When it comes to executive interviews, you must have a clear understanding of the purpose, be invested in the process, and give your very best performance in a high-pressure situation.

Below we’ve compiled three common executive interview myths you should consider to ensure you're setup for success.  

MYTH #1: "Once I get the interview, I’ll be fine."

This usually means that the candidate can hold their own in an interview and is only worried about getting the interview in the first place. These executives usually fall into two groups:

1.  Agile and eloquent speakers who are confident they can talk their way through any situation.

This candidate has not done their homework, and will not be prepared with sharp, insightful questions to ask during the interview. They can speak about their experiences but not fully prepared to relate their expertise to the needs of the organization. They can come off as ‘all show, no dough’ and be passed over for a less verbally adept candidate who has prepared thoughtfully and extensively for this meeting.

2. introverted technical experts who hate “putting themselves out there” but have tons of confidence when talking about their technical subject.

These candidates may not shine during the parts of the interview that are not devoted to their technical expertise. This may involve ice-breaking conversations and general questions likely to include casual or formal meetings with potential co-workers. These executives need to look beyond their technical expertise to convey how they’ll align their skills with the needs of the company.  

MYTH #2: The interviewer is looking for any chance to eliminate me.

Yes, interviews can make you feel judged and put you on the defensive. But try to look at it from the perspective of the interviewer. A staff vacancy creates a heavier-than-usual workload, and interviewing can be dragged-out and time consuming. Most employers want to find the right person as quickly as possible – then they can stop interviewing and get back to work!

Show them you are that right person. Go into every interview with a positive attitude and some bright ideas about how you can make the company better or the hiring manager’s job easier. Be prepared to overcome any objections they express (or you sense) about you, your background, your qualifications, or your expertise.

MYTH #3: If I have the best qualifications, I’ll get the job.

It’s true that companies develop a specific list of qualifications when they begin the hiring process. And it’s true that candidates without those qualifications will be screened out at the first stage. But, once a slate of candidates is chosen, it becomes about much more than qualifications. After all, everyone being interviewed should have the essential skill set and can do the job. So hiring managers and executive recruiters begin to look for other factors that will determine how well each candidate can do the job. For example:

  • How well will you fit into the team and the department?
  • Are you intense or laid-back? Which works better for us?
  • What “extras” do you have – things we didn’t specify for this position but that we know will help us in the future?
  • How have you handled challenges similar to what we’re facing now or anticipate in the future?
  • Are you promotable from this position?
  • What intrigues you? Where will you be most interested and motivated?
  • Do you help us meet diversity goals? (Diversity can cover a huge range of factors.)
  • What do your references say about you?
  • Do I like you?

Bottom line: You can’t predict precisely what the company or the manager will be looking for beyond the fundamental job qualifications. Focus on connecting your expertise to current and anticipated business challenges, try to be likeable, and let your personality show. After all, finding the right fit it is as much in your interest as it is the employer’s.


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