How To Prepare For Your Third Job Interview (Step-By-Step Guide)

By Matthew Zane and Experts - Oct. 12, 2020

Find a Job You Really Want In

Congratulations on making it to your third interview.

Hiring managers don’t schedule these just for fun — if you’re being invited for a third-round interview, you’re a top contender for the position, and you should be proud of that.

Your first two interviews have clearly demonstrated that you have the right skills for the job, so your third interview is going to be a little different.

At this point, the company is interested in learning how you’ll fit into their corporate culture. You should expect more in-depth questions that will help the company gauge whether you’ll be a positive addition to the office.

Why So Many Interviews?

After nailing your first two interviews, you might be more than a little exhausted with the process and wondering why a company needs to meet you so many times to figure out how great you are.

The fact is that companies often like to cast a wide net to make sure they catch the biggest talent. That means having fairly low standards for a first interview. This interview might be conducted over the phone (phone screening) and is a cost-effective way to weed out candidates who are not serious contenders.

The second interview is usually conducted in person. This face-to-face interview digs deeper into your skillset and allows the company to compare your skills with those of other applicants.

So the first interview makes sure you’re a serious candidate and the second interview confirms that your skills are suitable for the position. A company’s goal in a third interview is to determine how well you’d fit in with the corporate culture and various workplace dynamics. A third interview might also involve more people, such as potential co-workers or a hiring committee.

How to Prepare for a Third Interview

Some tips apply to any interview. Dress for success, maintain eye contact, yadda yadda yadda. Here we’ll provide tips specific to a third interview.

  1. Prepare stories — lots of them. Look, your skills were clearly sufficient to get you into this late round of interviews. What the company wants to know now is what sort of worker you are. That involves asking a lot of “behavioral questions.”

    Behavioral interview questions help an employer understand how you think in different situations and how you’ve behaved when presented with challenges. They also get into hypothetical “what would you do if…” questions.

    Take some time to come up with examples of work experiences when you overcame a crisis or were part of a successful collaboration. These stories should be about a minute long.

  2. The STAR method. Okay, so you’ve got several stories at the ready. Now, make sure they’re structured in a way that’s easy for an outsider to quickly understand. The STAR method is one of the best ways to accomplish this.

  3. Situation: Give the context of your story
    Task: Give your role in the situation
    Action: Give your response in the situation
    Result: Give the result

    For example, “My team was working on a marketing campaign for a client (situation) and my job was to develop their social media presence (task). I created daily content for their social media pages (action), leading to a 30% rise in followers (result).”

  4. Prepare for a longer interview with more heads. In your third interview, you can expect a more in-depth discussion about the nitty-gritty of what the job entails. That means it’s probably going to take longer than your first two rounds of interviews.

    It’s also possible that you’ll be meeting with a different person than the hiring manager you spoke with/met in your first two interviews. It might even be that you’re talking to multiple people, such as prospective colleagues or a hiring committee. Be ready to meet new people and wear a friendly face for the day.

  5. Come with questions. You’ve probably already asked some questions during your first two interviews, but now is the time to come up with some hard-hitting queries. Find out how performance is evaluated for the position, what characteristics successful employees in the company all share, and what challenges you’ll face in your first few months in the position.

    Having some in-depth questions of your own shows that you’re taking this third interview very seriously. It also gives you a chance to show all the extra research you’ve done on the company.

    • What does it take to be successful in this position or company?

    • What are the shared characteristics of your most successful workers?

    • What are some of the challenges that the company/department is facing right now?

    • Can you describe the culture of the company?

    • What are the company’s expectations for this role during the first 30, 60, or 90 days?

  6. Act like you are part of the team. You want the hiring manager to think of you as part of the team. That means using “we” instead of “you” when talking about what’s going on at the company. You’re in the third round of interviews, remember, so you can get into internal subjects that might have felt inappropriate before now.

    For example, asking something like “what would my priorities be in handling the new marketing campaign you have planned for the upcoming season” shows that you’re proactively thinking about your role in the company, which makes it easier for someone hiring you to envision it the same way.

  7. Clarify responsibilities. If you’re heading in for a third interview, there’s a decent chance you’re about to get an offer. Take the time at this interview to ensure that the role and its responsibilities are what you imagine they are.

    Just as the company wants to gauge if you’ll be a good fit with them, you want to make sure they’re a good fit for you. If nothing else, this conversation will convince hiring managers that you’re serious about being a good fit and you’ll have more confidence about taking on the role.

  8. Be consistent. You’ve already gone through two rounds of interviews and given answers to heaps of questions. It’s important that you keep notes during this stage so that you can give the same sorts of answers if those questions pop up again. This is especially true if you’ve had several different interviewers.

    All the people you meet during this process are going to compare notes on you, so try to be consistent. By reviewing your notes beforehand, you can refer back to them and show off your memory and how seriously you studied up to land this job.

  9. Research company/interviewers. Before any interview, it’s a good idea to research the company. Look up the company’s website, any hits they have on Google news, and check out their blog and/or social media pages. Keep at this type of research before your third interview.

    Additionally, at this stage, you should also research your interviewers. If the company hasn’t sent you info on with whom you’ll be interviewing, request that information. It’ll help your conversational flow immensely if you know what sort of projects your interviewers have worked on, where their passion lies, and what accomplishments they’ve achieved.

    As a bonus, if you have any contacts within the company, reach out to them. They might have some handy tips for your third interview.

  10. Dispel misconceptions. You made it to the third round, so you’ve done all right so far. But perhaps something negative came up in the earlier rounds of interviews that you feel might need addressing.

    For example, if your interviewer expressed concern with your timeframe for relocating to start your new job, you could mention in the third interview that you’ve already started looking for an apartment in your potential new city.

  11. Be ready for salary talks. At this stage in the interview process, you shouldn’t be surprised if compensation comes up. You can use salary calculators to help determine your worth, so you know beforehand what a fair offer should look like, roughly. Be ready with statistics that can help make the case for more money, but don’t make a big stink if you’re not getting the number you had anticipated. Here’s how to answer the question, “what are your salary requirements?”

    Don’t be the one to bring up compensation, though. The hiring manager will bring it up when appropriate. Remember that you don’t have to decide right away. However, if you get a mindblowing offer, get them to put it in writing ASAP.

    In the same vein, you might discuss the perks of the job around this time. Remember to include the value of these perks in your consideration of the offer.

How to Prepare for Your Third Round Interview From An Expert

Toni Littlestone
Founder of Workvision: A Path with Heart, which is my career coaching business.

As candidates advance to the third interview, it’s important to remember to stay present, warm, and human. It’s easy to get wrapped up in presenting all your excellent skills and experience, but when it comes down to a decision, managers want to hire someone they feel a connection to, someone they would like to work with every day, and someone who seems to really want the job–this job, for this company, not just any job. So take a deep breath and let your interviewers get to know the real you–not just the polished, slightly nervous interview candidate–but your whole self.

20 Third Interview Questions and Answers

We can’t cover every possible question that might come up in your third interview. If you know anyone who went through the same interview process as you, reach out to them for an inside scoop on what to expect.

Barring that, here are some common interview questions that’ll likely turn up, in one form or another, in your third interview. Remember that the third interview focuses heavily on behavioral questions, so answers will vary greatly depending on your background. Use the sample answers for formatting, not content.

  1. What do you do when faced with a challenge?

    At my last job as a sales representative, I had a client who was threatening to take their business elsewhere. In a meeting with the customer, I was able to map out the issues he was having and change how we handled his account to better suit his needs. I learned the importance of being proactive in these situations so that issues can be resolved before they reach the point they did. Since then, I’ve encouraged the rest of my team to use my method of regular check-ins with clients to make sure that everyone was happy with the service we provided.

  2. Give an example of a time when you had to meet a tight deadline.

    I was once in a situation where my team had to fix last-minute issues we were having with a client’s website development. By working together as a team and dividing up the work based on our strengths, we were able to deliver a fully-functional product ahead of schedule.

  3. What do you do when you have to make an unpopular decision?

    When I was promoted to manager at Cugino’s Restaurant, I was initially thrilled. But the manager before me had a very lax attitude towards people covering each other’s shifts. I felt that the system was confusing and inefficient, and left less sociable employees with fewer shift options than the “popular group.” When I instituted changes to how covering shifts worked, it was unpopular at first, because it added a layer of managerial approval, but overall, the restaurant staffing was better organized.

  4. Have you ever convinced a supervisor to change tactics on a project? How did you do it?

    At XYZ Company, my supervisor tasked us with maintaining a sales spreadsheet that showed which potential customers each team member had already reached out to. I found this system extremely inefficient and confusing and often led to members of our sales team contacting the same people. I developed an automated process whereby all the sales representatives’ contacts were automatically logged in a new, streamlined spreadsheet. By showing my supervisor a finished product that improved our day-to-day work, she was convinced that this change of tactics was for the best.

  5. If you’re hired, what is your plan for your first three months?

    I know there’s a big product release scheduled for January, so, as a member of the marketing team, I would focus my attention on developing a strong ad campaign for it. I’ve also begun taking a coding class on HTML, and I’d like to implement my newfound knowledge by developing a blog that could run parallel to our more conventional forms of marketing.

  6. Can you describe a time when you worked on something that was outside of your regular responsibilities? What was your approach and what was the outcome?

    When I was working as a software developer at ABC Organization, our customer success manager was in the hospital for a few weeks. During this time, one developer from each project was asked to liaise with the client. While I’m normally used to discussing my work with peers, I had never really had to communicate with a layman before. However, I was able to describe the progress on the client’s project to her without any major misunderstandings, and the client actually rated our customer service as 10/10 when it came time to assess our performance.

  7. What resources or training do you need to enhance your performance at work?

    I am always trying to grow as a person and as an employee. I’m a fast learner and confident that I can quickly become familiar with your internal systems. I’ve also started taking courses on Python, and am excited to master it as I’ve mastered other programming languages in the past.

  8. What do you do when you have a conflict with a colleague?

    At my last job, a member of my team would consistently blame his mistakes on a project on other team members. I’ve always felt that the best way to handle a conflict is directly. So I spoke directly with him and let him know that the team was starting to lose faith in him, as he had pointed the finger at just about every one of us. Afterward, he was much more forthcoming about his mistakes and more open about asking for help when he needed it.

  9. How do you handle making a mistake?

    At my last job, I missed a deadline that ended up losing us a client. My organizational skills were not up to snuff, and so I took time afterward to meet with colleagues to see how they handled their deadlines. With some new and improved organizational skills, I was able to always stay ahead of deadlines from then on.

  10. Tell me about a time when you set a goal and describe how you achieved it.

    At ABC Inc., I noticed that our company didn’t have a very substantial online presence. I’ve always enjoyed writing, so I set a goal to make a company blog that kept both staff and clients up to date on what was happening in the company. I also wanted to drive traffic to our company’s main website. In the end, the blog ended up boosting website traffic by over 15%.

  11. Can you tell me about a time when you motivated your co-workers or employees?

    When I was working at XZ Corporation a few years back, we had a big dip in our sales numbers one quarter. I was tasked with increasing those numbers, so I developed a new policy for sales commission, as well as extra incentives for top performers. In the next quarter, sales were back up higher than ever.

  12. Would you rather deliver a passable project on time or a perfect project after the deadline? Why?

    I think it depends on the project. When I was developing a project for a client at my last job, it was still full of issues when the deadline arrived. I pushed for us to wait until the project was perfect before delivering it, and the client was pleased to have a fully-functional product at the end. However, in the case of internal projects, I feel it’s best to deliver a project immediately when it’s passable and then implement improvements from there.

  13. How will you contribute to our company’s goals?

    As a natural problem-solver, I’m always looking for ways to improve. I know that XYZ Company is dedicated to analyzing and solving problems for our clients. I’m a diligent and thoughtful employee who will always keep the company’s goal of customer satisfaction at the forefront.

  14. What has been the most challenging project you’ve worked on? What made this project challenging?

    When my team was tasked with developing a product for our last client, we were given vague parameters and each team member had a poor idea of what was expected of them. I ended up taking the lead on the project, which involved developing a more focused strategy. Ultimately, the project was finished ahead of schedule, and my team was awarded for their excellent work. My model for the project’s strategies was eventually implemented to streamline future endeavors.

  15. What is the most enjoyable part of your work?

    I love working with people and seeing their goals achieved. At my last job, I was working with a client who had been constantly frustrated by former companies’ inabilities to see their big picture. By taking time to understand the client’s goals, I was able to direct my team to align their priorities with those of the client. In the end, the client was thrilled with our final product and became a regular customer afterward, which brought me a lot of joy.

  16. If a manager was unhappy with a project you turned in, how would you respond?

    In the past, when I’ve received negative feedback from my manager, I’ve always worked to understand what I could do better. For example, when I was working for Company Inc., my manager expressed that my PowerPoint presentation for a client wasn’t up to snuff. I talked with her after and found out what her priorities were for this sort of project. By taking her advice into account, I was able to consistently deliver successful presentations afterward.

  17. How do you handle working under pressure?

    I work best under pressure. When several issues arose last-minute on a project I was handling for Company Corp., I quickly identified what needed to be done. I delegated some tasks to other team members and handled my own side of things right away. In the course of a few days, we were able to resolve issues that might have taken weeks to rectify otherwise.

  18. What would you do if partnered with a team member who has a radically different work style?

    I tend to be a very methodical worker who breaks down a project into mini-goals. So when I was partnered with a co-worker who had a more freeform approach to projects, I was worried. However, I was able to play to both of our strengths. I handled the nitty-gritty tasks in my methodical way, while my partner kept an eye on the big picture. By working to combine our different work styles, we actually came up with a better-finished product than either of us would have come up with on our own.

  19. How do you define success?

    I gauge my personal success based on the success of the company as a whole. I want to fulfill and exceed the expectations of my role and grow as a professional by learning new skills. In my previous position, I always met weekly metrics and KPIs, which was a first step in feeling successful. Seeing my team’s projects help the company and our clients is when I feel the most successful.

  20. What is your salary expectation?

    Based on data for the role, my salary expectation is between $XX,XXX and $XX,XXX, which the average salary for this position in this region. However, I am open to other offers.

How to Follow Up After Your Third Interview

Just as you did in your first two interviews, it’s good protocol to send a thank-you note after your third interview. Reinforce the fact that you’re the best candidate for the position, but also express gratitude for being considered for the job.

The only difference for a third interview comes if you’ve met with multiple people. If you collected a stack of business cards throughout the day, write an email to each person to thank them for their time. Try to make them more personal by bringing up a moment from your meeting.

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Matthew Zane

Matthew Zane is the lead editor of Zippia's How To Get A Job Guides. He is a teacher, writer, and world-traveler that wants to help people at every stage of the career life cycle. He completed his masters in American Literature from Trinity College Dublin and BA in English from the University of Connecticut.


Denise Bitler, CPRW, CDBW, MRW

Denise Bitler has 30+ years of HR experience working in various industries and with all level of employees from hourly through C-suite, as well as company Board Members.She is the founder of Resume-Interview Success, LLC and is an expert in best practices related to resume, cover letter, and Executive bio writing, LinkedIn Profile optimization, job search strategies, and interview coaching.

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