Second Interviews at the Corporate Office

You prepared well in advance for the initial interview, covering every little detail from maintaining eye contact to your sales/action pitch at the end of the meeting. The reward for your diligence? You are being flown in to the corporate offices for a second round of interviews. SUCCESS! But wait … there are many traps that await you if you are not prepared for the 2nd level of interviews.

While the actual interview sessions themselves usually take up a fraction of your two to three day interview trip, what you may not know is that from the moment you step off of the plane until you step back on, you are likely being assessed and reviewed from top to bottom to determine if you are the proper fit for the company’s particular corporate environment. The following tips will ensure that you don’t trip some of the 2nd interview land mines that can blow away your chances for a great career.

–Travel Attire–

Most people seek to dress as comfortably as possible when traveling by plane. As an interviewing candidate, you have to remember that while comfort has its value, the first impression you will make coming out of the terminal can have lasting effects. Remember, there will likely be a company representative that will greet you at the airport and escort you to your hotel.

Wear a nice suit during your flight that you will not need to wear during your interviews. If you don’t have enough suits to last you through the trip, then opt for a business casual look. Guys, make certain those shoes are polished and clean.

–Your Host–

Companies will often assign someone to serve as your host throughout the process. This person often engages you with less formality, putting you at ease with light conversation and useful insight into the days ahead. BEWARE! This person may very well be the one who makes or breaks you during this process.

While engaged in disarming and informal banter, they may be gathering not-so-relevant information on your likes and dislikes, family responsibilities, conversation selection, and lifestyle particulars. This information can then be reported back to the decision-makers for covert consideration as to whether you fit the culture. Be on guard and watch your mannerisms and conversation during these “unofficial” encounters with your host.

–Business Lunches–

Another problem for the novice interviewer is the interview lunch, which is often billed as another venue for you to let your hair down in a low-pressure, non-scrutinizing environment. But this can also be a misleading engagement. Your dining choices could be under review to determine how you would come across to others during a business meeting.

Even when you are given the option of ordering alcohol, avoid doing so. Try to stay away from messy sauce dishes that can spill onto your suit. Also, while extremely flavorful, avoid the onions and garlic.

–Hotel Room–

Even if you are normally a bit of a slob at home, be sure to keep a neat hotel room during your stay in case your host makes a visit to your temporary domicile. You wouldn’t want them making the assumption that your junky and disorganized room is an indication of how your working environment will be kept. Keep your clothing hung up and shoes out of the floor. Be sure to keep any paperwork on your desk neatly organized and your entire room visually appealing.


Every organization conducts their second level of interviews in a different manner, but there is no way to know if the informal engagements are in fact so, or if your host’s contact with you will play into the decision making process. As long as you stay in interview mode from the flight-to-flight, you can avoid stepping into any second interview potholes.