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Getting to third base — converting a second stage interview into an offer

So you’ve made it past round one and now you’ve been asked back for a second, in-house interview. It’s not, and never will be, plain sailing from this point but you are one step closer to securing that internship offer. Here are some tips on what to do, and not do, from this point that should help you seal the deal.


Before Your Interview

Your behavior will be evaluated long before your walk into the door. Don’t make the inaccurate assumption that a scheduling coordinator or administrative person doesn’t have a vote on your candidacy, because they very well might.  
Email correspondence during this time is a great way for the firm to evaluate your level of professionalism.  Do you respond in a timely manner?  Are you able to carry a conversation on the phone?  Are you flexible with interview and travel dates?  Someday you might be talking on the phone with the firm’s clients and scheduled out on jobs. The firms want to know that you have the ability to carry a cordial conversation and that you aren’t going to be high maintenance when it comes to scheduling.   

Email is also a great way to evaluate your written communication skills.   If you use text message language in your correspondence, the firm may be more apt to TTYL than to extend you an offer.  This abbreviated language does not fly in correspondence with clients and firm leaders, nor is it acceptable in work paper documentation.  Don’t underestimate the value of a well-written email message during your interview process.


Research what will be expected of you

The format of second round interviews varies based on firm size and culture.  For example, the Big Four round up large numbers of candidates and bring them in all at once, while a smaller firm might only bring in one candidate per day.  You can improve your likelihood of successfully impressing those you will meet by knowing what to expect.  Otherwise, you might show up looking like a deer in the headlights instead of a top-notch candidate.

Are you prepared to schmooze your way around a large-scale breakfast/networking event? Do you know how to manage the dynamics of a group interview with three people sitting across from you? What do you know about dining etiquette for an interview conducted during a meal?

You can, and should, ask the firm representative what to expect. You might also know someone who recently went through the process, such as colleagues from school or associates who recently started with the firm. Use any contacts you have to get prepared and know what to expect on the day.  


Bring your A game 

When you think about an interview, you are probably well aware of the fear gremlins.  They show up as the voices inside your mind that are telling you that you aren’t smart enough, you won’t have the right answers, and they are quick to point out your errors.  If only you did or said something differently, you would have got the offer.  

In contrast, your essence is a state of being that exudes an aura of calm, cool and collectedness.  It is about being confident but not cocky.  It is evoking a sense of trustworthiness.  And most importantly, your essence is magnetic.  Firms hire people they want to be around and don’t hire people that have awkward interpersonal skills. They won’t be impressed if they feel you won’t be able to appear calm and in control of your own bodily functions in front of their clients.  

Being in your essence can be as simple as having awareness of how you act and from there being intentional about who you want to show up as when you interview.  Get some altitude on your life by reflecting on a time when you performed at your highest level.  What did it look like?  Did you charm people with your humor?  Did you impress others with a curiosity to learn more?  What do you look like when you are on top of your game?  If you can see how you did it before, you will have both the confidence to do it again and a game plan for showing up as a person that attracts offers.

So there you have it, second interviews are a lot about understanding whether in reality you and the firm are a good fit for each other. Bit like a second date really. You know that there’s some kind of attraction between you but now it’s time to explore how well you fit together in reality. There’s no getting away from it, you’re being assessed and judged all the time and not just during the hour or so that you are actually in the interview room. Don’t mess it up with lazy or careless communication before or after the event, and don’t underestimate the importance of impressing everyone you meet along the way. Oh and one last point, questions. Don’t forget the questions people. It can literally be make or break, so fail to prepare properly for this part of the interview at your own peril.

Check out more career and interview advice on Going Concern Jobs