Best ways to invite candidates to a second interview

Last updated:
December 14, 2020
December 23, 2021
min read
Sim Samra
Table of contents

If you consider all the facets of your job, which ones would you consider to be the most difficult? Everyone's answers will vary, depending on their roles and the type of work their company does. If you are involved in recruiting and hiring, you recognize the importance of this responsibility.

However, at the same time, you probably understand how challenging it can be to find the right candidates. Not only do you have to craft a compelling job description and promote it effectively, but once you have a pool of candidates, you need to identify compelling individuals that you want to interview.

Getting through the first round of interviews is just one piece of this process. Now that you're ready for the second interview, you'll want to invite the prospective employees.

Email vs. phone call

There's no question that going through the interview process is stressful for candidates and your organization. You may feel a sense of urgency to fill the position quickly, but you don't want to rush it to the point where you make critical mistakes. After meeting with candidates, you'll meet with your recruiting team and management to narrow the list of potential employees.

Once you've determined which candidates made the cut to the next interview, you'll want to send a second interview invitation email. Or, as other people prefer, you'll call the candidates personally to invite them back into your office. There are advantages and drawbacks to both methods.

Before the 21st century, calling a candidate on the phone and extending an interview invitation was the right strategy. Today, however, more and more organizations go with email communication. Most people check their email throughout the day and can respond at their own convenience. If the person is not at his or her computer, the message will come through on a smartphone, and the candidate will see it soon enough. When an email appears in the inbox, the candidate will quickly see the sender's name and the subject. This should eliminate any confusion about what the message entails.

With an email, the prospective employer can be discreet and descriptive. The recipient can read it several times, if necessary, so he or she can understand the next steps. A possible drawback to sending an email invitation for the second interview is that it may feel less personal to the recipient. The email may also get buried in the barrage of messages many people get throughout the day. In some cases, the message might even go to the person's junk mail folder.

Phone calls add a personal touch and may seem to the candidate that the company is more interested. A phone call gives the candidate the chance to answer questions, clarify information, and make comments right away.

Most people have their phones nearby at all times, so it isn't likely that the person will never know the company tried to get a hold of him or her. Still, there are some disadvantages to inviting someone to the next interview over the phone. The person may not recognize the number, which could cause some hesitation and uneasiness to answer. With the increasing number of cold calls and other unwanted communication that people get over the phone, the candidate may ignore the call and not check the message. Plus, the call could come at a difficult time when the candidate can't answer. For example, the person may be at his or her current job or driving at the moment.

Email greeting

If you decide an email is a right way to extend the invitation, you need to be cautious about the way you compose it. You should sound professional but excited about the candidate. When you are ready to send the interview letter to the candidate, start with a simple greeting. Don't be afraid to use the person's first name instead of Mr. or Ms.

The greeting should include a short message about how you appreciated meeting with the person for the first interview to discuss the position. You should express how happy you are that the candidate is considering working at your organization. You could even remark that you and the other interviews were impressed with the person's demeanor, answers, preparation, or some other aspect of the meeting.

Make the invitation

Your next step is to inform the candidate that he or she has made it to the next stage of the process. This is where you formally invite the person to come back into the office for a second interview. It's best to suggest a few days and times when you and others would be available for this meeting. Be respectful of the candidate and his or her time. Realize that the person may currently have a job and that getting away for an interview could be challenging. Be as flexible as you can about scheduling this discussion.

Here are some ideas:

  • Suggest three different days in the coming week.
  • Give two different available times on each day that you are having interviews.
  • Give a time range, such as between 9 and 11 a.m. or 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
  • You will likely conduct the interview from the same office where you held the first one. Still, you should provide an address to the office. Remember, your location may be in an unfamiliar area to the candidate. If the next interview is somewhere different, provide a link to a map.

Other key information

In the email, let the candidate know with whom he or she will be meeting. The discussion could be with the same people, or it may include additional team members or an entirely different set of management staff. Don't just tell the candidate what time the interview will start, but add an end time as well. Candidates deserve to know how long the meeting will last. You should stick to this time frame, too. Don't just simply estimate and tell the candidate that the interview will last half an hour when you know that it will likely go for an hour and a half or two hours. Be respectful of the candidate's time.

The tone and structure

Your email doesn't have to be long and drawn out, but it should be comprehensive and thorough. It shouldn't be stilted or bland, but be careful about being too informal. The most important guideline you can follow is to keep it in a tone consistent with your company's values and mission. You should also keep it conversational and friendly. Don't come off as authoritative or intimidating, as this may scare the person away.

You want the candidate to feel comfortable and excited about coming in for another interview. Remember, you want the person to be at his or her best during the meeting. The wrong tone and message could make the candidate feel even more nervous than he or she probably is already. Before sending the email, proofread it. You'll make your organization look amateur if you have spelling errors, improper grammar, and confusing sentences and paragraphs.


Make the second interview productive for both you and the candidates you're bringing in. This meeting may be the final step in the recruitment process before you extend a job offer. You want all the candidates who come to be prepared and eager for this important meeting.

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