20 Interview Questions to Ask Executive Candidates and What You'll Learn from Their Answers


We asked executive candidates what questions the companies they interviewed with SHOULD have asked. Here's what they told us.

You can learn a lot from a resume. But what you really want to know from an executive interview is how the candidate will perform in YOUR organization. Your interview questions for executive candidates, therefore, should lead the candidate into a discussion that reveals more about the person, leadership abilities and cultural fit.

What questions are those? We took advice from some of the executive candidates we’ve placed through the years to develop a list of questions a prospective employer SHOULD be asking. Because the resume and references give you insight into job qualifications and career history. But you also need to know what type of leader you’re getting, too.

These are their 20 favorites and what each interview question reveals about an executive candidate:

  1. Have you thought about leaving your present position before? If yes, what held you back?
    What you’ll learn: Values and how motivated your candidate is to find a new opportunity
  2. If you had a choice of any job and any company, where would you go?
    What you’ll learn: Personality, other interests and creativity
  3. What makes you effective?
    What you’ll learn: Work style and whether it complements your company’s culture
  4. Describe the biggest change you’ve ever dealt with. How did you adapt?
    What you’ll learn: Whether they have the experience to take on a stressful role
  5. Think back to the best partner or supervisor you’ve ever worked with: what did you like about the person’s management style?
    What you’ll learn: The leadership skills your candidate strives for
  6. In what areas would you like to further develop yourself?
    What you’ll learn: Potential for growth within your organization
  7. What types of decisions are the most difficult for you to make? Why?
    What you’ll learn: Weaknesses that may affect the role
  8. What three things about your last role gave you the most satisfaction?
    What you’ll learn: Values that the candidate will bring with them to this role, too
  9. How did you sell a new idea to your management team (describe in detail) and what was the result?
    What you’ll learn: Leadership abilities and interaction skills
  10. How do you keep your team focused?
    What you’ll learn: Motivational and leadership personality
  11. How do you influence and sell coworkers?
    What you’ll learn: Ability to manage and/or influence laterally
  12. Describe a time when your supervisor criticized your work.
    What you’ll learn: Reactions to perceived missteps and/or failures
  13. What have you done to improve your verbal communication skills?
    What you’ll learn: Verbal communication skills
  14. What are you doing to improve your listening skills?
    What you’ll learn: Whether they actively work to respond to other people meaningfully
  15. How would you describe what WE do?
    What you’ll learn: Depth of understanding of your company’s mission
  16. What recurring problem did you have in a previous (or your current) role that you wanted to resolve but didn’t? Why not?
    What you’ll learn: Goals, potential weaknesses and possible motivation for role change
  17. Describe the toughest decision you ever had to make at work.
    What you’ll learn: If they have the experience necessary to face the challenges of this role
  18. What support do you feel would be necessary for both you and the company to be successful?
    What you’ll learn: Whether expectations and requirements match resources available to the company
  19. What’s the most interesting thing about you that isn’t on your resume?
    What you’ll learn: Personal values and other interests
  20. Describe yourself in one word.
    What you’ll learn: The candidate’s strength and/or perception of self
Category: Articles | Life Sciences

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