by Lisa Marsh
Feb 8 2017
During the executive job search process, the executive interview is often the final step between you and your new role. But before you can move forward, you must master your interview and convince all parties, search firm and hiring organization, that you are the perfect fit.
But how is this done successfully at executive level?
- Do Your Research: The key to success at executive-level interviews is thorough research. Before entering the interview room, you must ensure that you can confidently discuss the prospective company and their needs at length. This will require extensive online research and can also include arranging meetings or calls with past and present employees. You should also be sure to research those who will be conducting the interview, if their name is known to you. Statistics, facts, figures, press releases, product usage, company culture and key competitors are all great places to start when building your knowledge bank.
- Look, Dress and Act the Part: As superficial as it may sound, in order to appear to be the perfect candidate you must also present yourself as such through external means. Make sure you have understood the dress code and taken all necessary steps to look and feel your best ahead of the interview. Body language can be integral in making a positive first impression too. Make sure you appear confident, prepared, and focused. Turn off all electronic devices prior to your interview session and make sure that you arrive to your interview 15 minutes in advance of the start time at a minimum. When introducing yourself to your interviewer, you should be confident and natural. Give your first and last name, make positive eye contact throughout your interview and when shaking hands, try to match the pressure of their handshake. You should also bring with you freshly printed copies of your resume/CV, portfolio and other personal marketing documents.
- Prepare for All Types of Interview Questions: There are a range of questions that might be asked during your executive interview, but some questions are more common than others. Try to establish how you would answer questions relating to your strengths and weaknesses, your biggest challenges, or times when you have shown leadership or decisive thinking. There are also likely to be questions relating to where you see yourself in 2 to 5 years’ time, difficult work situations and how you have handled challenges. Once you have made a list of possible interview questions that you are likely to be asked, spend some time working out how you would answer them, and if possible, ask a friend to read and rehearse them with you. It can be particularly vital to prepare and rehearse if you are concerned about receiving questions relating to being laid off, fired or explaining periods of transition. When answering these types of questions, it is important to be honest about your situation and to show that there was a reason behind your layoff and that is not related to potential poor performance.
- Create a Strong Close to Your Interview: When your interview has come to an end, make sure that the interviewer is aware that you are enthusiastic about the opportunity and would like to be considered, even if you have certain reservations. Feel free to ask your interviewer about the next steps and what you need to do to keep the process moving forward.
- Make Sure You Follow-up: Once your interview is over, make sure that you send a follow-up email or letter of thanks to those that you met. Letters and emails such as these are always well-received and will help form and continue the connections that you have established while in your interview. A successful follow-up letter or email should thank them for the opportunity, reiterate your interest in the role and organization, and confirm the next steps of the process. Ideally, this should be done on the same day as the interview or very shortly after.
If you would like to learn more about how to master your executive interview, watch the reording of our webinar "Mastering the Executive Interview" and receive insider interview tips directly from executive recruiters at top search firms.