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You have probably accepted at least a few job offers by this point in your career, but how often have you negotiated for a higher salary before taking the job? If your answer is “not often” or “never,” you’re not alone. Negotiating is tricky, and how much difference can that extra few thousand dollars make, anyway? The answer is, a hefty difference. According to one study, assuming an average annual pay increase of 5 percent, an employee whose starting yearly salary was $55,000 rather than $50,000 would earn an additional $600,000 or more over the course of a forty-year career. So clearly, it’s worth negotiating, every time—even when you’re switching careers.

What does it require to advance from a management position to an executive role? When you’re a manager, you do the hands-on work of ensuring that your team’s day-to-day operations run smoothly. You’re a team super-user, versed in the systems and operations that enable your unit’s daily efforts. You oversee that work and keep those who execute it motivated, engaged and fully operational. It’s a complex undertaking and handling it well can be the ideal preparation for new challenges. 

You are really in big trouble if you come across a job interviewer who just keeps talking.

What the interviewer really should be doing instead was asking questions, then listening to what you have to say about yourself and your work experience. You came for a job interview not to listen to a marketing presentation.

Technically speaking, we say such a person has got logorrhea, an actual illness and pathological inability to stop talking. Sometimes, and less serious, you see a word like loquacious, for people who talk a lot and often about stuff they think we should all know.

An ideal interview is like a tennis match: Interviewer serves. He speaks. Candidate returns. She speaks. Both exhibit poise, talent and knowledge of the game. Both sides learn. Both earn benefits that are independent of the outcome.

A successful interview fosters meaningful, productive conversation for both parties. It may yield a job offer, ideal for everyone involved, but it’s unlikely to reach that point unless the meeting flows well.

Perhaps the most important thing you must get right, to leave a good first impression, is to get your greetings right. Whether you are a candidate coming for an interview or a sales manager trying to impress a prospect customer.

But which one I may ask? It could be a wai if you are Thai, a bow if you are Japanese, la bise (cheek kiss) to good friends if you are French, or a firm handshake if you are American.

Screw it up and not getting your handshake, wai or bow correct, spells trouble ahead.

Handshake, wai or both?

Interviews…interesting topic, isn’t it? I get asked very often….how to crack an interview! For starters, an interview is a view of each other (the company & the candidate getting to know each other)…it is NOT a one-sided conversation…often, one sees very senior folks sitting in interviews like timid rabbits waiting for permission to eat cabbage rather than playing offense!

Executive interview success doesn’t happen by chance. It requires careful research, strategic planning and a plethora of preparation. There are proactive steps that candidates can take at every step of the process to increase their chances of success: from pre-interview research and perfecting their first impressions to learning how to expertly navigate challenging questions and knowing how to conduct post-interview follow-up.

There are many interview pitfalls that executive candidates can succumb to, so for those with interviews on the horizon, BlueSteps presents this checklist of do’s and don’ts for prospective executive interview candidates:

So you aced the interview!

It’s no wonder, really. You thoroughly researched the company, its challenges, and its competitors. You anticipated interview questions and tackled them with ease. You knew the core message you wanted to convey and you did so— effectively. You researched your interviewers carefully and were armed with excellent questions to ask. And, let’s be honest, you couldn’t possibly have looked sharper than in that dapper new suit. 

I find it interesting how many senior executives still develop cold feet, when it comes to the executive interview process, despite several years of experience of being on the other side of the fence! A casual conversation on the topic with a couple of friends at the club led to conversations with others, research… and, lo and behold, I have a treatise ready on the process! 

Peter Tulau, Director at AltoPartners, shares his “insider’s view” on the preparation good executive search consultants do to optimize the 60-minute interview time and get the most pertinent information from candidates during the executive search interview. As you prepare for your next executive interview, consider the crucial questions executive search consultants will ask themselves as they evaluate candidates’ suitability for the position.

The Executive Search Interview – a Search Consultant’s Perspective