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How to Prepare for an Executive Level Interview

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Job interviews can be nerve wracking and good advice can be hard to come by when you’re applying for senior management roles. Our recruitment consultant, Louisa Poinboeuf has devised a list of  tips for anyone interviewing for an executive level role.

 

Guaranteed Interview Questions

A job interview is designed to test you. You're asked questions about yourself and your experience and your response is supposed to show the interviewer how you can handle being put on the spot. However, this isn't always the case, because there are always guaranteed questions that you can expect which you can prepare for in advance.

 

  • Tell Me About Yourself?

This question can strike terror into the heart of even the most experienced person. It is designed to test your ability to handle an unstructured and possibly unexpected line of questioning. Your response will show the interviewer how articulate and self-assured you are. As with all interviews, preparation is key here, ensure that you have a 2-3 minute narrative prepared to demonstrate your strongest professional qualities. Start with your most recent and relevant employment and explain why you are well suited for the role. Practice this narrative.

Try to avoid asking in the moment, “what do you want to know?”. Instead, when preparing, think of what the interviewer will be most interested to hear about and match your experience and qualifications to what the job specifications are.

 

  • How Do You Explain your Job Success?

Be honest without sounding arrogant. Use observations that other people have made about your work strengths or talents.

 

  • Why Do You Want This Job?

Be able to demonstrate why you have a genuine interest in applying to this company over any other company. What is it about them and this opportunity that grabbed your attention? What are your ambitions? What do you want from this role? What can you bring to the role?

If taking on this role will involve you moving location, be able to demonstrate clearly why this is not an issue for you or your family (if relevant). It will always concern an employer if an applicant chooses to relocate to an area where they don’t have an established network of friends or family, so be prepared to explain your reasons for moving if this is relevant to you.

 

  • Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?

If there is any job hopping on your CV, have a very clear reason why you moved on from each role. It is expected that any strong Senior Executive would stay with a company for a number of years (minimum 3) before moving on. If this hasn’t happened be able to explain why.

 

  • What Is Your Greatest Weakness?

Prepare for this question. Demonstrate that you’re able to admit responsibility and accept criticism. Give an honest answer and be able to show the interviewer that you’ve learnt from experience and are still working on this weakness.

 

  • What Do You Do Outside Of Work?

Regardless of whether you are an intern or a CEO, every employer wants to know what type of personality they may be working with. You can tell them about any hobbies, interests, where you live, volunteering activities, what you like to read and whether you like to travel etc. If you can demonstrate that you live a good quality of life that is well balanced you will come across as a fit, healthy and happy candidate.

 

Do Thorough Research

Delve into the organisation’s goals, culture, strengths and weaknesses. You can utilise social media platforms like Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter etc. as well as the company’s official website. Consider conducting an in-depth SWOT analysis of the company. Be aware of recent press releases, news stories, annual reports and competitors (and what the competitors are doing). Research the current team and key stakeholders.

 

Build Rapport

Build a rapport with your interviewer and get your personality across. Personality fit with the organisation is key and how you communicate with recruiters and HR throughout a process will demonstrate how well you manage people.

 

Stories And Examples

Stories of your success and specific examples are key, these are what interviewers will remember most after an interview and are likely to be what is quoted most to the rest of the recruitment team. Have examples prepared that illustrate your strongest professional qualities e.g. leadership, business development, strategy etc.

 

  • Tell Me About A Situation Where You Did Not Get Along With A Direct Manager

Be honest! Everyone has had disagreements with a boss and saying otherwise would look suspicious. Be able to explain what your opinion was at the time and that you were also able to take a step back and consider the other person’s opinion.

 

  • Tell Me About A Time You Failed

Again, be honest! If you can’t give an example of this the interviewer might determine that you don’t have a high volume of experience. How did you recover from the failure? What was your decision-making process? What did you learn from this? What would you do differently now? Demonstrate that you’ve been able to turn this negative experience into a positive learning outcome.

 

Ask questions

The type of questions you ask will make you stand out from other applicants, do your homework and have interesting questions prepared e.g. ask why the previous employee moved on from this role.

 

Just like any level interview, it's important to be yourself. Try to stay calm in the interview and be honest about your experience. At the end of the day, you know the answers to the questions because you'll be talking about yourself and once you know a bit about the company you should get on well.

Good luck and if you have any questions, be sure to talk to your recruitment consultant.

 

Posted by Louisa Poinboeuf on 14 January 2019

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