There are three mistakes I see executives making at their job interviews. The common story is that you had your first taste of being an executive within a company that knows you. You were promoted within several years and never had trouble landing the promotion. That felt great when it happened, but recently you’ve been thinking about making an external career move.

You might have the reputation, skills, and experience to qualify for an executive-level job, but first, you need to get past the executive job interview. 

If you’re already an executive, you’d think it would be easy. But these three mistakes might be costing you the job. And it easy to see why it happens.

 

COMMON EXECUTIVE INTERVIEW MISTAKE #1:

YOU TALK BIG VISION BUT SKIM OVER THE DETAILS.

 

 

Why this happens

When you’re in a senior leadership role, you become the “vision person”. You share the vision with employees at staff meetings, with the board during strategic meetings, and with the press. Sometimes you get so great at sharing a vision, you forget to talk about how things get things done. Usually, the details and execution are performed by managers. It was likely your ability to execute that got you promoted into an executive position but your communication style has changed.

What to do about it:

Adapt the way you share stories. Go back to the stories you are proud of that highlight your favorite skills. Dig into the specifics of the stories. Linger in the details of them. Start adding detail to every story you tell until you get that story skill back. (If you’d like guidance on how to find and share story details that matter join The Real Deal Interview Training Program.

 

COMMON EXECUTIVE INTERVIEW MISTAKE #2:

YOU ASK THE SAME QUESTIONS A NEW GRAD WOULD ASK

 

I know you’re busy. And, you’re used to showing up at work and asking smart questions. Sometimes you get prepped in advance, or someone advises you what to ask. But, when an executive leader googles “the best questions to ask at a job interview”, and uses the first result that comes up, you’re hurting yourself. Don’t be that person.

The decision-makers and recruiters that work with executive search have prior experience hiring entry-level positions. If they hear the same language and questions from a new student as they do from you, it lowers your credibility and depth.

Ask questions as if you already have the job. What do you need to know as a VP? Ask strategic and smart questions. Think of it as an investment, it is. If you’re going to join a company and invest your life’s energy into a new role, what do you need to know?

 

COMMON EXECUTIVE INTERVIEW MISTAKE #3:

YOU DROP NAMES INSTEAD OF FACTS

 

 

It’s likely your reputation helped you to land the executive job interview. But when you are there, spend more time letting them know what you can do to help their company instead of who you know.

Your network is a value-add, but if you use other people’s prestige to bolster yourself up, they don’t know what’s awesome about you.

Share stories to help them see what you can make happen, and if you drop a name in there to help, that’s okay. Your work is more important than who you know.

An executive-level interview requires executive-level attention and strategy.

If you want a guide you can trust on how to sound like a qualified and interesting executive, take the Interview Prep Pack. 

 

executive interview training

This interview prep course shows teaches you how to know what questions they’ll ask at the executive interview and how to answer those questions. This course comes with additional training for your friend or partner to assess your interview skills.

Get it here: Nail the Interview Prep Pack

New interview training program in June 2020

Starting in June 2020, I am leading a new interview storytelling program called The Real Deal Interview Training Program that focuses more heavily on story skills than strategy. If you’d like to become a better storyteller overall, join us.

 

real deal interview training

 

 


Kerri Twigg

Career Coach | Job Search Strategist

All author posts