Level-Up Your Career: How to Land that Executive Job
Are you gearing up to apply for an executive role? These days, being a strong candidate is not enough. Having great on-paper experience will get your foot in the door, but a sub-standard interview will kill the opportunity faster than you can say “thanks, but no thanks”, no matter how perfect you are for the job.
So, interviews matter, perhaps more than they should. According to a recent Forbes article, 33% of hiring managers decide whether they want to hire a candidate within the first 90 seconds of their interview – no pressure then.
Feeling nervous yet? No need as Growth Tribe’s Leadership crew is here to make sure you NAIL your interview. Let’s get started, shall we?
Be mindful that priorities have shifted
The pandemic has caused a seismic shift in corporate thinking and organisational priorities, something you MUST consider when developing an interview strategy. Employers now place greater importance on skills and competencies that facilitate agility and the ability to be anti-fragile in the face of adversity.
Many companies are still reeling from the adverse effects of COVID-19, scrambling to come back stronger than they were before. If an organisation plays their cards right, they might be able to re-shuffle themselves to the top of the pack as things fall back into place. This is anti-fragile thinking on a company-wide scale. To get the job, you must position yourself as indispensable to this process.
Keep in mind that the people interviewing you may not have a clear vision of exactly what they need and are waiting for the right person to show them. Or, they have identified a way forward and are looking for someone who agrees with them. Either way, going in with a super-shiny resume and a winning smile isn’t going to cut the mustard.
Focus on your employer’s current challenges
Think of your interview as a sales meeting with a prospective client or customer. The only difference is that you’re not selling a product or service you're selling yourself.
To get your interviewer to "buy-in" you need to frame yourself as the all-singing, all-dancing solution to their current challenges – which means you’ll need to know what these are.
To get you started, here are two obvious challenges affecting most companies today:
- Maintaining performance with a remote workforce
- Recovering from the economic impact of COVID-19
Now that you’ve identified these challenges, you can pitch yourself as a solution. Let’s see how this might work with the above examples.
🚨Challenge: Maintaining performance with a remote workforce
✅ Solution: A senior manager with remote leadership skills
On a basic level, this will mean being adept with remote working technology. Do your research - if you’re applying for an external position, make sure you know which systems they use to facilitate remote work. If you think there is a flaw in their current set up tell them. But only if you can present a viable solution.
Beyond this, you will need to present yourself as a strong motivator – as it takes more to inspire through a screen than it does in person – and an excellent communicator. You will also need discipline, attention to detail, and keen organisational skills.
🚨Challenge: Recovering from the impact of COVID-19
✅ Solution: An agile executive with the ability to innovate
Senior professionals must respond to challenges with agility and think outside the box to seize opportunities and take the company forward. This is especially true since the unwelcome shake-up most companies have experienced as a result of the pandemic.
Approach your interview with an array of innovation-demonstrating examples up your sleeve. If you can explain how you operate without using the word “innovation” all the better, this will show your interviewers that you’re not just throwing around buzzwords. Instead, choose phraseology like:
- I was able to predict... (a trend, or shift)
- I identified... (new markets or opportunities)
- I created... (a new strategy or system)
- I spearheaded... (a new project, programme or initiative)
Most importantly, in all these examples, you must be able to explain:
- The problem or growth opportunity
- Your thought process and strategy
- How and why you chose that specific course of action
- What were the specific, measurable results
Ask the right questions, at the right time
There may be opportunities to ask questions throughout the interview. While you shouldn’t shy away from this if relevant questions pop up, be extremely careful not to side-track the process with questions that do nothing to serve your case.
You will almost certainly have the chance to ask questions at the end of the interview. So make the most of this when the time comes. But (and this is a BIG but) avoid asking questions for the sake of it, especially if you have thus far made a great impression.
Any questions you ask should subtly reinforce your suitability for the role. You might, for example:
- Demonstrate critical thinking by asking why they do something a certain way if you think there are better approaches (e.g. Is there a reason you haven’t yet branched out into ~insert potentially lucrative market~?)
- Show your knowledge of their organisation and industry (e.g. I read about the upcoming merger with ~insert company~, what staff re-training strategies do you have in place to facilitate this?)
- Highlight one of your skills or achievements (e.g. I led a team tasked with identifying opportunities for expansion into overseas markets during my time with ~insert company~, what sort of resources do you allocate for prospecting global development avenues?)
Finally, make sure they’re the right fit for you
Okay, so we probably should have opened with this. Nothing will dent your industry credibility like being labelled a time-waster. It is imperative to do your research. And be certain you want the job before putting in an application or attending an interview. Remember, the “perfect fit” scenario works both ways!