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Trinity College Dublin

Second Interview & Assessment Tests

What are Second-Round Interviews?

  • A Second Interview is a more in-depth procedure than the first; it signals that the organisation is very interested in you and is assessing your "fit".
  • There are a wide variety of interview formats at this stage ranging in duration from an hour to two days.
  • These interviews very often focus on different areas from the first interview, are usually more challenging and are often carried out by senior managers particularly the person you will be working for directly.
  • In Ireland many employers still select on the basis of a second interview though for some of the larger companies this interview is sometimes part of an Assessment Centre.


What are Assessment Centres?

This involves in-depth activities and signals that the company is very interested in you. It consists of a number of exercises that can go on for at least a day and often two days. It normally takes place at the employer's headquarters or in a hotel and several other applicants will be participating also.

Assessment Centres:

  • Are designed to identify specific competencies.
  • May consist of two or more of the following six activities :
    1. Social Gatherings and meeting Personnel
    2. Group Exercises
    3. Tests
    4. Individual Exercises
    5. Giving Presentations
    6. Panel Interviews


Niall O'Connor, Store Operations Director, ALDI

Breid O'Connor, Recruiter, Enterprise Rent-a-Car

Anne O'Connor, Graduate Recruitment and Development, Kerry Group

Social Gatherings and Meeting Personnel

  • Generally you will meet a variety of people.
  • You may be wined and dined but your behaviour will be observed and you should appear socially confident and capable of relating well to different people. This is, of course, also an opportunity for you to find out more about the organisation, its culture and particularly the role that you have applied for.

Group Exercises

  • A group of candidates may be given a task, a case study or a topic to discuss.
  • You will be observed and assessed on your ability to participate, to lead without dominating, to contribute ideas, to persuade and to make practical judgments.
  • You may be asked to role play in a group on in pairs. For an employers insight, please see:


Neil Hughes, Ulster Bank, Graduate Recruitment Manager

Anne O'Connor, Graduate Recruitment and Development, Kerry Group


Neil Hughes Ulster Bank, Graduate Recruitment Manager

Austin Boyle, Senior Manager, Accenture


For more information see 'Selection Tests' at this website.

Individual Exercises

In-tray Exercises

In-tray Exercises are increasingly done on computer using e-mail messages. They aim to:

  • Simulate the types of problems and tasks particular to an individual company.
  • Give you the type of problem confronting them daily and look for your solution.
  • They are all looking for your ability to cope using analytical problem solving and interpersonal skills.

Case Studies/Case Based Interviews

  • Used primarily by management consulting firms as well as by investment banks and is increasingly used by other types of organisations too.
  • This activity is a discussion between the interviewer and the interviewee (though sometimes these can be run on a group basis too) on a real or hypothetical business or non-business scenario.
  • Through this process, the interviewer assesses the candidate’s analytical, problem-solving and people skills in handling realistic situations.
Physical Challenges
  • These are often used in selecting candidates for the Defence Forces.

Giving presentations

  • Increasingly presentations are used either within an assessment centre or simply as part of the interview process.
  • The topic is often given to you beforehand and it may require you to do some research on the organisation and its products or services.
  • Try not to present complex ideas, but do show a sense of humour and speak clearly.
  • You could practice this with friends or family before you go to second interview.

Panel interviews

  • Panel interviews provide an opportunity for each interviewer to observe the candidate answering the same questions and to then assess the candidate together.
  • An effective panel will consist of two to five individuals and each one will deal with one or more subject areas, asking a few questions on each.
  • Remember to direct your answers first to the person asking the question but draw in other members of the panel by making eye contact.
  • In Ireland, this type of interview is popular in the public sector (e.g. education, local authorities etc.).

Tips for success at second interviews / Assessment Centres

  • Be interested. At this stage the company is assessing your 'fit' with the organisation. Those who are motivated and enthusiastic will get the job offer.
  • Second interviews are usually held at the company's premises. Find out as much as possible about the company and its culture. You need to be sure you will be happy working there. Some graduates use their experience of second interviews to gather information about prospective employers so that they choose the most suitable organisation and role.
  • Be prepared for more in-depth questioning. If possible choose different examples to illustrate your skills and abilities than the ones you used at the first interview and incorporate information you have already learned about the company and the job. This shows you have thought about the role and how you will be able to contribute effectively.
  • Prepare beforehand the key points you want to communicate about yourself in relation to the job. Incorporate information you learned about the company and the job at the first interview so as to show that you have thought about the role, and how you will be able to contribute.


Paul Vance, KPMG, Head of Resourcing

Lorraine Toole, Graduate Recruitment Manager, PwC


Related Resources

  • Attend the Second Round Interviews workshop and view the video "Assessment Centres" [73 mins]
  • - information on assessment centres.
  • - information on assessment centres.
  • Target Jobs - information on assessment centres.
  • 'How to Succeed at an Assessment Centre' - Tolley, Harry & Wood, Bob (2005).
  • 'Second Interviews and Assessment Centres - Going all the Way!' - Philips, C (1996).
  • 'Succeeding at Assessment Centres for Dummies' - Povah, Nigel & Povah, Lucy (2009).



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