Congratulations on your invitation for an interview! Now, whether the meeting is with a recruiter, HR or senior executives of the hiring company, prepare all the same! For a C-level role, in particular, consider executive career coaching to guide you through the process. But first, here are 5 typical and highly likely questions that may arise at your interview.
Typical Executive Interview Questions – and how to answer them.
Why did you choose to leave your last position?
You need an unambiguous answer here which is sometimes difficult to land when you may have been made redundant or left your previous role unhappy. Honesty remains the best policy. So rehearse your answer; be prepared to have a one or two-liner ready. Say that your exit had a specific reason, that your division, for example, was closed, that your head office moved abroad, whatever it may be. Show that you hold no grudges, that you are positive about the future and that new opportunities excite you. Attitude is everything, especially if your previous departure was a difficult one.
What’s your management style?
As an executive, you will be leading teams. So, are you a top-down manager, have you adopted an agile way of working or are you a strategic leader? Consider how you have lead in the past and think about how you can describe that succinctly. Have an example ready of how this management style has worked and failed, just in case the question is extended. Importantly, have a vision of what you consider to be a great leader.
Tell us about projects that failed.
Don’t be unsettled by this question. It’s an opportunity to show how you lead in adversity, something that many executives face. Explain how you identified the issue, how you engaged with your team on the topic, what the outcome was and how you embraced the lessons learnt. Show the positive takeaway from the event.
Why should we hire you?
Highlight how you will bring fresh ideas to the table, show that you are a mindful leader and enthusiastic for the company to thrive. Research the company culture and align what you can bring to the table in that department too. Your competence and experience count but your ‘fit’ will be scrutinised and this is where you want to land your compatibility (think ‘culture match’ also) with the organisation.
This can be a tricky one, so we suggest that you rehearse your response. Strike a balance between a figure that may be too high vs selling yourself too short. We suggest that you establish a range based on your research into comparable positions in the same industry. Also, don’t be reluctant to turn the question around and ask your interviewer what the company’s compensation policy is. Importantly, keep it broad and don’t put any one specific number on the table. You want room to negotiate if needed.