How to prepare for a second interview: 10 questions you should be ready to answer

Written by: Jonny Dickens, JMC Legal
Published on: 10 May 2021

Interview 3

If you’re job seeking and got through a first stage interview, congratulations! That was the easy bit - and now comes the important part. Second round interviews are where you will need to showcase your ability, skills and passion to ensure you stand out from the crowd. We asked legal recruitment expert Jonny Dickens from JMC Legal to tell us the top 10 questions jobseekers should be ready to answer in a second-round interview.

The first interview might have been an initial conversation over the phone with a briefer, a recruiter, a HR Manager or just a simple test.  Most legal employers have at least two or three rounds of interviews - there can be technical based / case study types of interview as well as a more general conversation. Some firms also do a third-stage interview to ensure the person applying fits in with the team.

How should I prepare for a second-round interview?

Whilst no interview is the same, it is imperative for you to be well prepared. You need to read back through your CV and focusing on your current and previous roles, give specific examples to each question asked, using the STAR technique to answer.

Situation – describe the situation and when it took place
Task – explain the task and what was the goal
Action – provide details about the action you took to attain this
Result – conclude with the result of your action

When asked a question like ‘describe a time when you faced a difficult moment at work. How did you sort the problem?’, unprepared candidates will usually state the Situation and go straight to the Result. If you do this, you will fail to demonstrate what the interviewer is trying to find out. They are looking for you to demonstrate problem solving skills, working well under pressure, conflict resolution and critical thinking.

A better example answer to the above could be:

“In my last role, one of my colleagues left after getting a job with a new firm. I was assigned a list of his clients, including one with whom they had built up a strong relationship. During my first phone call with that client, she said she would be following my colleague to his new firm (Situation).

She was a major client for our organisation and I was subsequently told it was vital to ensure she didn’t leave if at all possible (Task).

I therefore made immediate contact with her to find out why she was looking to leave.  This was because she had built up a good relationship with my colleague after having previously experienced poor customer service and she wanted to continue to feel valued. I ensured her I would continue to provide 24/7 care and made regular contact with her during the handover period whilst my colleague was working his notice (Action).

In the end the client was happy with the service provided and confirmed she would be staying with us (Result).

Try the above scenario out on the following examples.  If you have these ten questions well prepared you will greatly improve your chances of success:

  1. What’s been the toughest criticism you received so far in your career? How did you react to it?
  2. How would you approach a task that you’ve never done before?
  3. Tell me about a time when you let someone down? How did you handle it?
  4. Tell me about a time when it was especially important to impress a client? What did you do differently than normal?
  5. Has there ever been a time you had to work with someone who’s personality was very different from yours? Tell me how that affected your work and how you coped with it?
  6. Describe a time when you had to manage numerous responsibilities simultaneously. How did you handle that?
  7. Tell me about the last uncomfortable conversation you had with a client about your work and how you reacted?
  8. Have you ever unintentionally offended or upset somebody? Describe the details and how you resolved the situation?
  9. Give me an example of a time you faced a conflict while working in a team. How did you handle it?
  10. Describe a time when you struggled to build a relationship with someone important. How did you eventually overcome it?

What questions should I ask the interviewer?

In addition to interviewers asking you questions, it’s important that you ask questions in your second-round interview too, to ensure you are aligned with the firm or organisation in terms of things like career progression, work life balance, etc.

Some questions you might want to ask at this stage might include:

  1. What is the culture like in the firm?
  2. Do you offer remote / flexible working?
  3. What development opportunities are on offer?
  4. What support will there be in terms of the team structure?
  5. What will the first 6 months in the role look like?

However, it will be your ability to answer the questions using the STAR technique above,  which will ensure you stand out from the rest.

If you need any more support or career advice, check out our resources: