Second Guessing Second Interview Questions

by Pranav Ramesh
April 06, 2021
List of second round interview questions and answers

Second interviews are an important step in the interview process. Unless you are applying for a high-level management role, chances are your second interview will determine whether or not you get the job. Though second interviews are crucial, with a little bit of prep, you should be able to tackle them with confidence. (If you are not quite here yet, and want to know more about the initial stages of the interview process, why not check out our article on informal interviews).

In this article, we will help you to prep right by looking into some of the most commonly asked second interview questions, along with their answers. (Be advised the sample answers provided in this article are not industry-specific and are at best, designed to help you come up with an answer).

Topics covered

  • Why do you want this job?
  • What relevant experience do you have?
  • What are your career goals over the next five years?
  • What are your salary expectations?

“Why do you want this job?”

One of the most routinely asked second interview questions, it is meant to gauge your interest in the position on offer and the company in general. It is also an opportunity for the interviewers to gauge your understanding of the role and your expectations from the job, and whether your values align with your potential employers.

How to Answer: This would be a good time for you to talk about your passion for the role and your reason(s) for opting to interview with the organization. You can mention your ideas for the role in question, your eagerness to work with specific clients, or the ways in which the company’s goals align with your own. Do not respond by saying that you want the job for the salary. Though your salary expectation is an important part of the interview process, this is not the time to bring it up. This conversation is purely about expressing your interest in, and expectations from, the role and the company.

Sample Answer: “This job will give me the opportunity of working on XYZ project/ with XYZ client, which has always been a dream of mine. It will allow me to build on my skills in XYZ area. Having researched your organization, I am confident that we share an understanding about the realities of our industry today, and hope to achieve the same goals in the future.”

“What relevant experience do you have?”

Though your previous work experience would have been detailed in your resume, interviewers might like to hear about specific aspects of your career in greater detail. They might want to know more about your previous performance in a particular role, or challenges you have overcome in the past. This second interview question is also an invitation for you to market yourself. What sets you apart from your peers? What unique perspectives have you gained from your past, working in such roles?

How to Answer: It is important while answering such questions, to communicate clearly and concisely. Keep your answer short and to the point. Rambling soliloquies about the highs and lows of your professional life will be a turn-off. Also, make sure you are thoroughly prepared to answer questions based on your own resume, and that you have a few highlights ready to share from all your previous roles. If you are not confident in your own resume, interviewers are not likely to feel very confident about you. Not to mention, appearing unfamiliar with your own work history can be taken as a red flag, indicating potential falsehoods.

Sample Answer: “I have over X years’ experience working in this field. In my last job, I held XYZ position, and my responsibilities included (list the responsibilities that are relevant to the current job). I have also previously worked as XYZ, and the challenges I faced in this role have helped me prepare for the challenges I am likely to face while working for your organization.”

“What are your career goals over the next five years?”

This question, also occasionally presented as “Where do you see yourself in the next three/five/ten years?” has been a staple of second interviews for a long time now. What the interviewers really want to know here is if you are willing to commit to your new role and whether your long-term goals are in line with the company’s vision.

How to Answer: Let’s quickly go through some answers that the interviewer definitely does not want to hear. Do not be obnoxious and reply with cliched responses like, “Doing your job” or “Sitting on the other side of this table”. Such answers are not only cringeworthy, they are also implausible and tell the interviewer very little about your actual goals. Detailed plans about your progress within the organization or vague dreams of fame and fortune are also inadvisable.

Instead, make sure to plan your answers and make them realistic. If you are somebody with a clear vision for your future and firmly settled on a career path, then you can talk about your long-term career goals, and try to express them in alignment with the company’s expectations.

If, on the other hand, you are still figuring out your goals and career path, then you might want to emphasize more on your willingness to commit to the role and explore opportunities within the organization. Giving vague answers in an interview is not recommended but it is still preferable to hemming and hawing, or an awkward, “I don’t know”.

Sample Answer: “I want to continue growing within this industry. I hope to be able to see real growth in my abilities within the next year and achieve XYZ goals within the next five years. I see a long-term future for myself at your organization and will work to be on track for XYZ position in the next five years.”

“What are your salary expectations?”

Questions about salary are awkward in most social situations. However, within the professional environment of a job interview, this question is commonplace and interviewers appreciate candidates who have a good idea of their salary expectations. That being said, determining salary expectations can be tricky. On the one hand, you do not want to go too low and end up feeling unhappy with your compensation. On the other, you do not want to go too high and put off the interviewer as a result.

How to Answer: It is recommended that you do a little bit of research beforehand and determines the current median salary for your role (LinkedIn is your friend for such information, so are employment portals such as Glassdoor, Indeed, etc.). If you have an understanding of the average pay for your role or even a pay range, you will be able to set realistic expectations. You could also ask the interviewer about the pay range they have set for the role. If you are moving from one company to another, while still in the same role, you can use your previous salary to determine what your new pay should be.

To better understand how to answer questions about salary expectations, check out our previous article—How to Answer the Question, “What Are Your Salary Expectations?”

Sample answer: “In my previous role, I was earning XYZ amount per annum. Therefore, I expect to earn around $XYZ for this role. Given my experience and achievements, I feel this is a fair amount but we can negotiate further.”


“Having researched the position, and the industry averages, it is my understanding that a person performing XYZ role can typically expect to earn between $ABC- $XYZ. With my X years of experience in this role, I would expect to earn $X at your organization. However, I am willing to be flexible with my expectations and we can discuss this further.”


Second interviews can be daunting, no doubt about it. But with the guidance of these tips and answer keys, you will be able to architect a robust prep strategy for all your upcoming interviews. Don’t forget, if you have made it as far as the second interview, that means you are already better than the majority of candidates who have applied for the role. While this is not a reason to go in unprepared, know that your resume has caught the interviewer’s eye and that they are thinking of you as a potential candidate already. Now you just need to go out there and prove it to them.

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