No matter how well-qualified you are, if you aren’t able to express why you’re a good fit for the role, you’re not giving hiring managers a compelling reason to choose you. This is even truer for senior level roles where there’s pressure on recruiters to find a high-value candidate to fill a pivotal position for the company. The reality is, you can’t simply show up, hand over a stellar CV, and expect to be welcomed aboard for your merits alone.
With entry level roles, the objective is to find a candidate who can successfully handle a set of job responsibilities. At the executive level, the stakes are higher, and the interview is likely to be more intense; hiring managers have to gauge your leadership skills, capacity to deliver results, and ability to thrive within the company culture.
The key to nailing a job interview for a senior manager or executive role is to be fully prepared. When you do the research and preparation work, you’ll feel confident when answering interview questions and present your best self. Here are four tips to help you prepare for your next senior-level job interview.
Research, research, research
Dig up as much information as you can about the organisational structure, culture, business strategy, and reputation. Use the company website, social media pages, and digital content to get a feel for the brand personality and internal culture. Use financial reports, industry journals, and press releases to learn about the company history, recent news, and future direction. Read the bios of anyone who may be interviewing you, as well as those in leadership roles to familiarise yourself with the people you may be interacting with.
Prepare for difficult questions
When you are interviewing for a senior manager or executive role, be prepared to answer tough questions. Any leadership position involves a lot of responsibility so you can expect questions that dig a little deeper than what you’ve experienced in other job interviews.
During the interview, your interviewer may ask behavioural questions. These are intended to reveal how you might react in specific work scenarios. They may ask you to share examples of how you’ve performed under pressure, dealt with an interpersonal challenge at work, or learnt from mistakes. Here are a few other common behavioural questions you should be prepared to answer:
• How did you resolve a difficult situation with a client or vendor?
• What was a stressful work situation, and how did you respond to it?
• What professional accomplishment are you the proudest of?
• When was a time you struggled to work in a team, and how did you handle it?
• Describe a time when you persuaded a co-worker to see your perspective?
Expect the unexpected
The interview process is evolving, so you can’t count on traditional question-and-answer experience. Hiring managers and recruiters are using new interview techniques to gain more insights about a candidate’s soft skills, resilience, and leadership style. These can include video auditions, where you’re asked a set of behavioural questions which you must answer in a specific timeframe, high-tech assessment tools that rely on AI and behavioural science, and out-of-the-box interviews like TechnologyAdvice CEO Rob Bellenfant’s Ping Pong Games or Richard Branson’s Cab Driver Disguise.
The more you prepare, the more you’ll gain
There’s nothing to lose from over-preparing. And there’s a wealth of experience and insight to gain from an interview you can give your best to. You’ve already accomplished a lot professionally – that’s why you’re ready to interview for a senior-level role. Step up to this challenge and embrace it, and you’ll eventually land the dream job that will set you up for the next stage of your career.