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5 Little-Known Executive Job Interview Tips

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Preparing for a job interview can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially when it's for an executive position. Preparing for an executive job requires a different mindset, strategy, and even a different vernacular than what you may have experienced before when interviewing for previous positions. Using the same interview skills that got you to your current career level may not be sufficient to land you the executive positions you desire; as the saying goes, "what got you here, won't get you there."

In this article, you'll learn five key strategies to effectively prepare for your executive role. The strategies are based on the five biggest mistakes that executives tend to make during their preparation process. You'll not only learn what these mistakes are, but also what to do instead to help you stand out from the competition.

Mistake 1: Googling Common Interview Questions to Script Out the Answers

Are you guilty of scripting out answers to common interview questions? If so, you're not alone. People often Google common interview questions and script out their answers, attempting to memorize them for the actual interview. However, this approach may be doing you more harm than good. While it may seem like a good idea to prepare for every possible question, the truth is that there are no common interview questions when it comes to executive-level positions.

Instead of trying to memorize scripts, focus on understanding why you want to work for this company and how you can solve their problems. The key to success at the executive level is your ability to communicate, influence, persuade, and have diplomacy over your team members. These are qualities that cannot be memorized or scripted, but rather must be demonstrated in the moment.

So, instead of panicking and worrying about forgetting your pre-written answers, approach the interview with a clear mind and be ready to think on your feet. Remember, the interviewer is trying to determine if you are the right fit for the company, and your ability to communicate and lead will be what sets you apart from other candidates.

Mistake 2: Talking About Proficiency in Technical Skills

One of the biggest mistakes that aspiring executives seeking high-level positions make is focusing solely or predominantly on their technical skills. Success at the executive level demands the ability to communicate, self-govern, persuade, influence, and demonstrate diplomacy. To excel in these job interviews, approach the preparation in a different way, moving away from technical skills and focusing on how you plan to represent the company in the business function of interest.

Prepare a framework that outlines how you will lead, decide the strategic direction, and how you will represent the company in different scenarios. Although you may not be asked explicitly how you plan to represent the company during the interview, having a clear plan in place will help you stand out from other candidates and show up as a confident leader. This approach will enable you to highlight your strengths as a leader and demonstrate your value to the company beyond your technical skills.

Mistake 3: Paraphrasing Accomplishments on the Resume

When it comes to landing an executive job, simply paraphrasing accomplishments from your resume may not be enough. In fact, this approach can create objections in the interviewer's mind. While sharing achievements is important, it's essential to share the thought process behind them.

By sharing the principles you've applied throughout your career path, you reveal your unique understanding of why you were successful. Principles work across disciplines and domains, and when you articulate them, you demonstrate your ability to apply them effectively. Instead of focusing on what you've accomplished, share how you achieved success. This demonstrates that you have the mindset required for an executive position and that you understand the principles that underpin success.

By sharing your approach, you show that you have the potential to excel in a new environment, regardless of the specific resources or marketplaces involved. So, when preparing for an executive job interview, be sure to showcase your thought process and the principles that have led to your success.

Mistake 4: Asking What It Takes to Succeed in the New Position

In a job interview, asking what it takes to succeed in the role is a popular question that is recommended if the interviewer invites questions at the end of the interview.. While the question of what it takes to succeed may be suitable for interviews for more junior roles, it is a mistake when applying for an executive position. At the executive level, the interviewer expects you to already know what it takes to succeed and what the expectations are for the role. Asking such a question can create objections in the interviewer's mind on your experience and capacity as an independent thought leader.

Instead, it is better to ask questions that demonstrate your wisdom and depth of knowledge in the field. If you can learn to ask questions that demonstrate your unique wisdom and experience, then you can make a strong impression on the interviewer. For example, you could ask about the company's strategic plan, its long-term goals, or the challenges it is currently facing. Such questions demonstrate your understanding of the company and your ability to think strategically.

Ultimately, the key to a successful job interview is to demonstrate your expertise and show how you can add value to the company.

Mistake 5: Giving the Play-By-Play When Answering Questions

The last biggest mistake executives make when answering interview questions is giving a play-by-play account of their actions. This approach may be appropriate for junior-level positions where the interviewer wants to know what you did, but it is not the right way to make a solid first leadership impression.

Instead of recapping the details of your actions, it would be more advantageous to share a proprietary framework that demonstrates a unique way of operating. At the executive level, you will be required to operate at higher levels than you have before, and you will face challenges that go beyond your technical skill set. Revealing your frameworks shows your interviewer how you lead and fit into the organization's leadership structure.

A framework could be something as simple as a set of guiding principles or a more complex system that you have developed over time. By sharing your proprietary framework, you are highlighting your strengths, unique value proposition, and showcasing your ability to operate at the executive level.

Preparing for an executive job interview requires a different approach than that of preparing for other positions. These are the five biggest mistakes executives tend to make during their preparation process and how to overcome each one of them. By avoiding these mistakes, you can prepare effectively for job interviews and demonstrate your expertise and value to the company to rise above the competition.

Now that we’ve gained knowledge through reading, we will move on to applying what we’ve learned. You can learn how to put these principles into practice in my executive coaching program, in which I introduce you to a powerful process for self- and career development. Taking a more skilled version of yourself to your interviews leads to career fulfillment for growth-oriented executives. The course is designed to help you master your mind, develop deeper insights, improve your communication skills, and grow professionally.

Get in touch HERE if you would like to learn how my methodology can help you reach your career goals.

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© Mastery Insights Inc. All Rights Reserved