The key to a successful interview in the executive and management space is preparation. Having a great CV is one thing, but the ability to clearly communicate your experience, knowledge and skills under pressure is a talent in itself.
Sitting in the hot seat and answering questions doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Some people thrive under the critical eye of an interviewing panel, while others find the process unbearable. Despite this, interviewing is a skill every corporate professional must master.
Whether you’re climbing the career ladder or re-entering the workforce, here are our top tips for the next time you’re under the spotlight.
Honesty is a virtue
Honesty is non-negotiable when it comes to interviewing for any role. If you lie during the application phase or an interview your dishonesty will be uncovered. It might be early on during your initial reference checks and social media audit or further down the track when you’re taking on more prominent roles.
The same applies if you don’t understand a question or need clarification of a term the interviewer has used. Bluffing to pretend you understand could land you in a sticky situation so just be upfront and ask for clarification. Honesty displays integrity, a core value all employers prize.
It’s also glaringly obvious when people ‘stretch the truth’ by overstating the importance of previous positions or blowing past accomplishments out of proportion. There’s nothing worse than losing your professional credibility because an interviewer has called your bluff, so stick to the facts.
Quantify your professional achievements
Potential employers will want to hear about your professional achievements, as well as your skills, so try to relate some of your key accomplishments back to tangible results, such as financial performance or percentage growth.
As an example, instead of saying: “I managed a team of 45 staff across three regional branches”; try to show some evidence of your achievements by saying: “I managed a team of 45 staff across three regional branches. During this time, I designed and implemented new procedures that resulted in a 13 percent increase (of $390,000) in annual turnover”.
This part of an interview is literally about ‘putting money where your mouth is’ so apply relevant facts and figures to your achievements to highlight your productivity and prove how much value you could bring to the role.
How do you reflect good company culture?
The biggest mistake interviewees can make is regurgitating answers to questions they think people want to hear. Be genuine, show enthusiasm and let your personality, skills and experience do the talking. Company culture is particularly important when recruiting for senior management positions because you might well be the person leading that cultural change. Communicate who you are, speak naturally and have your behavioural-based questions down pat so potential employers can easily get to know you.
Do your research
Most interviews for senior management and executive level roles are completed by a panel or board, so don’t go in with the illusion of a relaxed one-on-one chat over a cup of coffee.
Be prepared to know a lot about the company, research the job, the hiring manager, key staff and have a good understanding of the company’s organisational chart. Any future employer will expect you to have done a lot of preliminary research and might ask you what you thought of the company’s half yearly report, recent media release or product launch.
During interviews for board level positions you might also be asked to do a presentation, rather than a discussion. If this situation arises, you won’t need to know every detail, but you will need to display genuine interest and communicate a base-level understanding of the company and role you are applying for. Additionally, it can be worthwhile having some original ideas for improving or enhancing the business up your sleeve. However, only make suggestions if the interview is going well or you’re prompted by the interviewer.
Take the time to self-reflect
Most importantly, remember that it’s ok to ask questions and seek professional advice. When you’re working in the executive and management space it can be hard to ask for help because you can be perceived as ‘having all the answers’. However, seeking a fresh perspective and taking time for self-reflection can significantly enhance your ability to capitalise on exciting employment opportunities.
Our recruitment specialists are always discreet and can guide you through the interviewing process so you can confidently craft answers to the trickiest questions.
To learn more about our professional recruitment solutions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
The Decipher Team