I had the opportunity to speak with a senior executive about interviewing and he offered a few tips I would like to pass along to my readers. The tips are not geared for entry-level roles, rather they are focused on positions that require management of a department and/or personnel.
LISTEN: The executive said nothing turns him against a candidate faster than an individual that focuses on talking. When a candidate monopolizes the conversation by sharing all the great accomplishments of her career, the executive sees this as a serious weakness. He likes when people listen to the cues that the search committee and others interviewers are providing. It allows the executive to 1) evaluate if the individual picks up on cues and 2) learn if the candidate is so enthralled by what she has to say that she misses important information.
CONVERSE: Candidates should do their best to get others talking during the interview process. Using a conversational approach to an interview, one has a much greater likelihood to learn and understand the culture of the organization.
– What are some points of pride for XYZ? (allows you to understand what the organization values as important.)
– What are the challenges that XYZ has been addressing this past year? (allows you to discover an area that needs to be addressed but in a less threatening phrasing.)
– Can you share the history of this department? Or – I have seen similar operations who have different reporting structures, would you share with me the genesis of how this department came under your purview? Etc. (provides history of why things are done the way they are at this particular organization.)
– Budget history and staffing model questions are also good to ask. It demonstrates to the executive the candidate is thinking strategically and understands the management/leadership aspects of the role.
MANAGEMENT & LEADERSHIP: The final point the executive drove home was the importance for the candidate to demonstrate the ability to manage the day-to-day operations of the role and provide vision and leadership to a division. Executives need to have both skills in order to be successful in their careers and this is something he always looks for in a hire.
There you have it, some tips from someone who has hired executive level talent as part of his role. Three nuggets to remember when you find yourself in your next interview.