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9 Ways to Fail Your Follow-Up Interview

Executive Summary

Getting that coveted follow-up interview may make you think you’ve got the job in the bag, but is that really the case?

  • The majority of the mistakes interviewees make are during the follow-up interview process.
  • It’s essential to be aware of the most common pitfalls of the interview process if you want to avoid falling into their traps.
  • Treat every interview as if it was your only one. Don’t let overconfidence fool you into relaxing and coasting through the process. Set yourself apart by showing up prepared, doing your research, asking the right questions, and bringing your A-game every time.

Most candidates simply assume that follow-up interviews are going to be just like the initial one. I’ve even had candidates over the years call me after an initial interview and actually say, “Tony, I got the job. They’re having me back for a second and third interview.” They couldn’t miscalculate things any greater.

Candidates often have no idea that the subsequent interviewing process is most likely much more difficult and treacherous than the initial interview. They aren’t ready for the kind of intensity and complication that goes on in the follow-up process. This part of the process is much less predictable and patterned than any other stage in the interviewing process.


Job seekers, more often than not, make mistakes in the interviewing process beyond the initial interview.

Here are the most critical ones:

  1. Being Overconfident: They think that because they have been invited back, they’re going to get hired. This is just another step in the process. Managing the steps at this stage is different from handling the initial interview.
  2. Forgetting to Customize Their Follow-Up Interview: They treat subsequent interviews in the same way that they treated an initial interview. Although the basic presentation is the same, follow-up interviews need to be customized and refined to do them correctly. Ask the initial interviewing authority questions like: “What will be the main focus of the follow-up interviews?” “Beyond what I communicated to you in the initial interview, what more will they want?” “What are the strengths I should highlight or weaknesses I should bolster in the subsequent interviews?” Get the idea?
  3. Staying Clueless About the Competition: They don’t get a clear idea of how many other candidates are being moved to the next step and what their backgrounds are. The competition is now keener. You have to get a really good idea about how many other candidates you are competing against, what their backgrounds are, and how you stack up against them.
  4.  Failing to Find out More: They don’t solicit the help of the initial interviewer in “promoting” them to the next step. Talk with the initial interviewing authority to find out everything you can about the subsequent interviews. How many interviews will there be? Who will the interviews be with?
  5. Neglecting to Do the Research: They don’t research the company, the position, and the people doing the subsequent interviewing in even more depth than for the initial interview. Since you now have a better idea of what the company might want in hiring someone, you should do more in-depth research about the job, those who will be interviewing you, and anything else that might be pertinent.
  6. Missing That Extra Mile: They don’t expend some kind of “going the extra mile” effort in subsequent interviews. Any kind of activity or effort that will set you apart from the other candidates in subsequent interviews is great. Be prepared to demonstrate your ability to do the job. I encourage candidates to develop thirty-, sixty-, and ninety-day plans as to what they would do in the first ninety days of employment and pass them out in follow-up interviews.
  7. Trying to Coast Through: They relax and forget that it’s in subsequent, follow-up interviews where most candidates get eliminated. You must interview better and work harder in follow-up interviews than you did in the initial interviews. This is not the time to take your foot off the gas and start coasting.
  8. Forgetting to Ask for Endorsements: They neglect to get the support of the subsequent interviewing authorities. This means asking every interviewing or hiring authority in follow-up interviews if they are going to endorse your being hired. You must ask, “What do I need to do to get the job?” and “Will you support my candidacy over the other candidates?” It is crucial that you get “buy-in” from the people with whom you interview. You want them to support you as a candidate.
  9. Arriving Without Their A-Game: They don’t realize how crucial subsequent interviews are. You have to interview better than you did on the initial interviews. I often refer to follow-up interviews as the playoffs. Once you’ve gotten through the initial interview, the competition really heats up. Now you definitely have to bring your A-game.

Adapted with permission from Powerful Phrases for Successful Interviews: Over 400 Ready-to-Use Words and Phrases That Will Get You the Job You Want by Tony Beshara, copyright Tony Beshara.

Bring It Home

Hunting for a new job can feel overwhelming, frustrating, and downright exhausting. Sometimes it can feel like you’re passing out resumes like candy and that you’re frankly doing good just to remember where you applied to in the first place.

So, how do you give 110% when you’re stretched so thin? And how do you keep your cool when so much is riding on the line? Comment below with your best strategy for nailing follow-up interviews. ~ HarperCollins Leadership Essentials

Tony Beshara author of the book Powerful Phrases for Successful Interviews

Tony Beshara

Tony Beshara has been in the placement and recruitment profession since 1973 and is the president and owner of Babich and Associates, a job placement firm. He has appeared numerous times on the nationally syndicated Dr. Phil Show.

Want to read more? Get the book!

Right or wrong, when it's time to choose between a candidate who is perfect on paper and one who is persuasive in person, there’s no contest. After all, almost every applicant who makes it to the interview process looks fabulous on a résumé. So employers have to make gut-level evaluations based on the candidates’ answers to the interview questions. How confident are you that your responses are distinguishing you from the competition?Hiring expert Tony Beshara knows the words that trigger “yes” in the minds of employers--and in his handy new book, he arms candidates with hundreds of ready-to-use responses to even the toughest interview questions.

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