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The Second Interview

You are invited to visit an employer’s office if you have successfully completed all preliminary screening phases of your first interview. This is your second opportunity to market your skills and potential to the management team. The second interview will be more in-depth than the first, and you will be expected to research the employer more thoroughly. After you know what is expected of you, you can make the most of this important, yet anxiety-producing, situation. The best way to relax is to be prepared. 

Remember that the selection process is narrowing and the company is trying to impress you too. Usually your visit will begin with the director of human resources in the morning. You will probably be given a tour and be introduced to at least one senior officer of the company, the person who would be your immediate supervisor, and some of your future colleagues. During lunch you will continue visiting with some of these people, often in the company dining room. The director of human resources usually acts as the master or mistress of ceremonies for the day and will be the last person you see, often in his/her office during a wind-up chat. 

The visit or interview will last for most of the workday, unless long travel is involved. Most visits do not last two days. 

Making Arrangements 

All plant or office visits begin with an invitation, usually in the form of a letter. 

This is the basic information you will need: 

  • The name, title, business address, and phone number of the trip coordinator. 
  • Details of the travel and hotel arrangements (dates, times, locations, etc.) and the name and phone number of the person handling them. If you are flying and are not met at the airport by an employer representative, do not be alarmed. It is often your responsibility to find your way around and appear on time for your first appointment, although the employer usually makes hotel accommodations for you and may also arrange your flight. 
  • Where you are supposed to be, when you should be there, and who you should ask to see on your arrival. 
  • How to get to where you are supposed to be and whether or not you have the proper documents. (You may need an area map, airline tickets, auto rental and/or hotel reservation slip, etc.) 
  • How everything on the trip is being paid for, whether it is all pre-paid, or how you will be reimbursed for any cash outlays of your own. Remember: They invited you so you are entitled to this information. 

Preparing for the Interview 

To be prepared you will want to: 

  • Review your research of the company. Read everything you can about the organization, including annual reports, brochures, and articles. Research will enable you to understand the company’s perspective and become familiar with key issues faced by the employer. Refresh your memory of who you met during your first interview and the details of the job from your former interview. It may be helpful to talk with friends or contacts employed by the organization. 
  • Go over your interviewing skills again. Take copies of your resume with you. Bring your transcript and list of references. If they ask you for them and you have them available, you will impress your interviewers with your planning and organization. 
  • Take a portfolio of any work you have done related to the job.
  • For info on what to wear and how to pack, check out Dressing for Site Visits.


In addition to taking an entire day, the second interview may include pre-employment testing. Some hiring organizations use written tests while others simulate on-the-job situations in order to assess your decision-making abilities. Interviews also test your poise, stamina, enthusiasm, and knowledge. Keep the following suggestions in mind during your visit/tour of the office/plant: 

  • You are expected to dress professionally unless the company tells you otherwise. The dress guidelines for on-campus interviews also apply to office tours. 
  • You are being interviewed by everyone you meet during your visit. All of them, including support staff, will be giving feedback into the hiring decision. Maintain your professionalism and be yourself. 
  • Do not smoke while at the facility or in the presence of company employees. Ordering alcoholic beverages at a business lunch or dinner is a complicated issue. Company dining rooms are usually nonalcoholic. As a rule, it is considered appropriate for you to ask for something other than alcohol. 
  • Be aware of your table manners. Companies look for social skills as well as skills needed for the job, especially if the job entails contact with the organization’s customers. 
  • Try avoiding controversial subjects (politics and religion) when making "small talk" with the interviewers. You can never tell whether your stated position on a topic can help or hurt your chances for a job offer. 
  • When asking a question, include references to facts you have already learned (if appropriate) to show that you have a grasp of the subject and have done your research. Inquire about the advantages of the position and reasons the interviewer enjoys working at the organization. If you can get the interviewer to promote the position to you, you will establish yourself favorably in his or her mind. 

What to Look For 

Be aware of the attitudes of each employee you meet. Ask yourself these questions: 

  • Do people seem happy? Tense? Overworked? Challenged? Bored? 
  • Do they honestly seem glad to meet you? Are they genuinely enthusiastic about the company and their jobs? Do you like them? The facility? The management style? 
  • Be aware of the physical surroundings. You are also interviewing the employer to find out if this company has the sort of environment in which you would like to work. 
  • Are your questions being answered honestly (as far as you can determine)? Or avoided? Are you receiving conflicting responses? 

Expenses–The Third Impression 

A site visit is your second chance to impress an employer but not your last. Your third chance will be the expense report you submit to the employer. Make this third impression a good one by doing the following: 

  • Only seek reimbursement for the actual expenses of your trip. Do not include entertainment or personal expenditures. Pro-rate your expenses among all organizations if you visit more than one on a trip. Reimbursement policies vary. Some employers return an applicant’s funds the same day, while others take several weeks to mail a check. Each candidate should have funds on hand for recruiting expenses. 
  • Obtain receipts for hotel and travel costs. They are normally required before reimbursement can be made. 
  • Select the most convenient means of transportation with the employer’s authorization. If you drive a car to the plant trip, show your complete route and round trip mileage–include airport limousine service, buses, local or suburban trains, and taxis. 
  • Conserve on meal expenditures. How you spend an employer’s funds on a site visit is a good indication of how you might spend those funds as an employee. Costs should cover meals with tax and tips and be listed on a daily basis. Some employers have no set limits but rely on your good judgment. Although geographic location will cause figures to vary, these maximum expenditures should serve as a general guideline: Breakfast $6.00 Lunch $10.00 Dinner $20.00 The following items are not considered normal business expenses: 
  • Entertainment, tours, cigarettes, magazines, etc. 
  • Insurance, interest on loans, or excessive tips (should not exceed 15 % of the food bill). 
  • Personal phone calls, except in emergencies or for recruitment business. 
  • Staying at hotels in places other than the city being visited, except as may be required by the transportation schedule. 
  • Valet expenses, except under special circumstances such as when a one-day interview schedule was originally arranged and the company asks the applicant to stay for an additional day or two. 
  • Expenses for persons other than the individual invited except when the company authorizes expenses for the applicant’s spouse.