Help me nail a second round interview!
November 5, 2012 10:37 AM   Subscribe

They're flying me in for a second round interview! Help me nail it!

I've been asked to do a second round interview for an engineering position this week. I'm very excited, but I've never done an all day interview before, and this one also includes a dinner the night before (they have 7 hours scheduled, though that includes lunch and a tour of the factory). I know the basics for a first round interview (emphasize your accomplishments, be personable and calm, etc), but how does that apply to something like this? What should I be expecting, and what do I need to have prepared?

Quick side note about clothes. I'm a guy. I'm wearing a suit to the interview day, but the dinner the night before is business casual. I was planning on wearing a button down shirt, no tie, brown sport coat/blazer, dark slacks, and black shoes. Is that fine for the midwest? I'm also wondering how I'm going to bring a suit and my dinner outfit in a carry-on bag without it wrinking.
posted by nickhb to Work & Money (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Your outfits sound perfect.

Get a "Suiter" for your carry on. Ask around among your friends to see if anyone has one. Then search You Tube for how to best pack it. Most hotels have irons in the room now, so press if you must. Remember, if it's wool, use a damp towel between the iron and your suit.

Go to Glass Door to see if there are any tips for the all day interview with the company.

Typically this is for "fit", it's not so much about what you know, it's about who you are. Be prepared to talk small talk with folks who may be your co-workers, higher level managers, etc.

They want to see how well you'll interact with the folks on the team. So think more about being personable.

There may be a panel interview or a stress interview, if so Glass Door should clue you in.

They don't spend the money on this stuff unless they're VERY serious. So Good Luck!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:46 AM on November 5, 2012

Re your last question: You should get yourself a garment bag that folds in the middle. If you get one with outside pockets, it should be all the luggage you need. Sometimes you can get the stewards to hang it for you, but even if you do not, you should just take out the clothes and hang them as soon as you get in, and they should be fine.

Long interviews like this can be tough, and I've never done one for engineering before, so I don't know everything that might go into it. In my experience, they have boiled down to a series of interviews with a bunch of different people over the day. You might be able to request a list of the people you will be meeting and talking with. This can help you to prepare.

Preparation is key to these things. That research you did before interview one? Do it again, better. Use the information you got from the first interview to anticipate some of the issues they are most interested in, and think about what it might be like to offer solutions. Previously I've developed a "here's what I'd do in my first six months-one year in this job" presentation which I have had ready. Even if I did not present it, I have handed copies out when it seemed appropriate to the people I was talking with. The key to that type of document is making sure that it's personal enough to show what you are bringing, but general enough that you are well within the mainstream of what they are likely to want.

I've treated these back-to-back interviews as essentially like campaign events. I had a message, I stayed on message with each person, but I also made sure I was responding to each person's concerns. I wanted to show the marketing guy why I would help him were I in the position, I wanted to show the data person I understood her concerns, etc.

The over-riding mantra for all interview situations still applies throughout your day, though: I want this job so so much, I'd be great at it, I'm flattered you are looking at me. Any actual evaluation of whether you really want the job only occurs after you've been offered it.

Best of luck!
posted by OmieWise at 10:48 AM on November 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

That's very nice that they're taking you out for dinner beforehand. A lot of companies will fly you in and just expect you in the lobby at 8AM to start.

Being from the Midwest we don't normally launch into business right away. At a dinner like this you might not even talk about the job at all. It's more of a "we know you're in town alone, so why don't we treat you nice and buy you dinner with some people you might have already talked to?" kind of thing.

I'd play it by ear and if they want to talk shop, let them lead the discussion and see where it goes. They'll be curious about where and what you're working on, but don't use it as an opportunity to give away company secrets or dump on your boss/coworkers.

Also, avoid drinking heavily, if at all. Aside from the obvious things that can go wrong, even a small faux-pas could reflect badly on the day ahead. There probably won't be any activites afterward but if the employees want to use the expense account to keep drinking/partying, you might want to carefully excuse yourself and say you need to rest up for tomorrow.
posted by JoeZydeco at 11:14 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I previously mentioned something that has worked well for me. (This pertains to the interview, not the dinner.)

Let us know how it goes! Good luck!
posted by jgirl at 12:02 PM on November 5, 2012

My experience with all day interviews (most recently Amazon last year) is to expect to get the same questions over and over again, but from different people with different points of view on what they are looking for in an answer.

They don't spend the money on this stuff unless they're VERY serious. So Good Luck!

Don't get cocky though. In the big picture, a flight and a hotel is a rounding error in the cost of an engineer, so it's not that big of a deal that they are flying you in. You still have to earn the job offer. In my previously mentioned Amazon debacle, after 3 phone or local interviews they flew me cross country to Seattle for the all day onslaught. I knew 15 minutes into the first interview in Seattle that I was completely wasting my time and that there was no way I would get the job. I was right.
posted by COD at 12:06 PM on November 5, 2012

If you are asked to join anyone for coffee or a meal, use your very best manners. My sister hired lots of employees and manners are important. Kindness and respect to support staff go a long way too.
posted by jennstra at 6:38 PM on November 5, 2012

I don't want to make you overly paranoid or anything, but keep in mind the entire time you are there that anyone at the company you talk to might and could very possibly be part of the interview process.

Example: my second-round interview at my current place started with a casual breakfast. There were some current analysts there, but it was very casual, they were just out of school, not formal at all, they wandered in and out seemingly at random and I wasn't even sure if they were part of the process. Two years later, I find myself on the other side of this, and it turns out I have to email a short report to HR regarding the candidate. I highly doubt that my note played any huge role, but if the candidate had been overly rude, or highly unprofessional, I'm sure it would've been a red flag.

The moral of the story is not that "everyone is out to get you," but just to be pleasant and professional the whole time you're there.
posted by andrewesque at 7:41 PM on November 5, 2012

Also, don't order spaghetti!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:33 AM on November 6, 2012

Remember that you're interviewing these guys too. This is the time to start asking questions you might be concerned about. I work in engineering too, and I'm always concerned about how many hours a week they really want you to work, and how overtime hours might be compensated (via overtime pay, end of year bonus, or not at all).

there's a good chance they'll throw a problem at you to work through that you won't be able to solve in the interview. don't freak out -- talk through the steps you'd take, and what resources you'd use to try to find answers for things you'd need help on.
posted by garlic at 8:42 AM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

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