Advice and tips on how to prepare and excel in your executive interviews. 

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.

While getting ready for an interview, we tend to focus on the tough questions and the appropriate responses to these, rehearsing often in our minds the anecdotes and stories that we should tell. But before you even get the chance to deliver these answers remember, a job interview does not start with the first question. Your interviewer will probably see you before they hear you and if you turn up looking a mess or with a frown on your face, that’s definitely not the start you are hoping for.

Did you know that 42 percent of Americans are myopic, also known as nearsighted? This means that if you’re driving a car and there’s a vehicle in front of you, another behind you, and one on either side of you – two of you have natural vision that is deemed too lousy to operate a vehicle (without corrective lenses). You might also guess that, without aid, these two people might struggle to see a forest for its trees.

It’s difficult to have perspective when your view is myopic. The same can be true when trying to steer your career.

“Your job at the interview is to be as helpful as you can,” said Claudio Fernandez-Araoz, a seasoned search consultant and author of Great People Decisions

He comments that most interviewers focus too heavily on experience and not enough on competence, and that it is the executive’s job during the interview to demonstrate he or she has what it takes to be a perfect fit for the position.

1. Prepare for the interview

BlueSteps recently hosted an #ExecCareer Chat on the topic of executive interviews, featuring Mike Morrow, from TRANSEARCH, Lucie Shaw, from Amrop UK, and Lisa Thompson, from Pearson Partners International.

Some of the questions asked included:

Here’s the good news – if you’re getting interviews, your resume is doing its job – assuming you’re getting interviews for the types of positions you want. But what you do before, during, and after the interview can increase your chances of getting the offer.

1. Before the executive interview, do your homework!:

Rising young executives are often not thoroughly prepared for all the ins and outs of an executive-level job search. Unfortunately, insufficient training in the techniques of career transition results in their ineffective or inappropriate application. The information interview is one of those tools that has been misused and poorly applied especially during down economic times when competition for every position is keen.   

Most standard interview questions are simply not designed to allow an executive to truly demonstrate their capabilities, ideas, and innovation. Executive search consultants are bored with cookie-cutter interview questions and the answers people give, which don’t reveal what the search consultants—or employers for that matter—really need to know. They want to understand who you are, how you will work and what value (ROI) you can bring to an organization.

During your executive interview, you are expected to showcase your unique talents and demonstrate your ability. But knowing how to do this in a way that will captivate the interviewer can be a difficult task. With so much at stake, even the most confident and accomplished executives can feel uncertain before a crucial interview.  

BlueSteps recently hosted an #ExecCareer Chat on the topic of executive interviews, featuring Tom Fuller, from Epsen Fuller Group, and Susan Goldberg, from Susan Goldberg Executive Search Consulting (SGES).

Some of the questions asked included: