When interviewing for executive roles, you can typically expect a few rounds of interviews. Each round usually differs in terms of the interview focus, the types of questions asked and the people asking the questions. So if you’ve been invited to attend a first round interview, how should you prepare?
Ask what to expect
A good way to get your bearings is to ask the person inviting you to the interview what to expect. Who will be interviewing you? Are there multiple interviews in the process? What is the focus of this interview? Is there anything the interviewers are especially interested in? Asking these types of questions can help you to gauge the focus of the interview and give you a better idea of how to invest your preparation time.
Rehearse the basics
There are certain things you can be pretty sure you will be asked in any job interview. Why are you interested in this role? What do you know about the organisation? What are your skills, experience, strengths or weaknesses? Interviewing for an executive position is no different – you still need to answer the basics well. Take a little time to think about what you want to say. Rehearse your responses out loud. Maybe ask for feedback from a trusted friend. Feeling confident about the basics will help to set you up for a positive interview, whatever the outcome.
Review the position description
Carefully reviewing the position description before your interview is important for two reasons. First, being familiar with the requirements of the role can help you to answer questions better. Think about how you can link your skills and experience to those requirements. How can you demonstrate the value that you could bring to the position? Secondly, reading the position description should also generate your own questions to ask in the interview. For these reasons, if you’re at the interview stage and haven’t seen a position description yet, it would probably be a good time to ask for one.
Consider your questions
Interviews are not a one way process, so you should come prepared with your own questions about the opportunity you’ve applied for. It might be details about a particular aspect of the role. Perhaps you want to know more about the organisation’s culture. Maybe some information about the team or direct reports would be helpful. You don’t need to ask everything in a first round interview. However, some thoughtful questions can demonstrate your interest in the role and the answers may provide you with more information for assessing whether the opportunity is right for you.
Plan a compelling finish
You want to leave your interviewers with a positive impression. One way to do that is to have a strong finish in mind before you start. Think about what you most want to emphasise to the people interviewing you. What do you want them to remember? Recap your relevant skills and experience. Highlight your strengths. Reaffirm your interest in the role. Regardless of how the rest of the interview went, be sure you finish well.
Interviewing is an important skill that will hold you in good stead throughout your career. Whether you are furthering your executive career or looking to break into your first executive role, preparation is key. Even if you are not successful in securing the role, solid preparation and strong interview skills can make a good impression and possibly lead to future opportunities.