How to Prepare for an Executive-Level Interview

When you are interviewing for an executive-level position, the interviewer is looking for someone who is not only qualified but also ready to take on the challenges of the role. Landing a job at this level is no easy task. However, with the right preparation and strategy, you can give yourself the best chance of success. To make sure you are prepared for your interview, review these tips on how to highlight your skills and readiness. By being well-prepared, you can put your best foot forward and show the interviewer that you are the perfect candidate for the job.  

How are executive interviews different? 

The difference between an executive-level job interview and other types of interviews is significant. While entry to mid-level jobs typically focuses on one specific task or responsibility, the goal in this type of interview may be more reflective as it aims to decide whether you will succeed at higher levels within your prospective company's hierarchy (indeed.com). Executive-level interviewers are also evaluating your; 

  • Ability to implement change within a company Management and leadership skills 
  • Likelihood of setting and meeting strategic goals 
  • Decision-making skills
  • Ability to deliver results 

5 Tips to prepare for an Executive Level Interview 

1. Do Your Research and Prepare for Executive Level Interview Questions 

Never underestimate the power of research. Conducting thorough research on the industry, position, and company you are interviewing for can heavily affect the rate of success you’ll have during your interview (ivyexec.com). Being well knowledgeable on the subject matter shows that you are serious about the position. Doing research can also give you a confidence boost when answering questions by allowing you to have the right information on standby.  

Additionally, do research on the people that will be at the interview. Often, employment decisions come down to which candidate will be the best fit culturally. That means creating a genuine bond with the interviewer is increasingly important (northwest.education). Some steps you can take to build rapport include looking the interviewers up on professional platforms such as LinkedIn. Learn about their education, career path, and how they got to their present industry and role. Have your future employers see that you are knowledgeable in the industry and ready to make an impact. The pre-interview research can substantially set you apart from the other candidates and make you memorable with the interviewers (thebalancecareers.com).  

Lastly, do research on yourself. Review the following potential executive-level interview questions. Discover a clear and effective answer for further preparation (newmanstewart.co.uk).  

  • What are your strongest traits? 
  • How would you describe our company? 
  • What is your management style? 
  • Did you ever have a negative experience with a supervisor? What caused it? 
  • What is your strategy for increasing company revenue? 
  • How would you react to your employees for wins and losses? 
  • What areas do you believe you could improve in? 
  • How would you increase communication across departments?  

2. Prepare for Executive Assessment  

Hiring organizations have many unique needs when it comes to finding new hires. Some rely on in-house tools, but many turn towards HOGAN's Executive Competency Assessment Tool for its ability to supply insight into how final candidates will perform and lead others (jodymichael.com). The HOGAN assessment is based off the Five Factor Model which includes openness (the ease with which one absorbs innovative ideas), emotional stability, dependability/trustworthiness, and extroversion vs introverted personality types.  

HOGAN turns the assessment results into 23 competencies that are necessary for C-suite level performance and effective leadership (lochlinpartners.com). Some of these include interpersonal (communication and interpersonal relations, influence and networking, conflict management; politeness, cooperation, and teamwork), intrapersonal (reliability, consistency, prudence, flexibility and adaptation and commitment to development), and leadership (prioritizing, management independence, objectiveness, achievement orientation and interest reinforcement). While there is not much one can do to prepare for this assessment, it is helpful to be candid and direct during the test (us.experteer.com).  

3. Practice Storytelling and Have Them Picture a Future Version of You  

Another way to set yourself apart from other candidates is to build a narrative to give the other person a clearer picture of the scenario (topinterview.com). Use the S.T.A.R. method to explain your story to ensure you hit each important detail for the listener to understand.  

  • Situation: Explain the general situation you were in. 
  • Task: Describe the task that needed to be done. 
  • Action: Talk about the action or strategy you chose and why. 
  • Result: Finally, tell the interviewer about the outcome. 

While you will be using storytelling to describe past accomplishments (more on this later), try to spend the same amount of time speaking about the future. Explain how you would help them succeed and how your skillset aligns with the company’s goals (executivecareerbrand.com). Also, show that you have a vision for what you would want to carry out in this position.  

4. Have Examples Ready and Show Off Specific Accomplishments 

Typically, potential employers want to hear specific and concrete examples of when you showed certain skills needed for executives (inveniaspartners.com). Utilize past accomplishments to talk about how you achieved specific results. Include metrics alongside the explanation. For example, you can mention company-wide metrics or the number of projects you managed like, “I co-led content marketing efforts for a website receiving 3,000,000 monthly page views while managing 800 inbound customer requests per day.” Using metrics can help you go more in-depth with an answer to a surface-level question (onlinemba.wsu.edu). Overall, having the ability to vividly explain the results can separate you from the other interviewees.  

5. Closing Like a Professional and The Follow-Up 

Be sure to take some time at the end of the interview to reiterate your interest in the role and ask about the next steps. The last step of the executive interview process is the follow-up.  

To stay at the top of the interviewer’s list is by sending a thank you email after you finished your final interview with senior directors (pageexecutive.com). In the thank you message, emphasize your appreciation and excitement for the opportunity and thank the interviewers for their time. Also, mention something specific from the interview and word it professionally. Sending a last thank you email can prevent your email from getting lost along with the other messages in the interviewer’s inbox (monster.com).  

Practice Makes Perfect 

To ace your next executive-level interview, it is important to remember that the process is different from a regular job interview. You will need to do your research and be prepared for questions about your experience, as well as specific questions designed to assess how you would handle being in a leadership role. Our five tips should help you deliver an introduction confidently, show off your accomplishments, and close like a pro. But don’t forget – practice makes perfect! So, make sure you rehearse before your big day. If you want more information on what to expect or need help preparing for your interview, become a member of BlueSteps today. We have tons of resources available just for executives like you. Are there any other tips or advice you would give job-seekers preparing for an executive-level interview? Share them with us in the comments below. 

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