Executive Interview Process

Interviews…interesting topic, isn’t it? I get asked very often….how to crack an interview! For starters, an interview is a view of each other (the company & the candidate getting to know each other)…it is NOT a one-sided conversation…often, one sees very senior folks sitting in interviews like timid rabbits waiting for permission to eat cabbage rather than playing offense!

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:

I find it interesting how many senior executives still develop cold feet, when it comes to the executive interview process, despite several years of experience of being on the other side of the fence! A casual conversation on the topic with a couple of friends at the club led to conversations with others, research… and, lo and behold, I have a treatise ready on the process! 

Peter Tulau, Director at AltoPartners, shares his “insider’s view” on the preparation good executive search consultants do to optimize the 60-minute interview time and get the most pertinent information from candidates during the executive search interview. As you prepare for your next executive interview, consider the crucial questions executive search consultants will ask themselves as they evaluate candidates’ suitability for the position.

The Executive Search Interview – a Search Consultant’s Perspective

At the outset, let me clarify that this post articulates a maverick approach to the executive interview follow-up! While most of you would have read articles aplenty about polite thank you notes, a frequency which is not annoying et al, my experience suggests that the approach needs to be completely revamped!

During the executive job search process, the executive interview is often the final step between you and your new role. But before you can move forward, you must master your interview and convince all parties, search firm and hiring organization, that you are the perfect fit.

But how is this done successfully at executive level? 


For many executives, running into age discrimination is a unfortunate reality, especially since it’s partly about health and money. How do you turn your years of experience into an advantage?

Be prepared for those inappropriate questions. There’s nothing that exudes confidence and professionalism better than being prepared for those awkward and sometimes illegal questions that come out in an interview.

Don’t…be defensive. Recruiters and hiring managers look at a defensive behavior and try to read between the lines.

The majority of interview questions will focus on experiences from your past, but at the executive level, interview questions are more than likely to go beyond that level of difficulty. By asking non-traditional interview questions, hiring executives and search consultants can find out how you will perform in the position, uncover your problem-solving skills, see how you react to unpredictable circumstances, and numerous other traits that could make you successful or unsuccessful in the role.

BlueSteps recently hosted an #ExecCareer Chat on the topic of executive interviews, featuring Antonio Cassano, Cornerstone, Daniel Rezende, Dasein Executive Search, and Lisa Thompson, Pearson Partners International.

Some of the questions asked included:

If interviewing skills were offered as a course in college, it would likely not be a 100 level course or even one listed as a lecture series. One person could not stand up before a few dozen (or hundred) students and pontificate as to how one should go about interviewing; or even watch videos of previous interviews that have either won the job or gotten a harsh decline. No, interviewing skills are active and require an equally lively—even proactive—approach.