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What to Expect in an Executive Interview

Whether you’re moving up from middle management or making a lateral C-suite move to anew industry, there are some crucial aspects to remember about an executive interview. Executives are often held to a different standard than other employees and shoulder much more responsibility.

To prove that you’re capable of the job, keep in mind the following tips during your next executive interview.

PUT IN MORE PREPARATION TIME

As an executive, you’re expected to be a company visionary. You need a strong understanding of each department’s moving pieces and how they play into the organization’s overall strategy and key performance metrics.

All of this knowledge isn’t necessarily required during the interview process, but to make a strong showing, be as prepared as possible. This means heavily researching the following:

  • Company financials, including financial statements for public companies.
  • The specific challenges related to the company and its industry.
  • Top competitors in the space and what they’re doing to position themselves as such.
  • The other company executives, their backgrounds, and their strengths.

EXPECT THOUGHTFUL, CHALLENGING QUESTIONS

At the executive level, interview questions will be more in-depth and thought provoking than at the entry or mid-level.

Not only will there likely be more questions, the following will probably come up during your interview:

  • Questions about management and leadership style.
  • Specific experience-based questions, such as profit and loss experience.
  • Behavior-based questions, where the interviewer asks you to describe a specific situation you’ve experienced and how you handled it.
  • Hypothetical questions pertaining to what you’d do if you got the position.

ANTICIPATE AN UNCONVENTIONAL INTERVIEW PROCESS

Most people are familiar with an interview process that starts with a phone screen, continues with an in-person interview, and perhaps ends with one more in-person meeting before receiving an offer. However, executive hiring can be a much more in-depth process.

Hiring an executive is a major investment of time and money, as well as a significant risk for the company, so there may be additional and/or unusual steps in the interview process. For example:

  • A third-party analysis, such as a leadership or personality assessment.
  • Traveling to a different location or company headquarters to meet more interviewers.
  • A multi-step interview process with a combination of the above.

In one instance, a client of ours required candidates to complete a two-hour test, take a personality assessment, and then fly out to meet with the corporate psychologist for 8 hours of interviewing—in addition to the standard interview.

You never know what lengths to which a company will go to find the perfect executive candidate, so be prepared for anything.

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