15 Job Interview Tips For Executive-Level Positions – CV Nation

15 Job Interview Tips For Executive-Level Positions

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Are you ready to apply for a C-suite level position but aren’t sure what to expect regarding the interview?

Or perhaps you have been holding the same high-level position for a while and need to brush up on your interview skills?

Regardless of your situation, preparing for an interview is critical if you want to improve your chances of landing your next job. Yet, with all the information available online, understanding exactly what you need to do to boost your odds of acing your interview can be challenging.

That’s why we’ve done the groundwork for you.

Here are 15 tips to succeed in your next executive job interview and impress your prospective employers.

1. Do Your Research

Whether you’re interviewing with a recruiter, a HR person, or the CEO of an organization, you need to do your research. Research can make the difference between an average interview and standing out from other applicants.

Start by Googling the company and reading everything you can find about it. From the ‘’about us’’ page to press releases and news websites, you should spend an extensive amount of time scouring the internet and gathering information.

You can also browse websites such as Data.com, as they’ll provide you with valuable insights into the company or organization.

  • Where does the company sits in the market?
  • What are the different products or services they offer?
  • Where the competition is beating them
  • What are their weaknesses?
  • How do they distribute their products?
  • What's their mission?

Like with any other meeting, first impressions count, and this high-level information is precisely what will make you stand out from the crowd. It’ll help you establish trust with the interviewer, and show you have a real interest in the company and understand the organization’s underlying values.

Plus, at an executive level, nothing is worse than asking a question you could have found the answer to on your own.

As a bonus tip, research the person who will be interviewing you too. They’ll be pleasantly surprised when you tell them that you’re impressed with their career achievements.

2. Practice Your Storytelling

As an applicant for an executive position, you need to sell yourself. And while your skills and experience are critical, knowing how to tell them in a compelling way is equally important.

The same way people buy stories rather than products, interviewers want you to take them on a journey into your career, get to know the real you, and understand how you can be an asset to their organization. This means that you should spend time crafting your story and learn how to talk about your past experiences, relevant accomplishments, and leadership skills in an engaging way.

Also, as a leader, you’re expected to have done your research and developed a vision for the company. So, make sure to always link whatever past experiences you’ve had to the company you’re interviewing for.

Explain how your expertise and experiences can help the organization thrive even more and how you can inspire teams and foster collaboration.

3. Sequence Your Story

As a junior executive, you might tell your story from the bottom up. However, as a CEO, COO, or Senior Manager, you should always start with your most recent experience and work your way down. Note that you don't need to go all the way to your humble beginnings.

For each position you’re discussing, speak at the macro level. Explain the goals, what strategy you adopted, and what impact your team’s work made. Avoid getting bogged down in the details, and always highlight the positive impact you had on the company through each role.

4. Use The Star Methodology

Interviewers will most likely ask behavioural questions to see how you react in specific situations.

So, to be prepared and formulate well-rounded answers, list your 10 or 20 best career achievements and develop a compelling story for each of them using the ‘’STAR’’ methodology as follows :

Situation: Explain the situation in one sentence. For instance, ‘’I was asked to create a new Fintech team’’.

Task: Craft a quick summary of what you had to do, the goal, and the key steps you took towards it.

Action: This part is mainly about the challenges you encountered and how you overcame them.

Results: Explain what the outcomes were. Also, don’t hesitate to share your failures as long as you can highlight what you learned from them and how you could have done better.

As mentioned previously, mastering the art of storytelling is one of the most effective ways to succeed at an interview.

5. Hone Your Communication Skills

The definition of communication entails exchanging information. Therefore, communication implies a two-way process; someone talks, and the other person listens.

During an interview, you need to have polished communication and express yourself concisely and clearly. But you also need to show that you’re a good listener and can read verbal and behavioural cues.

6. Prepare Some Questions

Now, this step is often overlooked by candidates regardless of the position they’re applying for.

You’ve done your research about the company, the team, and the role. You’ve crafted compelling answers for each of your career achievements, and you’re pretty confident that you can answer anything.

But what about the 'do you have any questions’ question?

Preparing some well-thought-out, in-depth questions about the company, the role, or the team will successfully convey your interest in the role and send a positive signal. Plus, it will also help you evaluate whether the company is the right fit for you. After all, the interview process is a two-way street.

Try to prepare a few questions for each of the areas you’re evaluating.

And if all of your questions have been answered during the interview, you can always say something along the lines of ‘the discussion was very detailed and insightful and I think I have a really good understanding of the team, the organization, and the role. However, can I come back to you if I think of any other questions?’.

7. Challenge The Interviewer

The goal of an interview isn’t just for companies to find the right candidate. It’s also for candidates to find the right company. Rather than simply answering questions, strive to challenge the interviewers. You could challenge the direction the company is going or the products they currently have.

Don’t hesitate to use what you’ve read in the news, such as failed product launches or low stock prices, and ask them about it.

They should sell you on working there too.

Interviewers typically look for driven and strong-minded executives to lead a team. If you’re avoiding the tough questions or aren’t challenging them, they might perceive you as too weak for the job.

8. Talk About The Company’s Future

If you spend most of the interview talking about your past experiences, the interview is probably not going to be successful for you.


Because when you’re talking about the past, the interviewer is in evaluation mode. They’re assessing your behaviour, the way you talk, your skills, and essentially asking questions you’re answering.

What you want as a senior manager with a vision, is to shift the interview into a discussion.

And to do so, you need to talk about your vision for the company and how, as a leader, you can use your experience and skills to help the business move forward. This way, the interviewer will be imagining what it’d be like to have you leading a team or a department rather than evaluating you.

9. Show How You Lead By Example

All of the situations, results, and experiences you mention during the interview should show the interviewer how you achieved your goals by leading by example.

You need to show how you inspired your teams, empowered them, and encouraged them to perform at their best.

Your stories should also demonstrate how you contributed to developing other leaders. After all, good leaders build followers, whereas great leaders build great leaders.

10. Your Attire Matters

If you’re interviewing for a senior management position, dress the part. A polished and elegant look will immediately show interviewers you’re serious about the role.

Sure, some companies have a smart casual dress code, but if you’re unsure, always aim to dress better than the person interviewing you.

11. Use Positive Talk

Everything you mention during the interview should be in a positive light. For instance, if you’re explaining why you’ve left your previous company, make sure to do so in a positive way.

Badmouthing your previous companies or teams is never a good look.

Instead, explain what you’ve learned from the hurdles you’ve encountered in your previous companies and how you can apply these learnings to your new company (remember to always circle back to talking about the company’s future).

No matter how difficult certain situations might have been in your life, always highlight the positive that came out of it. This will show your ability to overcome challenges and instil a positive culture in your team.

This tip is important because positive leaders make happy teams, and happy teams are more productive.

12. Prepare And Practice

All of the points above lead to this particular point.

All the information you’ve gathered about the company, and all the preparation you’ve done to talk about your past experiences, career achievements, and the questions you’ve prepared will help enhance your chances of performing well during the interview.

Preparation is key in building confidence before an interview. Being prepared will help avoid being taken by surprise and allow you to formulate your answer in a compelling way.

It will also enable you to lead the interview to where you want it to go and shift it into a conversation instead of being subjected to question after question and second-guessing everything you say.

13. Show Your Passion For The Role And The Company

Your enthusiasm for the job and organization needs to shine during the interview. While listening to your answers, interviewers should see your passion for the role and feel your excitement.

Your voice, your body language and your posture all tell a story.

So, use all of these cues to show them you’re aligned with the company values. And always share how you can make a difference in an engaging way.

14. Build Rapport

The first few minutes of the interview are critical to building rapport.

Your interviewer will start making an impression of you immediately and before you start talking. Therefore, the way you smile and behave in the first few minutes can make or break an interview.

The rest of the interview is equally as important. So, strive to be a great conversationalist and show the interviewer you’re interested in what they do and how they got where they are.

Here are some tips to help you engage with an interviewer within the first few seconds and build rapport during the interview:

  • If you know someone who knows them, open up by telling them how highly this person spoke of them and how much you were looking forward to meeting them.
  • If you don’t have any referrals, research the interviewer’s background and subtly open up with something that caught your attention while doing so. Compliment them on their reputation in the industry. They’ll see you’ve done your research and will be flattered that you’re interested in their background.
  • Subtly mirror the interviewer’s body language as behavioural research has shown mirroring helps build
  • Be genuine.
  • Use the company name during the interview.
  • Carefully listen to what the interviewers say and reformulate to show you’ve listened and understood.
  • Keep the conversation industry or job-related and avoid talking about religion or politics.
  • Follow up with the interviewer.
15. Provide Relevant References

As a C-level executive, you’ll likely be asked to provide between four to six references. The hiring company will use them to assess how well you’d fit into the organization. So, make sure to provide trusted references that are relevant to the job requirements.

Some of the key questions references might be asked include:

  • What are the three words that come to mind when you think of the candidate?
  • How would you define the candidate’s leadership style?
  • How would you describe the candidate’s ability to manage up, down, and across a company?
  • How well does the candidate handle stressful situations?
  • What kind of company culture do you think fits the candidate best?
Need Help Designing Your CV To Land An Interview For Your Dream Executive Job?

While this article is a great guide to help you ace a Senior Manager or C-suite executive interview, you can’t expect to land an interview if your resume isn’t perfect. An executive-level resume should be professional and compelling.

Now, writing a professional, clear, well-structured, and eye-catching resume requires specific expertise.

At CV Nation, we specialize in crafting the perfect resume for our clients to help them land their dream job in no time. Our experienced team will tailor your resume to each high-level job you’re aiming for and ensure it grabs recruiters, HR, or the hiring managers’ attention.

And, if you’ve already created your resume, you can also use our proofreading services to make sure that it’s flawless.

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