Part 2: How to Prepare for an Interview with an Executive

posted in: Career, interview, job search | 0

By Angela Loëb

Yesterday, in Part 1 of How to Prepare for an Interview with an Executive, we discussed the general mindset of executives and the perspective they’ll have when they’re interviewing you for a position with their organization.  Sometimes this level of interview is called a “stamp of approval” interview, which means that the executive is meeting with you to either approve of the candidate chose or exercise veto power.  And that means that you still need to impress this person.

Below are some of the typical questions you might get from an executive during your interview.  I’ve also provided insight into the reasoning behind each question along with effective answers and/or suggested  approaches to the topic being addressed by each question.

Tell me about yourself.
The classic icebreaker.  You don’t want to give the interviewer your whole life story, and stay away from personal information like how you’re recently divorced or that you have two kids and a dog.  Instead, focus on the skills and achievements you gained throughout your work history which relate to the position you’re interviewing for.  Walk the interviewer through your resume, hitting the relevant highlights of your previous positions and academic degrees and/or training.
Variations include:

Tell me about your last job.  To learn about your previous role, knowledge level and if in alignment for this step in your career.

Tell me about your career so far.
  To see patterns and themes – as well as the above.

How did your last job fit into the overall business?
  Definitely a strategic question. Variation of the above.  Also to see what your strategic understanding is.

Tell me about your ideal job.
Looking for key motivations and seeing if you fit into their culture.  Best way to prepare is to know what your ideal tangibles and intangibles are… and to have done what you can to learn what their culture/company provides that is a fit to that.

What will you bring to the job or company if we hire you?
To see if you understand what’s needed in the role and how to make it happen.  You would relate your strengths and capabilities to the priorities of the job function and to the aims and priorities of the organization.

Tell me about the culture at your last employer.
 Of course, you want to keep it positive.  No blaming or badmouthing former employers, colleagues or managers.  This question actually serves two purposes… to see how you interpret and explain company culture and to see if you have the maturity to keep it positive.

What personal goals do you have, and how are you going about achieving them?
You should show that you’ve thought about this question before and that you are planning and setting goals for the future.  Mention a personal/professional development book you are reading, that you are planning to take a class or intend to earn a certification, if appropriate.  On the other hand, you should also show that you are flexible with your goals because it’s impossible to predict the future.  Include in your answer that the important thing to you is that you learn, develop and take advantage of opportunities as they come along.

Another, more popular, variation of the question above:  Where do you want to be in 2, 5, 10 years time?
This is such a personalized answer.  It depends on how tangible you want to get.  A possible big-picture, intangible answer might be:
“I’ve truly enjoyed my role in the ________ field and intend to continue on this course.  Wherever my career takes me over the years, I know I will want to make a more significant contribution to the organization.  In the years to come, I plan to have developed new skills and abilities. To have become better qualified in whatever way suits the situation and opportunities I have. To be well-regarded by my peers and respected by my managers as someone continues to contribute meaningfully to the bottom line and to the organization’s stakeholders.”

Why do you want this job?
Say what you like about the company and its positive reputation in the marketplace (if applicable), and say why and how the company/job matches up to your ideal.

Why should we hire you?
You need to know your strengths and how you fit into their plans and culture.

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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