The Top 10 Interview Questions Asked to Executive Candidates

Regardless of the potential job, interview preparation should not be taken lightly. A polished LinkedIn profile, mutual connection or executive recruiting firm may help get your foot in the door, but how you perform in an interview will ultimately determine your future with the company.

For an executive role, you can expect to get questions about your leadership style, how you aligned process with the company’s vision, and your relevant experience. As you prepare for your next interview, think through answers to the following 10 questions.


These are questions interviewers almost always ask. While they aren’t specific to executive level interviews, interviewers use them to develop a comprehensive picture of your personality and experience.

1. Tell me about yourself.

Tell me about yourself is a staple question to get an interview rolling. The interviewer already knows plenty about you based on your resume and other resources, so use this question to connect the dots between those experiences to where you’re looking to go with your career.

2. Why do you want this job at this company?

As you’re researching a company and position, take note of the things that appeal to you, such as the company’s mission, its culture, the industry and the career advancement opportunities. Next, marry this research with your professional goals, interests, skills and personality. Not only are you demonstrating you’ve taken the time to learn about the company, but you’re showing how you’ll fit within the organization.

3. What motivates you?

This open-ended question can tell interviewers a lot, such as what drives you to succeed and how well you might fit the company culture. While money is a common motivator, honestly consider what makes your best day at work. Are you passionate about working in a team with bright people, driving results, interacting with clients and making a difference for them, or learning new things and challenging yourself?

4. Why are you leaving your current position?

Sticking with the mentality of positivity, identify the highpoints of the role, such as the skills you developed, the challenges you faced and the network you’ve built. Then use this lead in as an opportunity to express what draws you to this new position—whether it’s to face new challenges, work with new people or play a bigger role in creating something great.

5. Why should I hire you over all other candidates?

This interview question can make candidates feel like they are begging for the job. Instead, explain anything you haven’t shared yet and connect those examples directly to the job description. Also, at this point in the interview, you should have a better understanding of what matters to the interviewer. Connect your experiences to the interviewer’s interests, keeping in mind that any skill you mention should be supported by an example.


These questions are more common for executive level candidates. They speak to leadership, interacting with employees and how a candidate creates change.

6. Tell me about the strong points and weak points of your current or past boss.

Avoid negativity. While this may feel like an opportunity to air dirty laundry from a previous position—don’t. Highlight the positive traits of the boss, especially those qualities you also possess as a leader. If any negatives are worth mentioning, make sure they are constructive. Talking poorly of a past boss will give the interviewer the impression that you would do the same at the new company.

7. In terms of compensation, how much are you looking to make?

Early on in the interview process, it’s best not to directly answer this question. A proper response recommended by executive recruiters is, “I’m here to learn more about the company and find a good fit for my skills and interests. If you would like to move forward, I’m confident we can come to a fair compensation package.”

8. What changes would you make if you were given this role?

This is a question to consider ahead of time, but should be met with questions about the company’s vision for this role and why they are looking for a new person. When it’s time to answer,  showcase your ability to think strategically, looking at the company’s bigger picture, as well as creatively and analytically.

9. What do you look for when you hire people?

Identify what the intersection is between your values in employees and the company’s culture. Make the interviewer confident that you are intentional about hiring employees who will create positive change and work well within the current company.

10. What is your leadership style and what experiences showcase that?

This is a question you should already have an answer for. While there is not a single “right” answer, the leadership style you discuss should be a proven style that works for you. Support it with specific examples of how that leadership style has worked in the past. Your answer also allows the interviewer to gauge how you would fit into the current culture. Also, avoid telling the interviewer what you think they want to hear. Explain what they’ll get if they hire you.


It’s worth noting that any of the above questions can be turned around and used as an opportunity to learn more about the company and the position. Interviews are not a one-sided evaluation. If the company wants your talent, they should be trying to sell you on the position as much as you’re trying to sell them. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and follow-up questions. You can use their answers to improve the relevance of yours.


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