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Make the Most of Second Chance in an Interview

Make the Most of Second Chance in an Interview

Alison Green | Ask A Manager

A reader writes:

A few months ago, I interviewed for an auditor position with my local county government. The interview didn’t go all that well (I tend to get nervous and babble too much, also I was ultimately not as good a match for the position compared to other candidates) and I wound up not being selected. I was in contention for the job due to an examination I took earlier in the year. I scored well enough on the exam to be pretty high on the candidate registry, which apparently means that anytime an accounting type job is open, I am contacted for an interview.

Long story short, this office apparently has another vacancy, and I have an interview with them next week. I am thinking there is a good chance I may be interviewed again by the same people who turned me down back in the spring. If so, they of course will know that I have a good deal of advance knowledge of what they will ask (they have a standard interview with four or five questions the candidate must respond to, then usually brief period to answer candidate questions). They may not even change the questions from last time.

I am not positive, but I think this may be for the same job as before. If so, do you have any advice how to proceed? I don’t feel like I did well at all in my prior interview, and am already a little anxious that the interviewers will be the same as before and will have some kind of bias based on my prior performance. And it is not as if anything has really changed as far as my qualifications for the job, the only thing I can really do is improve how I present myself.

Well, the good news is that you did well enough last time that they’re still interested in talking to you. You’re thinking they may have a leftover bias from last time, but it’s likely just the opposite — they remembered you as potentially being good enough to fill the job, which is why you have another interview. So that right there is a good sign that will hopefully shore up your confidence.

Things that I think will help:

Think back to the last interview and try to remember everything you can — what were you asked? What kind of stumbles did you make? Were there ways in which you could have been better prepared? What do you wish you’d done differently? Take that knowledge and use it to prepare this time. Think very deliberately about how you want to come across, and then practice that — as in, sit in your living room, pretend you’re in the interview, and practice answering questions in a way that will reinforce whatever impression you want to give. For instance, you felt you babbled last time, so practice giving more concise answers. You’ll feel ridiculous, but you’ll find yourself way more prepared when you’re in the real interview.

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