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Oct 11, 2018

How to Prepare for an Executive-Level Interview

Preparing for an interview can be nerve-wracking, especially when it’s for an upper-level position like an executive. But the key to acing the interview is doing the proper preparations. It can also be helpful to keep in mind that the interview is also a chance for you to ensure the job is a good fit for you.

As you work to prepare for an executive-level interview, here are some key things to do to ensure success.

Do Your Research

The first step in preparing for a job interview is to do some research on everything from the industry the company operates in, to recent news from the company. Here are five steps you should take in your research before an executive-level interview. As you walk through these steps, take some basic notes that you can review right before your interview to be sure you’re well prepared.

1. Learn about the industry

This one is especially true if you’re entering a new industry, such as moving from legal to insurance. Take some time to read up on common issues the industry faces, how the company fits into the competitive marketplace, what customers care about when choosing to purchase a product or service in the industry, etc.

You’ll want to be able to show that you can learn about a new topic easily and have a strong grasp on the industry.

2. Know the company

Now that you understand the industry, it’s time to get to know the company itself. What are the key market differentiators? What are their greatest successes and where do they have room to improve?

Start by reading the company website to get a good idea of how they view themselves and what their company culture is all about. Read up on the other executives at the company on the corporate website or from other bios across the web. You’ll likely interview with these individuals so take your time to get to know all you can about them to avoid serious surprises in the interview.

3. Understand the salary range for your area

One of the questions you may be asked is what your required salary is. Depending on whether the move is lateral for you or completely new, you might need some insights to help you answer this question.

A few great websites for completing this research are salary.com, Glassdoor and Indeed. You might even try looking up the job you’re interviewing for on all three websites to cross compare. This will give you more data and insights to walk into your interview with so you’re as prepared as possible.

4. See what others say about working for the company

You can view reviews of what others say about the company on websites like Glassdoor. You may also want to review LinkedIn profiles for employees at the company, especially if you’ll be managing employees.

Just be aware that LinkedIn does show other members that you’re viewing their profiles unless you have your profile hidden. If you’d like to set your profile to anonymous, follow these guidelines.

5. Read recent news about the company

Go to Google News and do a search for the company. This will show you recent news mentions of the company. If it’s a stock company, be sure to know what investor confidence looks like and whether stocks are on the rise or decline. This will tell you a lot about how successful the company is currently.

Within the news, learn what people are saying about other executives at the company and if there have been recent product launches or other news releases of note.

Leverage Your Network

The old saying of “it’s all in who you know” is still true today. Learn who you know at the company to get an insider’s view. Start with LinkedIn. It can be beneficial to even see your secondary connections at the company, which are people who have a shared connection with you. By talking with others about the company and having them put in a good word for you, you can improve your chances of landing the job.

Outside of just leveraging your network for contacts at the company, you can also leverage your network to get to know the industry. If you have a connection at a competitor, it can be helpful to discuss the industry with them and their views on the company you’re interview at.

If you haven’t done so already, you’ll also want to gather letters of recommendation from pervious managers to showcase your work. Be sure these individuals know that you’re interviewing for the position in case the employer chooses to contact them. 

Read the Job Description

The job description can provide you a sort of outline of what to expect in the interview. You should be prepared to talk about situations or experiences where you have filled the roles and duties explained in the job description. To help you prepare, read this article on using the job description as your secret weapon to ace your interview.

The key to this phase is to ensure nothing comes as a surprise to you. You don’t want to be asked about one of the job responsibilities and have nothing prepared to showcase your skills.

Understand the Common Interview Techniques

There are three types of questions you’re likely to encounter in your interview:

  • Behavioral: this type of interview question focuses on how you’ve handled similar situations before to assess your skills and abilities. You can use the STAR interview technique to answer these questions. This includes setting up the situation, the task to be completed, the action you took and the result that came from your action.
  • Situational: this question type sets up a possible situation you’ll encounter and asks you how you would respond to it. Discuss what actions you would take or how you would deal with an employee situation. This question shows your troubleshooting skills and ability to think on your feet.
  • Topgrading: is an interview technique for employers to understand how a candidate thinks, what they value and their overall personality. It asks open-ended questions not necessarily related to the job, such as “what are your greatest failures and accomplishments.” By asking more open-ended questions like this, they can learn more about you as a person. Learn more about topgrading interview questions.

For further preparation, read our blog post on 10 Interview Questions to Ask Executives. As you prepare for your interview, think through any additional questions you have about the role and responsibilities. Go prepared with questions to ensure this role is right for you. The more prepared you are, the more likely you are to ace an executive-level interview.

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