Preparing for the executive interview: Director and Vice President level
Executives need to demonstrate superior communication skills. They are accustomed to delivering presentations on their business on a regular basis – but delivering a presentation about oneself for an interview is much different, especially in this COVID era. It is most likely that most if not all your interviews will be remote, via zoom, skype, phone or other means, rather than in-person. The technology issues alone can be distracting and problematic. Often zoom meetings work visually but the audio may experience issues. Solving those problems when you are trying to be “on stage” is daunting. Add to that, you need to make sure that your personal environment where you conduct a meeting or interview looks clean and tidy. It doesn’t have to be completely professional – after all this is your home. Whether you have a dedicated home office or just office space, the surroundings that can be seen on-screen should be neutral or at least, not distracting. Personal accoutrements – family or pet photos, favorite collectible things, etc are fine, and even expected. You just want to make sure that piles of laundry or dirty dishes aren’t displayed in the immediate viewing area.
You should also make sure that family, children and pets will not be distractions during the interview and will not be entering the interview space.
If you go through the entire interview process for a job, it’s very likely that you will go through multiple interviews, including at least one panel or group interview. These can be daunting.
#1 key to having a successful interview is preparation. Reading every word on the company’s web site and their social media profiles is not enough. Research the company, it’s executives, competitors, industry, trends and changes.
If it is publicly traded, there is a wealth of free information available to give good insight into the company and industry health.
If it’s privately held, this is more challenging and may require that you try to seek out and speak to others in the industry to get a pulse on current trends and changes.
#2 Prepare a list of questions that cover several topics. You may not get to ask them all but it’s best to be prepared.
#3 Prepare to create the best 1st impression possible. Create, write and memorize your clear message of who you are and how you like to be known. Whether you call this branding or an elevator pitch or your professional profile. Don’t fail to have this ready to deliver when you initially introduce yourself. Creating a strong 1st impression sets the tone for everything that follows.
Executive interviews will absolutely be behavioral or situational interviews. Study the STAR approach to interviewing. Situation, Task, Actions, Results and Summary.
Identify difficult situations that you had to find solutions for, tough problems you had to fix, broken or bottlenecked processes that needed streamlining.
Pull examples from your experience to address each but don’t get caught in the trap of story-telling or giving lengthy answers. Practice describing each in one or two sentences, if possible. If your interviewers ask for more detail, provide it then.
- Situation – Give 1 statement for the Situation you had to fix.
- Task – Give another for the Task you were given.
- Actions – Explain the Actions you took – this might be a few sentences – or a brief list of bullet-points.
- Results- Your Result should clearly be identified in one sentence, highlighting the benefits and/or successes.
- Summary – this may be a bit longer. If the Result was positive, talk about an award or promotion or other recognition that came out of it. If the Result was negative, give a Summary about the lessons learned. Show that you are adaptable, flexible, took it as an opportunity to grow and learn new things to benefit the company as well as yourself.
You can also Google “star interview method” and you’ll find several sites offering helpful tips.
Good luck and feel free to reach out to us if you’d like more assistance in your search.