resume writer
executive cv

Interviewing 101 for the New or Seasoned Executive

by Kim on June 17, 2015

Interviewing 101 for the New or Seasoned Executive

No matter what your professional level, the majority of job seekers will need to hone their interviewing skills, something that most people don’t want to think about, much less actually do. However, if you keep a few simple steps in mind, and don’t put pressure on yourself, it does not need to be a daunting process. If you’ve been using the right executive resume, hopefully, you will have plenty of opportunities to showcase your interview prowess.

First, let’s talk about the basic questions that are typically asked at most every interview. Even though you’ve likely been asked these same questions before, it’s still a smart idea to review what you would answer TODAY, vs. what you may have answered years ago, especially if you’ve been steadily taking on more responsibility.

Unfortunately, one question that is still frequently asked, and usually at the start of an interview is, “What can you tell me about yourself?” These types of open-ended questions can be tricky, as a gregarious candidate could probably provide 20 unique qualities, whereas someone more introverted may have a difficult time coming up with even three key points. No matter what your personality, the best way to approach your answer is to relate your comments to the position at hand. For example, if you are interviewing for a sales position, you’d want to mention traits that relate to sales.

Another frequently-asked question will undoubtedly be, “What are your greatest attributes/strengths?” Here, you should already be prepared with your answers that are more accomplishment driven vs. mentioning a skill alone. For example, if one of your key strengths truly is “communication,” merely stating that you’re a “great communicator” isn’t going to tell the interviewer anything about you, nor will it prove that this is, indeed, an asset.  Instead, provide an example or two where you actually used used your communication skills to gain executive approval to build a new data center, obtain difficult-to-land clients or recapture lost business.  Also, keep in mind that whatever you’ve “claimed” on your executive resume as a core skill needs to be proven within the resume itself via accomplishments.

If asked about your weaknesses, have an answer ready, but one that doesn’t delve into too much detail. If you can demonstrate how a perceived weakness made you stronger in other areas, or helped you learn a valuable lesson, you can turn this “negative” question into a positive. Again, try not to be too detailed and avoid sounding defeatist.

Some of the more creative questions I’ve heard, usually for executive candidates (but good for many levels) include the following:

  • If you could make any changes at your last/current place of employment, what would they be?
  • What can you teach me about purchasing that hasn’t been done yet? (replace “purchasing” with any skill that related to your background)
  • What do you dislike the most about your current job and/or company? What would you change and why? How would you drive those changes?
  • Why did you pursue opportunities with our company?
  • What was your earliest professional achievement that led you on the path you are now?
  • If you’ve changed careers/industries, why did you make that shift and how has it worked out for you in terms of your future?
  • What do you think that you could do better if you were selected as our new CTO, Sales Executive, Finance Director? (insert any number of positions….this is where you better have done your homework about the organization)
  • What was your finest hour at your current/last position and how did it impact the company’s bottom line?

These types of questions are just a few of the thousands you can find online or in numerous career publications.  As executive hiring practices become even more selective, and the questions more creative, you should research a variety of questions (and your answers) to prepare for the unknown.

In the meantime, make sure that you are always prepared with the most effective resume possible, especially since many interview answers will naturally appear in your executive resume through the form of accomplishments.

Previous post:

Next post: