Executive Level Interviews: 12 Steps to Win the Job

By | August 30, 2019


Welcome, everybody, so great to have you. Today, we’ve got something for the top dogs,
the big boys and girls who are interviewing for those executive-level positions: 12 strategies
to succeed in executive job interviews. But this is not just for the top brass. If you are that senior manager or director
or mid-level resource looking to kick yourself up that ladder, this is great for you. If you’re more of a mid-level or junior resource,
if you could do all 12 of these things that we’re going to talk about today, I guarantee
you will not just win your interview, but you will absolutely crush it, but if you are
an executive, if you’re an executive, you got to go 12 for 12. Let’s roll. Got my note cards here. Number one, it’s about the … I hope I have
number one. I was shuffling these cards before … it’s
about the research. Okay, so what do I mean by research? When you go into your interview at the executive
level, and I don’t care if this is a 10-minute interview with a recruiter or HR person or
you’re meeting the CEO of a company, if your research is not this thick, you’re going to
be cooked. I’m talking 10 K’s and Q’s, eight Q’s, every
press release that you can find. If it’s a private company, you need to get
into Hoovers or some of these others like Data.com that will give you insight into the
organization. Competitive market analysis: Where do they
sit? Where are their holes? Where’s their competition beating them up? What’s their products, their services? How do they go to market? All of that good stuff you need to know before
you get into the interview. Nothing is worse, the biggest mistake you
can make at the executive level is asking a question that you could have otherwise found
the answer to on your own. This is a big, honking deal. This is a big, honking deal. Now, if you’re at the junior level, you want
to understand the company and you want to understand what they do. You’re probably a little bit more focused
on doing your job well, but at the executive level you have to be able to see the complete
picture and where they are and where their opportunities are. And where their opportunities are, so you
got to have the research done. Now, I was trying to show off my artistic
skills here. That’s the world. You need to know how everything fits together. How everything fits together inside the organization
and outside the organization. What do I mean by that? When you come in, and I was talking about
organizationally how are they structured: products, the services, the departments, everything
it takes in order to develop that product, bring it to market, or service, or whatever
it might be. Well, you’ve got to know how all of that stuff
fits together. If you’re at the junior level, you have to
know how to do your job well. You have to know how to sell this product
well, or develop this product, or write the software, or create this marketing campaign,
or whatever it is. But if you are an executive, you have got
to know how all of that fits together, and not only internally within the organization,
how does the baton get handed from one to the other? What are the causes and effects of doing something,
not doing something? How does that organization integrate with
its customers or its partners in the outside world? You have to be able to see the entire picture. That’s very, very important, that your working
knowledge of that organization, its market or its service or its product or whatever
it may be, you have to be able to understand what the entire blueprint looks like. You got to be the general contractor, not
the plumber, so to speak. That’s really important. Number three is everybody that you discuss
should be centered on the company and not the role. So, it’s okay to talk a little bit about what
you’re going to do, but everything that you do, everything that you speak about when you’re
telling your stories about your past or you’re speaking about the company’s future, you want
to make sure that everything that you’re discussing is within the context of the organization. So, when you’re answering questions, when
you’re asking questions, 90% of the discussion should in some way, shape, or form be focused
on what you’re going to do is going to influence that organization, or how what you did in
your past influenced your organization or its markets or customers, increased its market
share, or whatever, more so than the bits and bites of what you did. That’s a huge deal. Now, at the lower levels, you’re probably
talking a little bit more about your role and how you did that effectively. As an executive, you have to speak about your
role in the context of how it influenced the organization. Okay, that’s number three. Number four, it is about how much, not how
many. It’s about how much, not how many. What do I mean by that? When you think about … and actually anybody
who’s out there that’s in my boot camp or in my resume writing workshop, or actually
any of the milewalk academy members because even the interviewing course is about this,
it’s always about the benefits that you achieved. It’s about the impact that you made. It’s less important about how exactly you
did it, but a lot of people at the executive level want to get hung up on how many people
they managed or how many groups they were in charge of, and that is much less important
than most people think, and if you think about it, even CEOs of large organizations only
have so many direct reports. You know, they got the CIO and the CFO and
the CMO, and chief people officer, or the chief of human resources, or whatever it might
be. There’s only so many immediate reports that
they have. Those reports have reports, and those reports
have more reports, and so on. So, I don’t want you to get to, to hung up
on how many people you managed, how big your organization was. I’m not talking about the dollars you managed
in EBITDA and profit margins and those kind of things, but I’m talking about people, effectively. You want to talk about the impact that what
you did had on the organization, or the outside world or its customers or its partners or
whatever. Number five … Where we at? Number five, it’s about their future, not
your past. It’s about their future, not your past. I just got done saying 90% of the interview,
right, needs to be focused where? Well, actually, this is another ninety-percenter,
because 90% of what you’re speaking about … So, before I was talking about company
and role, now I’m talking about past and future. 90% of the context of what you’re speaking
about needs to be about their future. If you are spending a substantial amount of
time speaking about your past, the interview is not going well. It’s not going well. When you speak about your past and you start
talking about exactly how you were doing things, the interviewer is in evaluation mode of you. Of you. When you start talking about their future,
you’re shifting the discussion so that they are less evaluating you and more imagining
what it would be like to have you leading an arm of their company. So, if you can talk about the future and how
you’re going to change it, and what you would do to change it, what needs to be changed,
how much of this, how you would go about it, and so on, I can envision what it would be
like to have you in my organization and the impact that you will have in changing it. That, in and of itself, will give me an indication
of your working knowledge of the past, and the things that you’ve experienced and what
that taught you, and the expertise it’s given you. If I’m hanging out in your past then that
means I’m not convinced that you know how to do this, so you want to constantly shift
the discussion to the future. You want to make sure that you’re talking
about situations in their environment that have yet to occur. That’s your yardstick. It’s not yet occurred, and whether it’s something
they desire and they already know because it’s in their strategy, or it’s something
they’re asking you about, “What would you do?” That’s okay, all that stuff’s cool, and if
that’s where your discussion is you know you’re in the right spot to score major points. Okay, let’s also … kind of in the same vein,
number six here, your sequencing. Your story sequencing. Now, stories, this is my terminology, but
basically any time you’re responding to a question where you have to respond for some
minutes at a time, where you have to tell a story about your past or their future, that’s
just story sequencing. So, just any kind of response that you’re
making to something that they asked you. Your sequencing is very, very important. It never should ever start from the bottom
and go up. You always need to start at the highest level,
and you need to talk about the macro viewpoints and then work your way down, and you as an
executive should never reach the bottom. You should never reach the bottom. You should get stopped about, I don’t know,
maybe two thirds of the way through. I’ll give you an example, we’ll hang out on
this one for a few minutes. It’s always important, and I mentioned this
in one of the earlier ones, that you want to be talking about the benefits and the impacts
that you’re making. Your stories should start either there or
at one step higher, so you want to be speaking into macro level: here’s what the goals were,
or here’s what the strategy was, or here’s what we were charted in doing, here’s the
impact that we had and here’s what we achieved. If you get to that spot, a great interviewer
who is interviewing you at the executive level will immediately shift you to the future,
and say, “Okay, how would you apply that to what we want to do here?” If they let you keep going down to, “Okay,
and here’s exactly how I did that, and then I did this, and then I did this, and then
I did this,” you know you want to start shifting them to the future. So, “Hey, this is what I did, and here’s what
I achieved. I’d love to know how I could apply that experience
to what you need me to do?” Move it. Move it. You control the interview and move it into
the future if you have to. If I’m chartered with building a sales organization,
“Hey, we want you to be the vice president of sales nationally or globally. Our charter is we need to grow revenue. We’ve got multiple products. We’ve got three products, and we are not sure
which one to take into the new markets,” maybe that’s their issue, and are looking for somebody
to come in and develop the products or sell the products or whatever, and now they’re
asking your opinion of how you’d go about doing that. So, when I say start at the macro level, what
I mean is it’s not, “Okay, I would start hiring salespeople, and I would move them into a
market,” and so on. That starting in the middle of the story. “Well, the first thing that I would need to
do is I would need to evaluate these products, and I want to look at the history and the
customer segmentation and so on. Then what we would do is we would look at
where those products are aligned in the US. Then what we would do is we would start, and
I would need to put salespeople in the right markets that aligned with those customers
who buy that product in that particular region. Then what I would do is …” and so on. That’s what I mean by starting it at the highest
level, so you almost, almost want to go back to the homework part, the research part, the
product development part, the service development part, whatever it may be, and if they have
a strategy in place and they say, “We know. We’ve already done that. Here’s what we would do.” Then just say, “Okay. Well, if you’ve decided that, then here’s
how I would go about executing that,” and so forth. So, your sequencing is really important. It has to start at the top and trickle-down. Strategy first. Evaluation, strategy, and then implementation. So, story sequencing is a big, big deal. If they start you with, “Well, how’d build
that sales organization?” you can start with the tactics. So, if they go to your history and they say,
“How’d you build your sales organization previously?” You need to go back all the way to the beginning
and tell them how the strategy was developed. It’s a big deal. It’s subtle, but it gets the interviewer knowing
that you’re looking at the right stuff first, and you’re not immediately going to what you
think the answer is because there are a lot of mistakes made because people make assumptions
about how they should grow this, market that, develop this or that. Okay, and number seven: multiple questions,
and I don’t mean you need to have a lot of questions. You do need to have a lot of questions because
there’s a lot of stuff you need to evaluate. I’m talking about you need to have a multiline
of questions for any area that you are going to be investigating. What do I mean by that? Well, I have my criteria of all the things
that make me happy. That’s the first thing that I need to do to
make sure that I know how to evaluate you as a company, and then from the criteria I
generate questions that help me understand whether you can satisfy my needs and the things
that are important to me. My needs fall into a couple different categories,
and I’m always trying to ascertain whether you are a good company, and whether you are
a good company for me. Those are two separate questions. They could be a great company and not a great
company for you, and they could be a great company for you and maybe just not a great
company as far as the market is concerned, or the way they treat their employees, or
whatever it might be, but you need to get answers to all of that. So, you line up your questions, but executives
need to be able to have a multi-part line of questioning for every question that they
ask, so when you ask a question as an executive, if I give you an answer and you move on to
the next question, what you’re telling me is you’re just kind of skimming the surface. You’re not really a great investigator because
no executive is going to be able … if the topic was worthy of you asking me to investigate
it for yourself, and I give you a one-word answer or a one sentence answer or something
that was very quick and you were able to shut that down, then you’re just kind of … you’re
puddle surfing here. You didn’t dive deep enough, and as an executive
you need to make sure you’re getting a complete suite of information to make educated decisions,
so you need to ask a question, and then as an executive you need to be prepared for every
possible response: Yes, no, maybe, I’m not sure, “Hey, we thought about it. Here’s what we were speculating.” Anything that could possibly come back at
you, then you need to have your next question lined up. That’s right, you need to have five variations
of your next question, and you need to know what those are, or you at least need to know
the flow of where you would take the discussion depending on how they would answer the question. So, when I would go into an interview, the
last time I went in for a job, or anybody that I was interviewing, I have all my questions,
and then I’d have their potential answers, and then I have my next questions, and so
on. What that is doing is it’s sending a message
that you are going to be a well-informed executive, and well-informed executives make educated
and good decisions most of the time. Sure, there’s things that can happen, but
still, it’s the subtle messages that you’re sending me. If you don’t have multi-part questions, then
I know you’re just skimming. You’re just skimming it, and you’re leaving
a lot of holes. You’re leaving a lot of holes for yourself,
so you need to make sure you got these multi-part questions. Now, the rest of these, eight through twelve,
these are really more characteristics, traits, and those kind of things, but this one here
— integrity, leadership, character, all that stuff — all your stories need to show how
you did this by example. Not what you commanded, but what you did for
your troops. Leaders build more leaders, they don’t build
more followers. So, how did you do that? Your stories have to be very clear on how
you lead by example, and what you did with your troops to make them love you, and going
to battle for you, and all that good stuff because you were on the front of the boat
getting splashed with the waves coming at you, or the arrows, whatever analogy you want
to use, but you got to make sure that if you’re going to get into how you lead, you need to
talk about how you lead by example, and it needs be very, very clear. That’s very important. Number nine is you’ve got to have good communication
skills. This goes both ways. Not just what comes out of your mouth, but
also your listening skills, and your ability to interact, and communication is not just
speaking and listening, it’s reading the verbal and nonverbal cues, it’s recognizing the situation,
it’s not just that you’re a great orator or that you can communicate or speak well. I know a lot of people that speak well. They sound great, and they’re terrible communicators. So, are you reading the room? Are you demonstrating that you are a good
communicator in every sense of the word? Actually, speaking of interview intervention,
I talk about your communication quotient. An effective and a high CQ, communication
quotient, is about an accurate exchange of information verbally and nonverbally, so that’s
what I’m talking about. Hey, don’t forget to get your interview intervention
book, by the way. All right, number 10, look the part. Please, look the part. Don’t go in dressed in goofy stuff. I wore my nice, comfy, black, favorite T-shirt
for you executives today. When you go into the interviews: suits, ties. Ladies, a good suit-skirt, I guess, or pants
is okay, but look the part. Be polished. Okay, I think I even shaved a little and showered
for you guys today. Just make sure you look the part, okay? It doesn’t matter what you look like physically,
but your appearance, that is totally within your control, should be dialed up pretty good. You need to look like you’re an exec as well,
and you need to talk like one, and I’m not just talking about the communication. Communication, itself, deserves an item, but
so does positive talk, as in no negative talk. Never should you ever utter a word that has
any negativity into it. I’m not saying you need to be inhuman. I’m just saying in an interview, when you
go in, everything that you’re focusing on need to be in a positive light. If you screwed something up royally and it
wasn’t your fault, I don’t care, “What did you learn? What did you do as a result of that? Why was that beneficial for you to experience?” Everything needs to be positive. I’m not just talking about don’t use negative
words. I mean, everything that has ever happened
to you in your life, no matter how miserable you might have felt at the time, there was
a positive outcome from that: the experience, what it taught you, how you applied it, and
how you reacted. That’s what I mean. So, positive talk in all its forms. I know I’m missing one here. Oop, here we go. Number 12 is confidence. Confidence. Got to have it. Got to have it. There should not be a hint of insecurity in
you. I’m not talking about bravado over the top. I just mean I’m confident. You can be humble and confident at the same
time. Just make sure that you are displaying that
confidence, you know good things are going to happen, you’re going to make them happen,
you take responsibility, and you’re confident that you can do the job and move the needle
in their company. Okay, so there you have the 12. I’m not going to go through all those. You can hit the replay on the recording. If you are loving this, do me a favor, make
sure you’re subscribed, hit the thumbs up-

50 thoughts on “Executive Level Interviews: 12 Steps to Win the Job

  1. Andrew LaCivita Post author

    Folks, this video is now public and open for business! Please let me know what is ailing your job search! Also, make sure to SUBSCRIBE to my channel so you can stay up to date on new videos every Tuesday AND Thursday as well as my WEEKLY (YES! WEEKLY!) LIVE OFFICE HOURS SESSIONS every Thursday. Hope to see you there!

    Reply
  2. Andrew LaCivita Post author

    So, apparently my wife wants me to hire someone to draw on my note cards. Think I need one??? 🙂

    Reply
  3. James Schultz, Ph.D. Post author

    Multi line questioning. Avoid puddle 🏄 Gold, Andy!

    Reply
  4. Abbi Winslow Post author

    Such great tips!! I think this is so helpful because there aren't a lot of videos for executives looking for jobs.

    Reply
  5. Michael Atkinson Post author

    One of the best videos on interviewing I've ever seen. Nice job Andy!

    Reply
  6. Vineca Gray Post author

    I listened to half of this before breakfast this morning and now I am back to wrap up some knowledge. I LOVE your 'story sequencing' step.

    Reply
  7. Lama Jigme Gyatso: the Rational Contemplative Post author

    the other 12 steps 😀

    Reply
  8. Connie Cotter Post author

    More great advice. Thanks Andy!! I highlighted "90% of focus should be on the benefits I achieved and the impact I made" along with "story sequencing". I will be focusing on all 12, with special emphasis on these two.

    Reply
  9. Deb Peters Post author

    Great advice – especially appreciated Andy's points about how to keep the interview focused on the future.

    Reply
  10. Dal Dhaliwal Post author

    Great video Andy, as always. Packed with great actionable advice and information. Thank you for sharing! 🙂

    Reply
  11. Bill Benoist Post author

    I mainly work with senior level and up and this video is totally spot on. And you're right, for a C-Level – it definitely needs to be 12 out of 12.

    Reply
  12. Adriana Girdler Post author

    Interesting point about everything being centered on the company rather than the role. I think this is something that people don't often think about, but it's important to be clear about how you're going to contribute to the company's overall vision/mission. Thanks for sharing another great video. Cheers!

    Reply
  13. Professor Heather Austin Post author

    Andy, these 12 steps to win the job are so great. Executive level interviews are intense. I've seen some last days! Thanks for sharing these senior management job interview tips.

    Reply
  14. Sharad Srivastava Post author

    Hi Andy, this one is so great knowledge. Thanks very much. Would appreciate if you can also publish something similar on middle and senior management as well.

    Reply
  15. tpgjes71 Post author

    Fantastic reminder and there seem to be something I learn every time I review this video… Thanks Andy!

    Reply
  16. Chandiwira Beza Post author

    I like how you convey the information .

    Basically you’re instructing people how to build a pitch of themselves and their capabilities and being well informed on how people can make a buying (in this case hiring situation. ).

    I am a career professional salesmen and once I’ve been given an interview for a position I’ve always landed the job .

    This is a great crash course for the talented and accomplished who may just not understand the smaller subtleties in how to win people over and influence them.

    Being a great interviewer will take you VERY FAR , even when on you might not be the most “qualified” applicant on paper.

    The truth is , a lot of us are talented and good at what we do but the trouble is so many people don’t know or understand an interview can only be successful with background knowledge you mention, enthusiasm , and directing people to the their own conclusion that YOU’RE the right person.

    I love that you touch on not just being a good speaker , but being effective . Feeling the interviewers energy , matching it , and listening to what they mean and not just what they ask so you can tell them what they need to know and NOT just what they might like to hear !

    It can actually be fun and exhilarating to be weighed and measured and any high performer is glad to take the challenge

    Reply
  17. mark . m Post author

    half of my bosses can't do anything you said, yet they are earning thousands. simply because of their skin colour.

    Reply
  18. Timothy Gordon Post author

    Right, 16:40 – communication is not just speaking or listening but also speaking Polish during the interview. Rozumiem.

    Reply
  19. Ashley Bell Post author

    I love your attitude and delivery. I have a huge interview for a job across the country and listening to you has made me feel so stoked!

    Reply
  20. Chinkyfist Post author

    My favorite part of all ur videos is the fact that u use cards!!! It helps me remember alot of things abt ur teachings.

    Reply
  21. Daniella Vulpe Post author

    These are amazing tips. Thank you so much!! Very helpful.

    Reply
  22. Archana Singh Post author

    I missed this…live streaming…I really needed…some direction…I am searching job from last 2months….after listening your videos..I get boost up..like ok that's the I was missing out and try to improve in that area….but results are still negative 😑

    Reply
  23. Vmsuccess Post author

    I have subscribed and you are truly providing relevant information. Everyone claims they are providing answers to our questions but that is not accurate.Everyone else provides puff pieces. I am so excited to listen to the rest of these videos. Thank you Andrew

    Reply
  24. Y Anonym Post author

    Can't even count the number of times I've had to re-watch this video! Always an 'aha!' moment on something you mentioned but completely forgot! Great vid, as usual!

    Reply
  25. My Maxims Post author

    Great video, very useful tips. One difference between executive level and non-executive level answers is how you talk about Business context and what you are focusing on. People at senior level have an ability to think at strategic level. So what is the strategic level of thinking? If you are asked to give examples of your strategic approach, you need to provide a longer time horizon and consider the implications and the unintended consequences.
    Don't focus too much on process or concept details. You will be perceived too technical and not strategic enough. If you address short term results and outcomes then you will be perceived more tactical than strategic.
    Second important thing is having multifunctional perspective. Make sure your focus and approach involves others and you consider implications of your decisions on other people and other functions.
    Third important thing is to demonstrate a good understanding of the cause and effect of a problem and show how you can find the root cause. This shows that your reasoning has some depth. Make sure you take your time to prepare examples how you solved real life problems.

    Reply
  26. Jennifer Anderson Post author

    Amazing video! This is a great example of how one person's passion and talents can positively affect others! So good!

    Reply
  27. scott soward Post author

    Excellent advice and tips, well done!

    Reply
  28. Citizen Kane Post author

    Wonderful video…. "Subscribed" 🙂

    Reply
  29. Armando Perez Post author

    Auto focus is annoying. Otherwise it was great content.

    Reply
  30. Aisha Parks Post author

    You need to give tips to interviewers because going into the nitty gritty on how you did things in the past is what they want to know, they are curious esp if the idea is amazing. They want the nitty gritty to understand your thinking.

    Reply
  31. Damon Gardner Post author

    You started reeling me in at 5. Liked it from there on, can't wait to check out more of your videos!

    Reply
  32. J F Post author

    Sir this is great advice! My interview is tomorrow and I feel prepared. Thanks!

    Reply

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