feeling that you didn't do well. You start to second-guess your answers and the way the interviewer(s) reacted.
So did your interview really go badly?
Before you start getting down on yourself – or the company – don't assume anything. It's too early. Something I've learned after many years of being an interviewer and being interviewed is that it's not always obvious how well or badly you did.
You can actually walk out of a room thinking you blew the interview, and get told they want you to go to the next step. And you can walk out thinking you did GREAT, and find out they decided to go with someone else. It really isn't easy to be sure in many cases.
So please take a moment to acknowledge that it's perfectly natural to feel frustration and even a little depressed. And let's look at what actually happened in your interview. And what you can do.
First, you might want to review this general article on how to tell how an interview went:
What are they looking for at this point of the process?
Let's look at how this second round went. After the initial "do we think you're a possible fit" interview, the hiring team starts to zero in on your actual ability to do the job. But even more so, they want to see if they think you'd be a good fit with the company culture and/or team you'd be working with.
Interviewers can get a little more serious during second interviews. And so the room may not feel as friendly as it did the first time. Or you may get an interviewer or two who just like to bust your chops a bit, to see how you react when things get tough – as they will in any real job.
What they are looking to see is whether you listen carefully, seem to be showing your real self, and if you will be a good match based on all they know about the job. I know it's hard to think about this, but even if you're the nicest, most-qualified-on-paper candidate … if it's a bad fit, it won't work for either side. So it's good for you to know this too.
Some signs you might be wondering about
One of the hardest things about trying to stay in the moment and listen and respond naturally – as you should for any interview – is that you can't help looking for signs!
If the interview was cut short and you didn't get much eye contact or much of a chance to answer questions, then yes … that could be a bad sign. Still there may be something else going on…
And what about the way they end the interview. The look they give you. The firmness of the handshake. The words they use at the end when wrapping up the interview. Did they seem pleasant enough and yet somehow the ending doesn't feel quite right…
Dealing with how the interview actually went
But there are times, of course, when a second interview just doesn't work. Even from your end. And that's important for you to be able to recognize. And be able to move on from, so that you get to a job that is right for you!
Luckily there are still some things you can do to perhaps save the day – or at least keep the connection alive for another day. What to do if an interview didn't go well:
Just remember … each interview, even the ones that go wrong, are getting you closer to the job you want. Don't let a bad interview – or more than one of them – keep you from your determination to get to the job you deserve!
Some more posts to help while waiting to find out: