Are you looking for current and top-notch executive interview tips? Look no further! You have landed on the right page.
The hiring process for any position, especially when you are venturing into the senior executive level ranks, can be a stressful time.
Companies are looking to hire assertive, successful, and articulate executive leaders who have a proven ability to lead a team, achieve high quantifiable results, and demonstrate effective communication and interpersonal skills.
There are many do’s and don’ts for interviewing for senior level jobs. Let’s discuss 20 strategies for interviewing to position you for landing a job offer for a new executive position. Whether you are applying for a CEO, COO, CMO, CIO, CFO, or any director or senior level position these interviewing tips will help.
Top Executive Interview Tips and Strategies to Land a Senior Level Position
1. Research the Company or Organization
Make an excellent impression at your executive level interview by researching and knowing as much as you can about the company you are aiming to work for. By conducting research on the company’s financials, competitors, current market position, and business strategies, you will show the interviewers that you are not only prepared to become part of their team, but you are organized and confident enough to ask them analytical business related questions as well.
Executive Interview Tip: Know the Organization
2. Career Profile
During an executive interview process, you are likely to proceed through a number of meetings, either with individuals or within a panel setting. Often, the first question to be asked during an interview is “Tell us about yourself”.
This is one of the hardest questions to answer. Be prepared to share a career synopsis or short introduction, as this is a great way to introduce yourself and why you are applying for the particular position. Use your executive resume to highlight career accomplishments, summarize your achievements, and let your prospective employers know what you can bring to the company and the position of Chief Executive Officer or Chief Financial Officer.
Executive Interview Tip: Create a Career Synopsis/Personal Profile
3. Know the Industry/Company
A strong executive interview strategy involves knowing the underlying future plans and mission of the company you wish to work for. Focus your research on company performance, executive backgrounds, business statistics, etc. Becoming familiar with this knowledge and coming prepared to ask questions of your own shows that you are not only assertive, but also competent to lead a successful team.
4. Dress for the Position
It is common to think that executive attire consists of neutral colors, however if you wear a pop of color, you may be remembered over someone with the same qualifications. It is okay to wear something you are comfortable in, something that will peak your confidence, just make sure that it is still professional looking.
For instance, perhaps you have a favorite tie that has just a splash of color and sits well against a more neutral color. Was it also given to you by a loved one? If so, it may give you the extra confidence and comfort you need when you wear it.
Ladies, do you have a favorite pair of pumps that aren’t a standard color? Pairing pink heels with a black pantsuit or skirt and matching blouse will make you stand out, as well as give you that extra little boost of self-assurance.
5. Executive Presence
You have submitted your CFO resume, passed the initial screening, and now you are set to meet with the executive interview panel to further cement how you can become a valuable member of the company. This is the part where the greatest number of people, entry level to senior positions alike, become the most insecure.
Nerves get the best of us; sitting down in front of a panel of top executives can be intimidating. Practice speaking in a slow, calm manner and don’t rush your answers. When sitting in the CEO job interview, do not slouch, sit confidently, and look your interviewers in the eye when responding to their questions.
6. Make A Lasting Impression
Throughout the executive interview process, you will encounter many individuals along the way to the actual meeting with executives. Not only will you need to impress your interviewers, but think about making a positive impact with the recruiter, the secretary that is your first contact at the interview, and the assistant who calls to set up the meetings. Businesses value team players, and often get a sense of your personality and leadership style on how you treat everyone in the office. Sharing your unique selling point during the job interview will be important to make a positive and memorable impression.
7. Be Confident
A senior level candidate must display confidence and be able to showcase their skills in leading a team. Ensure that your answers are relevant to the successes you were part of, if these successes were part of a collaboration, don’t be afraid to say that, as it proves you are a team player and have the skills to connect with and motivate your coworkers. Overconfidence is something that may turn off potential employers, so make sure you come off as poised, self-assured, and composed.
8. Communicate Concisely and Clearly
Interviews are stressful at any level. When preparing for an executive level position such as Chief Financial Officer or Chief Marketing Officer, the recruiter and interviewers are looking for a candidate who is an effective communicator, someone who has an established leadership style, and is willing to make some hard decisions. Within the application process, you have already shown that you are qualified for the position, now you just have to let your communicative and interpersonal skills show through.
9. Use CAR (Challenge, Action, Result)
An effective executive interview tip is to use the analogy CAR or STAR to help prepare your responses. STAR is Situation, Task, Action, and Result.
Prospective employers are looking for leaders who are able to get their point across in a clear and concise manner. You should prepare answers ahead of time to ensure your responses capture the interviewer’s attention and create an impression that will last past the actual meeting.
Create your responses to include a challenge you faced, the action you took to overcome it, and finally, what the resulting outcome was and how it positively affected the situation.
Some potential questions are:
– “Describe your experience reading and interpreting accounting and financial reports.”
– “Describe a time when you confronted an employee whose results were inadequate.”
– “Tell me about a time in which you brought productive change to a company. How did you implement this change?”
– “Tell us how you would penetrate new global markets.”’
– “How will you expand the company’s portfolio and promote revenue and growth?”
– “How does your leadership style align with our company’s mission statement?”
10. Focus on Strengths for Executives
One of the top executive interview tips is being prepared for the standard interview questions: What are your strengths, your weaknesses, etc. When asked about your strengths, keep the answers concise and relevant to the position you applied for. For example, if you are applying to be the Chief Marketing Officer, focus on strengths related to competitive analysis, market research, and public relations. On the other hand, if you are applying to be the Chief Information Officer, highlight your talents that relate to technology advancements and streamlining technical operations.
Demonstrate for your interviewers how your strengths will make you successful in the role and how you overcame your weaknesses to become a more confident leader. Take the time beforehand to sit down and come up with answers to these stereotypical executive interview questions so you can relay your leadership capabilities in a professional and direct manner.
Executive Interview Tip: Turn Weaknesses into Strengths
11. Management / Leadership Style
Interviewers look for a leadership style that is going to match the company’s atmosphere and mission. They want an executive who can deliver results and can back up their statements with hard, measurable examples. Ensure you are able to articulate your leadership style so the interviewers are able to see what kind of manager you are and how your experiences helped develop your vision for this career path.
According to Psychologist Kurt Lewin, there are three main styles of leadership:
• Autocratic – make decisions without consulting team members.
• Democratic – make the final decisions, but include team members in the decision-making process.
• Laissez-faire – French for “allow to do,” give team members a great degree of freedom in how they do their work, and how they set deadlines.
Executive Interview Tip: Showcase your Leadership Style
12. Match Qualifications to Position
When asked about your previous work experiences, start with an overview of your involvement, describing the overall big picture of the project or assignment. Next, follow up with a few smaller points, some specific achievements or highlights that describe your contributions, how you worked with others to accomplish the results, and how your leadership capabilities were developed further.
13. Highlight Important Accomplishments
Another important executive interview tip is to respond with strong answers when asked some basic interviewing questions. Communicating your success stories that are relevant is critical to build credibility.
Do not simply answer with a short sentence, elaborate and give a specific example, quantify your career accomplishments using numbers, key senior level capabilities, and relay it back to your leadership vision. Just ensure your responses to interview questions remain concise and to the point; do not overdo it with a lengthy answer.
Present answers that are related to your executive level achievements with time management, personnel development, and company profits.
For example, to show how you increased sales or cut costs, say something like, “I oversaw a budget of $45,000 and cut costs by 10%”, or “I increased company sales from $1 million to $3 million within a year”.
Executive Interview Tip: Share Your Success Stories
14. Give Examples Relevant to the Executive Position
In your pre-interview preparations, make sure you come up with examples within your previous positions that are relevant to your prospective job aspirations. Come prepared to your meeting with applicable job experience situations so you can showcase the skills and qualifications prospective companies are looking for.
Tailor your answers to quantify your accomplishments; thus creating much stronger responses. For example, you could say you increased productivity by 10% over a six-month period by streamlining the overall training and development practices, holding employees more accountable, and encouraging delegation and teamwork.
15. Have Clear Intentions
Make it known to prospective employers that this is the position you want to progress your career, you are passionate about becoming a leader in their company, and this is where you can make an important business impact. Demonstrate how you will be a successful Chief Executive Officer; an exceptional Chief Operations Officer; an outstanding Chief Procurement Officer, etc.
Communicate that you are knowledgeable in not only the industry, but also the organization you want to be a part of. The research you conducted prior to the executive interview process will separate you from other candidates and leave a lasting impression on the senior level interview panel.
16. How Can You Contribute To Company Success?
Describe pertinent skills that are relevant to the position you are being considered for. Let the interviewers know how your senior level qualifications will be put to use in your new position as CFO or COO, and how your knowledge will be a good fit within the company.
Strong leadership qualities such as setting clear goals and accomplishing them within a team setting, being accountable and an effective communicator, as well as acting strategically and taking a forward-thinking approach to business strategies, are just some ways to integrate your personal skills into the position applied for.
17. Why Do You Want To Work For This Company?
Let your interview panel know you are passionate about your work and strive to make an impact on the industry you work in. Start a dialogue as to why you ventured into this industry and how your work ethic, leadership vision, and passion have evolved into applying for a senior position as Chief Compliance Officer or Chief Development Officer.
Ensure you point out the similarities between your current job and the position you are applying for so the panel can make a direct correlation to how you will perform within their company.
18. Ask Questions During the Interview
If there are any unanswered questions by the end of the interview process, take the initiative and ask your interviewers for clarification. Or if it is a point that you want to get across, do not be afraid to bring it up.
Let the interviewers know you would like to share some additional details and ensure you get your point across, as prospective employers want to hire a leader who takes the time to relay all possible information and showcase their effectiveness.
Some questions to consider at the end of an interview are:
“Have I answered all your questions? Is there anything you would like me to elaborate on or give any more examples?”
– This allows you the chance to clarify any responses with examples or it may give you another boost of confidence if they let you know you have answered their questions clearly.
“What are the biggest challenges facing the company right now?”
– Their answer to this question allows you to reiterate your executive level skills that could potentially help solve some issues within the company.
“What qualities are you looking for in an ideal candidate for this position?”
– This question could uncover some of the qualifications they are looking for that have not been mentioned in the interview or job description – again another opportunity to share why you are the right candidate for the executive position.
“What do you think are the strongest qualities to have in order to excel in this role?”
– As mentioned above, this gives you a chance to restate your qualifications that will make you an asset to the company, as well as give you an idea of which qualities you may need to strengthen before you start the position.
19. What Are The Next Steps?
There is a wrong and right way to end an interview. At the conclusion of your interview, make sure you show your interest and enthusiasm about working in that position. Express your eagerness to pursue this career path and do not make the assumption that they noticed your interest.
At the end of your conversation, let the interviewer know you are intrigued by the position and ask what the next steps in the hiring process are or when they hope to make a hiring decision. This shows the interviewers you are excited about the opportunity and are willing to continue with the hiring process. It also helps minimize any unanswered questions you may have, and gives you a timeline as to when you will hear back about the CMO or CEO position you applied for.
20. Follow Up After the Interview
One of the final steps of the executive interview process is the follow-up. In order to remain at the forefront of the interviewer’s or recruiter’s list, simply write a thank-you letter and send it back once you have completed your final interview with senior management. Your letter should include the names of the interviewers you met with, the date you spoke, and the position you are looking to fill. Reiterate some of the key qualifications and personal characteristics that you would bring to the position and team.
Executive Interview Tip: Send a Thank You Letter
If you apply the executive interview tips above to your meetings throughout the hiring process, you will not only be gaining the expected confidence of a top-level executive, but you will also be proving to the interviewers and decision makers that you are the right choice for the position.
To be the most effective executive job seeker, go into every meeting and showcase your talent, passion, personality, knowledge, and qualifications. Ensure that the interview panel sees you as an outstanding leader and a valuable asset to their company!
Don’t hesitate to connect with Candace, if you need help with interview preparation or resume writing. Call toll-free 1 877 738-8052 or send an email.
Do you have any executive interview tips you could share in the comments?