Executive Interview Tips

There is a plethora of resources that exist for how to prepare for an executive level interview including books, online articles such as this, interview coaches, seminars, YouTube video.  We are sharing a few points we feel are important to your interview success.  

Be Prepared to answer unstructured questions

When open ended questions are inevitably asked such as “Tell us about yourself”, be prepared to seize the moment and offer some positive insight, open up about your career trajectory, and focus on your strengths. Be careful though, accordingly to Fast Company There are many ways to respond to this question correctly and just one wrong way: by asking, “What do you want to know?”  You are better off considering the type of information a hiring manager or recruiter is looking for.  Think about the qualities they want in a candidate and apply your strengths to answer this common question.

Let your accomplishments be known

It’s no surprise that interviewers and hiring managers are looking for someone effective to bring on board their organization. Prepare in advance to hit on a few key accomplishments that truly demonstrate how effective you can be.  Capture your opportunities by listening closely to the interviewers and interject with a relevant accomplishment.  Use the CAR (challenge, action, response) to paint a picture of the situation, how you acted, and what the outcome was. Entertain your listeners as best you can with a brief but powerful story.  Remember to finish your accomplishment example with how your decision positively affected other people involved, whether it was a satisfied client, a boost in office morale, increase in stock price etc.  Also, keep in mind that demonstrating your accomplishments should not come across as bragging, but offering insightful information about how you handle adversity.

Be human, mention a weakness

Give time for self-reflection in advance of your interview and offer your interviewers and hiring manager a genuine response about a weakness you feel you have.  According to the Harvard Business Review “When leaders showcase their own personal growth, they legitimize the growth and learning of others; by admitting to their own imperfections, they make it okay for others to be fallible, too.”  Don’t stop there, explain what you are actively doing to turn your weakness into a strength.

Tips for Discussing your last position
  1. Explain perceived “job-hopping”.  Perhaps on paper it looks like you’ve bounced around a little too much in the past 5 years.  Or perhaps a company you worked for was acquired.  Be honest and forthcoming with your transitions, following up with a statement explaining where you want to land.
  2. Leaving your last position. You may be asked why you left your last job.  Give an honest answer, even if there was conflict, and keep the mood and the tempo of the interview upbeat.  Perhaps you can explain your decision in a way that you wanted to make a move to grow and develop, or were looking for a new or different kind of challenge.

 

Do your research

Whether you are changing industries or are looking for a new position within the same industry, do your research.  Not only about the company but industry trends.  Offer up some insights and your perceptions of the industry to your interviewers.  An interviewer may ask how you would handle a company or industry specific issue and you will need to be prepared.

 

Closing the Interview

You are essentially selling yourself in an interview, right?  Treat an interview the same as a sales opportunity and be prepared to close the deal if you think it is a good fit.  BlueSteps suggests you close with “I’m very excited about this opportunity. What’s our next step?”  Clearly let the interviewers know that you are interested (if you are) and remember to be enthusiastic and smile.

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