Preparing for an executive interview

In many ways, preparing for an executive interview is no different to preparing for an interview at any other level; although you can fully expect the content, and perhaps even the tone, to differ considerably.

Here, we consider some top preparation tips before you enter the board room!

Research matters

Your experience and seniority is ultimately why you find yourself in the interview in question, but it’s still worth doing a little research in advance regarding the specifics of the business – just as you would expect, perhaps, when interviewing for middle-management positions.

At this stage in your career it’s also worth taking a strategic approach to this particular topic – perhaps by covering key areas like CSR, employee engagement, competitors and overall company ‘vision’ instead of simply citing random facts when asked what you know.

This will be much more commensurate with where you’re at in your career, as will knowing about revenue, statistics and backgrounds of the senior team.

A SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis may also come in handy…

How can I help?

Adopting an attitude of ‘how can I help?… Here’s how…’ will mean that you are much more likely to address the objective of the interviewer. I.e. are you right for the business and what can you bring to the table?

By doing thorough prep (see above) beforehand, you may well be able to identify challenges the business is (or might) face. In addressing this specifically and suggesting where your skill set and experience can help will make a great first impression.

Think: Situation, Task, Action, Result (STAR).

An interviewer will usually ask a question which aims to address (even if in a roundabout way) your strengths and weaknesses. Be prepared for this by citing specific examples where you’ve utilised your strengths but also (and more importantly, arguably) addressed your weaknesses and demonstrated that you’ve worked on the particular area in question.

Think about questions you’ve been asked in the past, and prepare answers accordingly. Although you may think you’ve been interviewed enough times to not need to spend too much time on prep, you will need to tailor your answers to reflect your most recent experience (and indeed to show that what you’re saying is genuine and based on real experiences).

General demeanour.

Give as much thought to your overall presentation and initial introduction as possible (without getting too hung up on it, of course). Such an approach will help to ensure that you are in control during moments where the nerves can takeover, and helps to make sure that simple steps such as shaking hands, introducing yourself by your full name and making eye contact still happen.

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