Moving Your Interview Status Up From Simply Qualified to A-list
Your goal in an interview is to promote your best self, ensuring that you are seen as the strongest candidate in terms of values, culture, competency and motive.
When you are interviewing with a search firm, the very least you want to be achieving is to get on the “someone we will be looking at for other similar searches” list. As a 30 plus year veteran of executive search I’ve been honored with filling hundreds of key senior level vacancies.
Double, triple or even quadruple your executive or managerial value in your next CEO or leadership interview.
In interviewing literally hundreds of management candidates, regardless of the level of seniority, I look for examples from their work that will differentiate them from the rest of the pack.
I do this by asking them to talk about their accomplishments…
- What can you tell me about your strategic leadership/ business development / team building experience? … how did you do it, who was involved, what budget did you have to work with, what happened, what was the outcome?
- I see that a large part of your job involved working effectively with a board of directors, some more difficult than others. Can you tell me about the most challenging working relationship you had with this BOD and how you handled it?
- Reinforcing a strong culture is an important first step in this leadership role. Tell me about how you have achieved this in previous organizations.
We don’t get a chance to do that many things, and every one should be really excellent. Because this is our life. Life is brief, and then you die, you know?
– Steve Jobs
Master These 3 Interview Essentials to Dramatically Increase Your Leadership Value
Step 1: List Your Top Five Leadership Qualities
- mentoring and coaching
- strategic planning
- organizational development
- operational processes
- financial performance
- business development
- team building
- conflict resolution
- relationship management
- project management
- compliance and implementation, etc.
Step 2: List Your Top 3 Accomplishments
Many of us have a hard time focusing on what signifies a significant accomplishment.
Try thinking about times where you were fully engaged in a meaningful aspect of your work, to your favorite job, and then zoom in on some of your proudest moments. This is usually where you are at your best, and will uncover the real stories that highlight your skills and abilities. Write down as many as you can think of.
Tip: Take a walk, mow the lawn, or do something completely different for an hour or so, then come back to your list refreshed and reinspired.
Once you have your brag sheet sort these accomplishments into each of the five top leadership qualities you possess.
Step 3: Get Your Stories in Order
Stories are the best way to engage the interviewer, and can quickly improve the probability that you’ll be called back for a second and third round. Plan a great five minute story around each of your significant accomplishments, including how you have overcome challenges in the workplace. Remember also to tie these stories into one or more of your top five leadership qualities.
You may not get asked to talk about all five of the leadership skills you picked, but being able to concisely illustrate that skill by talking about how you used it effectively to deal with a specific problem or objective – what you did to fix /achieve it, who else you involved, and what the outcome was – will go a long way towards putting you at the top of the candidate call back list.
Bonus: Read this The Five Beats of Successful Storytelling
What to Ask Before the Interview
- How long should I set aside for our discussion?
- Who will be involved in the interviewing and selection process?
What to Ask During and/or Right After Your First Interview
- How much scope is there in terms of decision making?
- Can you tell me about the history of this role within your organization?
- What has the turnover been in this role? With the organization?
- What are the challenges being faced by the organization currently?
- What is the single most important area that needs to be addressed?
- I’m keenly interested in learning more about this role, yet I am currently exploring a number of other opportunities. Can you share with me how the selection process will be moving forward?
BONUS TIP: Power phrases for your resume.
- planning prioritizing and executing complex projects
- delegating empowering and motivating teams
- delivering on time on budget
- providing structure, direction, and feedback up and down the organization
- setting priorities and goals
- collaborating on performance benchmarks
- coaching and mentoring A, B and C level players
- encouraging feedback and creative input
Approach every interview as if it’s your most important interview ever!
Barbara Ashton is President of Ashton & Associates Recruiting, BC’s #1 Executive Search Firm serving Southern Interior and Okanagan employers.
This post has been approved for public release by Barbara Ashton. All certified posts carry this Google Authorship link to Google.