How do you prepare for executive level interviews? To some extent, the preparations are the same as for any interview. Do your homework on the organization and know your own resume. Make a good first impression by dressing for success, using a firm handshake, a great smile, and have your elevator speech prepared for when you introduce yourself. But an executive level interview is deeper, with additional concerns, beyond the normal job interview.
Hiring influencers at the C-Suite level or Board level are concerned with experience, leadership, and a great fit. Your professionally written resume should tell interviewers everything they need to know about your skills and job titles, but there is much more to you and to the ideal candidate than simple facts and numbers!
Prepare stories. You need to be prepared with stories of experience, leadership, and soft skills that are not easily demonstrated by the numbers and facts in a written document. Prepare your STAR stories, with great examples of your career highlights, what you’ve learned with your eMBA, or the soft skills you want to promote.
Prepare for behavioural interview questions. These questions are tough at any level, but here, they are used to test for corporate culture fit and leadership style, so they have added weight. Research the most commonly asked behavioural interview questions and prepare answers that highlight the skills, talents, and leadership that would make you the best fit for the position you want. If the interviewer wants to know about a time you failed and what you’d do differently now, have that answer in your pocket, ready to go! Practice answering these zingers with a friend or loved one, so that you’re comfortable answering and look confident when responding. An executive coach can be particularly helpful during the preparation stage, as they can show you how to master this style of interview.
Sell your fit. You’ve prepared for this interview, done your research, so you know exactly what the ideal candidate for the job looks like. Tailor your answers, , and even your own questions to highlight the great fit you would be for the position. While interviewers often focus on experience and skills, because they’re easier to ask about, it’s your job to focus on selling the great fit!
Evaluate fit for yourself, too. While you’ve determined that you want this job from the description and the interactions you’ve had before this interview, never forget that you are not just there to win the job at all costs, but the fit has to be a good one on YOUR end, too. Are there red flags or warning bells going off during the interview? Does the corporate culture continue to sound like a good fit for your leadership style? Neither you nor the organization will thrive if you take a job that isn’t a good fit for your skills or management style. So, while you are giving a great interview, don’t forget to interview your hiring influencers in turn. Ask what you need to know that will help you determine if this great job is really the right job for you. Pay attention to those business instincts that steer you through difficult negotiations and conflicts, and be prepared to back away if the fit isn’t right.