Increasingly, discerning employers are hiring talent with shared values and vision.
Similarly, job seekers are more likely to both search for and accept positions with companies that offer opportunities aligned with their ideals.
Hiring for culture is old hat. Purpose is the new watchword.
And the contemporary interview approach is much more sophisticated than dressing smart and arriving on time. For senior hires, particularly, preparation really is power.
Here are 5 tips to help you impress at interview:
1. Do your research
This is the most fundamental element of interview planning. And the more senior you are, the more research you should do.
Understanding what the company you’re interviewing for does, is the entry point. But learning how they stack up against their competitors, their social and environmental representation, commercial operations and cultural influences, for example, will allow you to ask questions with insight, depth and influence.
“I recently read that you have a strong carbon emissions plan for the next 5 years, what successes have you had with keeping this on track?”
“How has the recent funding round positively affected your area of the business?”
Where possible, work with your recruitment consultancy to gain a rounded understanding of the organisation. A good recruiter will know the company’s key individuals, culture, financials, investors, key historic events and other useful information.
Make the most of digital reference points to help identity authority information. LinkedIn, trade press, social media and company review website, Glassdoor, offer robust resource.
When it comes to interview questions, differentiate yourself by making them genuinely intuitive and appealing. Consider how many candidates might be seeking the same job and then imagine how many duplicate questions the hiring managers could hear.
Make your questions interesting and thoughtful. And full of purpose.
2. Gem your current affairs
You shouldn’t be satisfied limiting your interview preparation to the company itself.
Increasingly, employers are searching for individuals with multifarious awareness; knowledge to balance technical experience and enlighten a siloed environment. So, to identify those with a broadened education, questions pertinent to events outside the role you’re interviewing for will likely form part of the education process.
It is important to position yourself highly by being conversant with the emerging issues in the career you are interested in.
Whether you watch the news, catch up on-demand, investigate the internet or pour over the papers, familiarising yourself with worldly topics will allow you to confidently answer a surprise inquisition, challenge a point and share stories that will help develop an empathetic relationship.
Of course, it works the other way too. Initiating current affairs conversation highlights intelligence and signals an inquisitive mind. And these are strong leadership traits increasingly sought after for senior positions.
3. Prepare for the questions
When hiring for senior positions, most companies ask probing questions that require reflection on the past, focus on the present and envision the future.
Consider the following possible questions:
“How do you explain the success you’ve had in your career?”
“Why do you want to be part of the environment industry?”
“How would you mobilise your strengths if this organisation were to hire you?”
When answering questions like these, you should be authoritative, informative and succinct.
For senior roles, behavioural questions requiring storytelling answers are also common. Examples might be:
“Describe a situation where you were able to use persuasion to convince someone to see things your way.”
“Describe a time when you were faced with a stressful business situation that required coping and resilience.”
“Give me a specific example of a time when you used judgement, evidence and logic to solve a business problem.”
As with any questions, always try and back up evidentially. Do not leave the interviewer guessing.
4. Sell the future
Empathy: The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
In an executive-level interview, getting the interviewer enthusiastic about your achievements to date is half the battle; you’ll also need them to feel excited about what you will do for them.
Once you’re done speaking about the past, try and balance it up with a discussion around the future.
Talk about how you would help them succeed. Discuss their goals and priorities and how your experience fits. Share ideas. Show you have a vision for what you could accomplish together – with you in the role.
Discussing the future is a fantastic selling mechanism and will consciously draw them into considering the idea of hiring you.
Some empathetic and future onlooking questions might be:
“What are the most important milestones or yardsticks by which this organisation will evaluate an executive’s performance in this position?”
“What leadership style would never work here?”
“What’s it like to work at the company? How would you describe the culture and environment?”
5. Closing the deal
This is the final test.
Too many candidates leave the interview without any idea of how they’ve been perceived, to what degree they’ve fared or what the next steps of the process are.
Not only should closing off the meeting be a prerequisite – it’s expected and desired.
So, before you consider the interview concluded, here’s a checklist of points to mention:
How do they think you got on?
What did they enjoy most about the interview?
Was there anything you said that impressed them most?
Do they have any concerns?
You don’t want to leave with anything unanswered, so did they have any final questions?
What is the next step in the interview process?
How many other candidates are they seeing?
You should end the interview with a sincere thank you for their time and for sharing information.
And just before leaving, reinforce one pertinent point you know they liked and hope you’ll hear from them very soon.
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We work differently in the structures, systems and processes we use. That makes us more flexible and responsive – giving you faster access to higher-quality leadership and commercial talent, data-backed market intelligence and transparent progress reporting across executive search, key hires and people solutions.