Part 1: How to Prepare for an Interview with an Executive

posted in: Career, interview, job search | 0

By Angela Loëb

A client has been interviewing for a fantastic opportunity that seems to match up well with the definition of her ideal job.  She’s made it through the phone screening with the recruiter. She aced the interview with the hiring manager.  Next up is round 3 with the VP of the division, a gentleman who came up through the ranks and has been with the company for a long time.

She asked me:  “What questions can I expect to be asked; what is the rationale behind each question asked; and can you give me hypothetical answers or best approaches to each?”

Good question!

I often talk about the typical interview questions asked by potential employers but in a more generalized way.  However, there is a distinct difference between what a line manager will ask and what a member of the executive team will ask.  Why?  Because they are coming at things from different perspectives.  Yes, both want to make sure you fit in with the company and the team, but their day-to-day roles in the organization make them seek different information about you to help them decide if you’ll fit.

Just like with any interview preparation, it’s important to research the person who’s going to interview you.  Google him or her to see if you can find some career background information.  For example, my client looked at this VP’s LinkedIn profile and learned that he used to be in the current hiring manager’s role.  I challenged her to go back and look at the dates of when he was promoted… determining how long it’s been since he had a more hands-on role might give her insight to what kind of questions he will ask.

Most VPs are involved in the big-picture since their roles entail communicating and carrying out the executive management team’s strategy to their divisions.  When you interview with a C-level or VP-level manager, it will usually be a conversation focused on your understanding of their company, the industry, your profession and how it all fits together into their strategy and growth as a department and/or organization.  He or she will likely ask you about your personal goals and aspirations and your personal traits.  Depending on how hands-on the executive is will have a bearing on whether he or she will ask you some of the more typical interview questions or whether the questioning will lean toward how you envision your future and your career progression with the organization.

Tomorrow, I’ll share actual interview questions that an executive might ask you during the hiring process and how to answer them effectively.  And, by the way, if you haven’t guessed already, you’ll realize tomorrow that the interviewer at this level will have expected you to have spent some time reflecting so that you “know thyself”!

Angela Loëb is an author, speaker, and owner of InSync Resources. She helps people make successful career transitions through online classes and personalized consulting sessions. For additional programs she co-produced with Jay Markunas, check out the free archives of The Job Search Boot Camp Show and online classes at

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