Executives are well aware that they need to be prepared to answer the typical questions during an interview such as: What is your greatest strength? Where do you see yourself in five years? What these types of interview questions don’t reveal is how good an executive will perform in the position, and isn’t that really what an employer wants to know?
Major companies are moving away from the traditional interview questions that have proved ineffective and are incorporating questions that will help them better identify the most qualified executive.
Here are a few you may be asked during the interview process:
1. Why do you want to work here? Being part of the team, especially at the executive level is extremely important to an organization. They want to make sure you will fit with the corporate staff that already exists. Your ability to respond with a convincing answer that conveys a good connection to the company and its people will weigh heavily on your interview “score.”
2. What type of people do you like to work with? The company is hoping to get a peek into an executive’s character by evaluating past experiences and a sincere answer to people preferences. An example of a response: “I like to respect the people I work with and collaborate on solutions to challenging issues.”
3. What do you consider a normal work week? We all know that the 40-hour work week is almost extinct, and companies aren’t hiding this fact when interviewing potential executives. They want to make sure you know what their expectations are before they hire you. Most executives work the hours necessary to get the job done, and that can mean 60-80 hour work weeks, so let the company know you can handle it.
4. How’s your energy level? This question could be considered on the borderline of discrimination, however, what the company is trying to find out is – do you have what it takes, mentally, physically, and emotionally to handle a highly stressful and demanding position? People at the executive level are expected to be the leaders of the organization and that can oftentimes mean putting all the effort they have into succeeding.
5. What did you learn from your last position? Did you have to adjust to dramatic budget changes, volatile market slumps, or explosive growth? Answers to these questions give the employer a glimpse at how you handled and adapted to ever-changing situations inherent in business today, and how that might have value to the issues they are currently facing.
At some point in the interview you may be subjected to a series of rapid-fire questions that don’t seem to have much relevance to the position they are hiring for such as: What is your favorite book? What is your favorite place to live? Why? They are testing an executive’s ability to think quickly and hope to see the more genuine side of a candidate. Don’t be too rigid and let “you” as a person, not solely as an executive, show up here.
My prediction is that these types of questions will become more the “norm” in the future because they give companies a better insight into who the executive is, how they think and react, and how they would fit with the current company culture. Don’t be caught off-guard – be prepared!