by Lisa Marsh
Feb 14 2018
Executive interview success doesn’t happen by chance. It requires careful research, strategic planning and a plethora of preparation. There are proactive steps that candidates can take at every step of the process to increase their chances of success: from pre-interview research and perfecting their first impressions to learning how to expertly navigate challenging questions and knowing how to conduct post-interview follow-up.
There are many interview pitfalls that executive candidates can succumb to, so for those with interviews on the horizon, BlueSteps presents this checklist of do’s and don’ts for prospective executive interview candidates:
- Your research: Prior to entering the interview room, it is imperative that you conduct due diligence of your potential employer in advance so that you appear knowledgeable of their history, performance, industry, competitors, press coverage, revenue, product portfolio and possible ongoing and future challenges. Reviewing relevant statistics can also help to set you apart.
- Prepare for difficult questions: Interviews are supposed to challenge you and test your professional performance in high-pressure situations, so be prepared for difficult questions to arise. Knowing how to handle difficult questions and by practicing your answers in advance can make the difference between success and failure. Create a list of possible questions, based on your research, that you might be asked during your interview and vocally practice your response to either friends or by yourself. Define your strengths and weaknesses in previous roles, then find ways to highlight your strengths and ways in which are able to overcome your weaknesses. Common questions interviewers like to ask include “Where you see yourself in 5 years,” “Describe a difficult professional situation that you encountered, or a time you have demonstrated leadership skills.” By preparing your answers in advance, as you would an elevator pitch, you can avoid having to produce poor off-the-cuff responses in the interview.
- Create a Positive First Impression: First impressions count. On arrival at your interview, you will not only be assessed on the answers you give but on everything from your demeanor, your confidence levels, your body language and your physical dress. This will all be under the spotlight, so take time to consciously cultivate the image you desire. Introduce yourself confidently, but naturally, giving your first and last name. Maintaining eye contact can be a positive sign of confidence, as is a firm handshake when greeting your interviewer. But make sure to match the pressure of the interviewer’s handshake in order to avoid appearing over-zealous or insipid. Your body language is likely to be read too. Think about the way you sit in your chair: sit up straight to avoid looking too casual and be sure to have plenty of rest before your interview as interviewers can be off put by tired, or seemingly disinterested, candidates.
- Prepare your own questions: It is commonplace for interviewers to ask candidates if they have any questions at the close of the interview. Remember, the interview is not only for the potential employer to learn more about you, but for you to learn more about them! Make sure you make the most of this opportunity by preparing some questions in advance. It will also allow you to appear more engaged, inquisitive, insightful and proactive as a candidate too.
- Be late: Being late to an interview is a sure-fire way to ruin your chances of a job offer. After all, if you were late to the interview, you probably would show up late to work too. It is reflective of poor planning and organization, and a sign that you are not serious about your candidacy, so punctuality is vital. Plan to arrive at least 10 minutes in advance of your interview. You can always wait at a local coffee shop before entering the building and no one was ever penalized for being early.
- Tell a lie when faced with questions you don’t want to answer: Sometimes elements of your resume/CV can spark questions that you perhaps don’t want to be faced with, particularly if you were fired or laid-off at your last place of employment. Although it can be tempting, lying will only lead to more difficult questions or, if found out, could ruin your chances of securing the role. Instead, try to demonstrate that there were specific reasons behind the decision, such as your department was eliminated, or your headquarters moved to another country. By explaining fully, you can dispel any misunderstandings regarding your performance.
- Forget to ask for next steps: Asking for next steps can help you to better understand the process, how many people they have left to interview and can also help to convey your interest in the position and can make your interest more explicit to the interviewer.
- Neglect Post-Interview Follow-up: After your interview is over, make sure you send some correspondence, either by letter or email, to thank those you had met for the opportunity and to solidify the connection you made during the interview. Your correspondence should thank them for the opportunity to interview, highlight your interest in progressing your candidacy and your interest in the organization, then confirm next steps for the process. Most candidates choose to follow-up 1-2 days after the interview or shortly after.
If you would like more help and advice regarding your next executive interview, register today for this month’s complimentary BlueSteps webinar “How to Ace Your Executive Interview,” which includes a panel of executive search consultants and a live audience Q&A. Register Here>>
The Ultimate Executive Career Guide: Master Your Next Executive Interview
As a senior-level executive, you can use this guide to: