10 Tips to Prepare for an Executive Level Interview
What is an executive interview? The interview process for an executive-level position is much more elaborate and intensive than for an entry-level or mid-level job. An executive-level job interview is significantly different from entry-level and other job interviews in many ways. The most significant way it is unique is that it is used to determine your potential success within an executive-level position. While lower-level job interviews usually focus on your ability to complete a certain task or responsibility, an executive interview aims at evaluating your leadership skills and how well-suited you are, as an executive, to a company’s culture. They aim to determine your ability to contribute to a company or organization as a whole. Executive-level interviews are also used to evaluate your;
With so many aspects being under evaluation and scrutiny, it is essential to understand the details of preparing for executive interviews. Here’s how you can prepare for an executive-level interview;
Do your research
It is important that you take the time to thoroughly research the company you are interviewing for. Knowing as much about the company as well as the people you will be interviewing with is very important. This shows that you are serious about the position; it can also help boost your confidence during the interview by allowing you to have the required knowledge about questions you might be asked.
When researching, look at the company’s website, any updates on the official media platforms of the company, who the current executives of the company are, and any statistics and revenue numbers you can find. The more competent you are about what you know about the company, the better the impression you can make on the people you are interviewing with.
Research the people who you will be speaking with during the interview. Employment decisions often come down to cultural fit and chemistry at the higher levels, so the more you can genuinely bond with the interviewer or interviewers, the better. That means you should do some research about the people who will interview you on professional platforms like LinkedIn to understand the interviewers’ background. Take a look at their education, career path, and how they got into their current fields and positions. This will give you talking points and help you build a rapport with the interviewers during the interview; you will also possibly be able to anticipate the questions they are likely to ask you. Make your future employers see that you are knowledgeable in the industry and their organization or business. The research you conducted before the executive interview process will separate you from other candidates and help you leave a lasting impression on the interviewers.
What is an interview?
A job interview is essentially a meeting organised by a recruiter (academia, hospital, pharmaceutical company, etc.) that is used to evaluate a potential employee for prospective employment. However, consider this meeting as a two-way process between the candidate and the interviewer. The interviewer wants to find out how well the candidate could do the job and fit in with their organisation and team and the candidate aims to show that they are the best person for the job and for the organisation but they also should aim to find out more about the work environment.
Job interviews are usually face-to-face meetings; however, in recent years, telephone interviews and Skype interviews have become more commonplace. Interviews last approximately 45-60 mins, although telephone interviews may be slightly shorter.
Depending on the type of job you have applied for and seniority of the role, the interview panel may vary between three and 12 members. Usually, the more senior the job, the wider the composition of the panel.
Before the interview
In most cases, being invited to the interview usually means that you’re qualified for the job; i.e. you meet all the essential criteria and most of the desirable ones (if not all of them). The interview is mostly about the panel finding out whether you can support what has been written on your application and how you can implement these things.
How you act in the interview and how you answer questions posed is crucial, regardless of whether you will get a job offer or not, and good preparation will give you a great advantage in presenting your personal skills. There are some simple steps to take before the interview to help you comfortably answer the interview questions and these are mainly focused on research and planning.
The employer expects you to have knowledge about the organisation and the department you have applied for. We would recommend that you do a thorough search and read the organisation’s website, social media profiles and key literature (e.g. business/research plan, clinical/research/financial reports, recent accomplishments/awards/fundings etc.). Also check the news, competitors, history and opportunities of the sector. Figure out which aspects they are focusing on, what is important to them and how they appear online? Then revisit the job description of the job you have been shortlisted for and place this into the bigger picture of the organisation.
Consider arranging a visit to the organisation to see the surroundings, talk to potential future colleagues and ask more about their processes. Get in touch with people who have worked at the institution or lab to find out more information. However, be cautious when talking to previous or current employees as they potentially may be biased by personal experiences.
Based on all this research, you need to think how your goals would match the organisation’s goals and how your strengths and experience/expertise in the field will serve the organisation and/or even contribute to the solution of problems they may face. Knowing all this info shows enthusiasm for the job and also gives you the opportunity to apply your personal attributes to the organisation’s needs and goals and establish a robust relationship right from the interview (or even before the interview if you have arranged a site visit). Some organisations have a dedicated section on their website with their values. Try to think of examples from your personal/professional life that reflect how you apply these values in daily life and be prepared to mention these during the interview.
However, bear in mind that the detective work is usually done reciprocally. Potential employers will usually do their research on you and even check your social media account. Therefore, you need to be mindful with regards to your internet presence.
Review your CV and application form
This translates into reviewing your skills, abilities and characteristics in detail and identifying those that apply to the potential future employer and job and also present them in a way that match their goals and needs. Imagine yourself in the actual position, what do you offer to the organisation? If you’ve reflected on this beforehand, it will make it easier to answer clearly and well during the interview. This gives an impression of good introspection. Try to remember relevant examples of applying similar skills in your previous job as it is always good to mention these during the interview.
It is of vital importance not to claim that you can do/know something that you do not. This is dishonest and it may ruin the whole interview process. Imagine that you state that you can speak fluent French and, during the interview, the panel decide to switch the interview language to French; this will be a very awkward moment!
A poorly chosen email address, used for communication purposes in the CV and application form, can reflect on your professionalism. Keep it simple and select a professional-looking email address e.g. [email protected]…
Contact your referees
Your references would usually come from people that are really busy (former line manager, academics, etc.); therefore, it is essential that you alert them that you’ll be interviewing and that they may receive a call or an email to which they need to respond promptly. Depending on the relationship you have with them, you might also ask them what their overall impression is about you. However, bear in mind that a good referee will always send you a copy of their reference unless it is in the form of an on-line questionnaire; in this case, they will update you. Some interviewers might ask you what your referees will say about you and knowing something about it, again, shows good introspection.
Reverse thinking: think about the interview from the interviewer’s point of view
This brings you to the point where you should anticipate potential questions and prepare answers accordingly in advance. Table 1 highlights the typical questions that you will be asked in most interviews.
Behavioral Interview Questions
How to Answer 5 Common Interview Questions
The more time you spend preparing for a job interview, the better your chances will be of acing it. You’ll feel more comfortable speaking with the hiring manager if you’re familiar with the company’s products and services.
Research the company. Before your interview, take the time to learn as much as possible about the job and your prospective employer. There are many different resources you can use to find information and news about the organization, its mission, and its plans.
Make a match. Take the time before the interview to make matches between your qualifications and the requirements as stated in the job announcement. This way, you will have examples at hand to demonstrate your suitability for the job.
Practice your responses. Write out your answer in advance for each question and then read it aloud to ensure it sounds natural. Try to keep it short and sweet. You don’t want to come across as the type of person who endlessly drones on about themselves.
Be prepared to show and tell. It can be helpful to remember the tip “show, don’t tell.” For example, rather than stating that you are an excellent problem solver, instead give an example that demonstrates this, ideally drawing on an anecdote from your professional experience.
How To Make the Best Impression
The first impression you make at a job interview, is going to be the most important one. Hiring managers can decide whether you’re a good candidate, or not, within a few minutes of meeting you. These tips will help you make a terrific first impression.
Dress for success. What you wear to the interview is important because you don’t want to be underdressed or overdressed. A three-piece suit can be as out of place as shorts and a t-shirt. Carefully choose appropriate attire, and don’t be afraid to ask the person who scheduled the interview if you’re not sure what to wear.
Be on time or a little early. You definitely don’t want to keep your interviewer waiting, so be on time or a few minutes early for your appointment. If you’re not sure where you’re going, do a trial run ahead of time so you know how long it will take you to get there.
Keep it positive. Always try to put a positive slant on your responses to questions. It’s better to give the impression that you’re more motivated by the possibility of new opportunities than by trying to escape a bad situation. In addition, it’s important to avoid bashing your current organization, colleagues, or supervisor. An employer is not likely to want to bring on someone who talks negatively about a company.
Follow up after the interview. After every job interview, take the time to send a thank-you note or email message sharing your appreciation for the time the interviewer spent with you, and reiterating your interest in the job. If there was something you wish you had said during the interview, but didn’t get a chance to, this is a good opportunity to mention it.