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10 Tips to Prepare for an Executive Level Interview

What is an executive-level interview?

The interview process for an executive-level position is much more elaborate and intensive than for an entry-level or mid-level job. An executive-level job interview is significantly different from entry-level and other job interviews in many ways. The most significant way it is unique is that it is used to determine your potential success within an executive-level position. While lower-level job interviews usually focus on your ability to complete a certain task or responsibility, an executive interview aims at evaluating your leadership skills and how well-suited you are, as an executive, to a company’s culture. They aim to determine your ability to contribute to a company or organization as a whole. Executive-level interviews are also used to evaluate your;

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

Read: Tips for Executive Interviews Conducted by CEOs

With so many aspects being under evaluation and scrutiny, it is essential to understand the details of preparing for executive-level interviews. Here’s how you can prepare for an executive-level interview;

1. Do your research

It is important that you take the time to thoroughly research the company you are interviewing for. Knowing as much about the company as well as the people you will be interviewing with is very important. This shows that you are serious about the position; it can also help boost your confidence during the interview by allowing you to have the required knowledge about questions you might be asked.

When researching, look at the company’s website, any updates on the official media platforms of the company, who the current executives of the company are, and any statistics and revenue numbers you can find. The more competent you are about what you know about the company, the better the impression you can make on the people you are interviewing with.

Research the people who you will be speaking with during the interview. Employment decisions often come down to cultural fit and chemistry at the higher levels, so the more you can genuinely bond with the interviewer or interviewers, the better. That means you should do some research about the people who will interview you on professional platforms like LinkedIn to understand the interviewers’ background. Take a look at their education, career path, and how they got into their current fields and positions. This will give you talking points and help you build a rapport with the interviewers during the interview; you will also possibly be able to anticipate the questions they are likely to ask you. Make your future employers see that you are knowledgeable in the industry and their organization or business. The research you conducted before the executive interview process will separate you from other candidates and help you leave a lasting impression on the interviewers.

2. Study and prepare for executive-level interview questions

Being prepared for a variety of plausible questions that you may be asked during your executive interview will help you feel and come across as confident. The following are common questions that may be asked during your executive interview;

  • What are your strongest traits?
  • How would you describe our company?
  • Why do you want to work at 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?
  • How would you sell an idea?
  • What would you do to help improve workplace culture?

3. Ask questions

Don’t just answer the questions you are asked. Most interviewers will end an executive-level interview by asking if you have any questions about the company or job position. This is also a great opportunity for you to gauge if the position and company is a good fit for your own skills and professional goals. Come prepared with a few specific questions to ask at the end of the interview that will both showcase your interest in the position and help you decide if it is the right fit for you. Here are some questions for interviewers to ask in an executive-level interview;

  • What are the major challenges the organization is currently facing?
  • What skills are you looking for in this position?
  • What are the primary goals of the company at the moment and what are the company’s plans for the future?
  • Why is this position available?

4. Prepare open-ended questions

To show genuine interest in the interview, prepare questions that you want to ask them about the company growth culture and your role. Questions like, “What does it take to be successful here?” can lead to a conversation that will help you learn about the role and expectations, and give you a chance to explain how you would help the company, and build an even better impression with the interviewers.

You could also ask a specific question about a recent project of the company’s. This will let them know that you are following the company’s progress and will be truly invested in the company’s business output if you are hired.

5. Dress appropriately

Executives are put on pedestals of much higher standards than entry-level or lower-level employees. Whether this is a virtual interview or a face-to-face one, you should dress the part. Dress in a way that is professional in order to convey your understanding of the standards and expectations. Ensure that you are well-dressed and well-groomed.

6. Deliver your introduction with confidence

Your initial introduction upon arrival to an executive interview can help set the tone for the rest of the interview. You should arrive at the interview at least 10-15 minutes early and be prepared with a copy of your resume as well as any other important paperwork and information. When introducing yourself to the interviewers make sure you make eye contact, shake hands, and use your first and last name. Be fully aware of your body language and show that you are engaged and interested by sitting up straight and remaining attentive throughout the interview. Let them know that you are passionate about becoming a leader in their company and highlight how and where you can make a significant business impact.

7. Talk about your past experience

One way to stand out during an executive-level interview is by talking about specific work you have done in your past. You can talk about the number of projects you managed or the number of people you have managed previously and you can talk about the volume of work you have been able to manage.

As more and more recruiters adopt competency-based interviewing, you will no doubt be asked to reflect on a past experience in your interview. Have a few interesting stories that emphasize your key skills ready. And practice these stories so that you are confident and articulate when you relay these experiences.

8. Begin and end your interview professionally

Reach your interview meeting earlier than the time agreed upon. This will give you time to find the location, in case you are not familiar with it, or account for unforeseeable issues such as traffic. How you end an executive-level interview is just as important as every other part of the interview. You must make sure to take the time to reiterate your interest in the position and to ask about the next steps of the hiring process for the job. Also express your appreciation for the opportunity and thank the interviewers for their time.

9. Prep call

This may or may not be something you are able to do and will depend heavily on the kind of role, the kind of company, as well as your connection to them. But wherever applicable, it is a good practice to maintain. This will give you additional insight on the company or organization that could be helpful in the interview process. While prep calls are typically quick, you will find the information immensely helpful in understanding what to expect when meeting the interviewers in-person.

10. Follow-up after the interview

The final step of the executive interview process – the follow up. To remain on top of the interviewer’s or recruiter’s list, send a thank you mail once you have completed your final interview with senior management. The mail should emphasize your excitement and appreciation for the opportunity and should also include a thank you to the interviewers for their time.

A helpful tip is to keep a draft email ready and add specifics right as you leave from the interview so that they receive it immediately. This will help them make a mental connection to you rather than having your email get lost among other more important emails.

Your mail should include the names of the interviewers you met with, the date you spoke, and the position you are looking to fill. You can also mention a pleasant moment from the interview but ensure that it is professionally worded. Briefly reiterate some of the key qualifications and personal characteristics along with skills that you will bring to the job position and team.

Executive-level interviews require a lot more attention to detail than any you have had before. So make time to prepare and practice for your Executive-level interview with the above tips in mind.

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