Tag: executive job interviews
Interesting article. I think this is very valuable information for Executives who are interviewing for senior level positions. The takeaway I got was this: slow down and remember to use all of the senses (in this case, visual) in high level interviews to determine and discern what to do and say next. 🙂
The Secret to Negotiating Is Reading People’s Faces
My colleague Ardith of Ardith Rademacher & Associates sent me a really great article this morning that she said I could share with you! If you are in an interview and the position is attractive to you but your skills are more robust than what is required – these are VERY valuable tips for you to know so you can help your interviewers make good, balanced decisions. 🙂
Making a Case for the Overqualified
The overqualified pool is filled with variety of individuals. The large majority consist of those who have been laid-off. These candidate may or may not be older, but nonetheless wiser and more experienced than their competition. There is also a large percentage of people who are reentering the workforce. This group consists of well-educated folks who have taken time off to raise families, care for ill family members or needed a leave of absence for their own personal reasons. The smallest percentage of this group are people who are simply looking for a change. This could be a change of scenery, industry, work/life balance, etc.
There are pros and cons to weigh when considering an overqualified candidate.
Let’s start with the cons:
- They may be harder to train – Training in terms of software used or company basics will be the same as any new employee. However, bad habits and attitudes picked up at previous positions are hard to break.
- They may be intimidating to management – This can create uncomfortable management scenarios that will need to be addressed early and often.
- They may get really bored, really fast – Hiring and on boarding a new team member is expensive. It is even more expensive when that new hire either finds their dream job or gets really bored three to six months later.
With cons like that, why even consider an over-qualified candidate? Here are some pros to consider:
- They tend to be eager to put their skills to work – Whether it is relief that the job search is over or excitement for a position that offers better work/life balance, overqualified candidates tend to hit the ground running.
- They bring years of wisdom to the team – With all that experience, they can share best practices from previous positions that may benefit their new team. They can also become great mentors to their colleagues.
- They can become a long-term contributor – Overqualified candidates are great for stubborn vacancies. As both the company and employee get a feel for each other, this team member can take on a greater role or progress to higher levels as positions open. This is the ultimate win-win. The candidate has secured a position and the company has time to determine how they fit into their business.
As with all candidates, it is important to determine if they are a good fit during the interview process. Asking an overqualified candidate about their goals and why they applied for the position will be a large key in deciding if there are more pros than cons.
Have you come out of an interview floating on a cloud, but after a week or two still haven’t heard back from the company? Don’t despair. Here are some tips to get through the interview roller coaster.
Let me begin by saying that I have never walked through a job search with a SVP or COO and NOT had the subject come up of either a recruiter or a company not getting back to them promptly. So, let’s just establish that these things happen to the most wonderful of executives. The trick is how you manage the situation and keep your composure during the emotional highs and lows associated with most job transitions.
Follow Up Begins in The Interview
The challenge in deciding appropriate level of follow-up on your part is that some employers prefer you were very aggressive in your initiative, while others may find it off-putting. The solution requires getting more information up front during your interviews. One of the last questions you should ask in a phone or in-person interview is, “Where do we go from here?”
Get a Commitment
If possible, get a commitment to a day or week time frame when they will get back to you. If that day/week passes, then simply follow up with a polite, brief e-mail. You can even follow up with a phone call. Restate your excitement about the opportunity, the date they shared with you, and that you are following up with a courtesy call. If you don’t hear back, follow up again a few days later, just don’t get defensive. Maintain your composure at all times! Keep your phone and e-mail messages short and positive.
Demonstrate Your Interest
Another legitimate reason to follow up is because you’ve heard positive news about the company. Set up an alert in Google for the company, and when a press release or article is published about it, Google will send it to your e-mail. If the information has to do with growth, an award, or any relevant subject of discussion, send it to your contact(s) with a short, positive note. This is very flattering, puts the focus on them, and shows your initiative.
Keep it Positive
You should always follow up confidently, consistently, politely, and with positive excitement. Remember, your personality is being evaluated as if every message or e-mail you leave is a post-interview. Leaving the safety of any of these virtues can backfire on you, so be careful! It is human nature to take job search “rejection” or “silence” personally—even though we all know it is not personal—and many times, it is simply due to the very benign reason that no one has followed up with you. Keep in mind that we cannot judge accurately what might be happening on the other end.
You will be much better prepared to deal with the wins and losses associated with your job search (that are an inevitable part of the process) if you come up with two or three job search strategies to secure your interviews. Do those things consistently each week, while being as objective as you can about the end game. After all, if you list a bike on Craigslist and 3,000 people see it, does that mean you are going to get 3,000 calls? You will (maybe) get a less-than-1% response. This is good to remember in a job search. Do the right things consistently—and keep your pipeline full of potential opportunities.
Do you want a simple yet powerful way to secure bigger job offers?
It all starts in the interview, when the salary discussion is initiated.
If the topic of money arises in your first interview or in a phone interview, and you give up to much information – such as how much you made in your last position or what you are looking for in terms of compensation – then you have successfully steered the focus of the interview in the wrong direction.
When money is brought to the spotlight before a company has had time to get to know you and all of the value you can bring them, how much it will “cost” to hire you takes center stage. When this happens, you will have to work harder to compel your interviewers to see above and beyond your price tag.
Not only do you stand to lose your negotiating power by prematurely mentioning money, but the dollar figure you throw out will now serve as an immovable backdrop against the successful communication of your strengths and attributes.
It’s interesting how this works, but it is very true.
You might be thinking, “Well, how do I get around such a direct question about money in my interviews? After all, I don’t want to appear rude and hurt my chances of being invited back.” It’s wise to be considerate of these points; however you can successfully sidestep these questions and prolong discussions about money for a later interview by using the following simple techniques.
#1: Discuss Benefits
When you are asked how much money you are looking for, simply state that salary is important to you, but benefits are equally important; and since you are on the subject, would they share their benefit package with you? This is a simple diversion that is extremely effective.
#2: Discuss the Position
If asked how much compensation you are looking for or what you currently make, you might say, “Although I would be happy to discuss money with you, I was hoping to get a better understanding of the opportunity and give you a little more time to get to know me, in order to see if there is a potential fit.”
Follow this statement up by asking them “If that’s okay.” After all, you are declining to answer their question, so your diplomacy and polite response will help you to successfully sidestep this question until a later interview.
These two simple techniques will help you keep the interviewer focused on your skills and abilities as they relate to the position and set the tone and pace for a bigger and better offer later!
After coaching hundreds of professionals over the years, it has been enlightening to see and understand the various reasons people don’t get hired.
Here are a few mistakes you can easily avoid with a little practice:
Mistake #1: Too Arrogant
There is a fine line between the confidence you need to have and being overly confident in a job interview. If you catch yourself saying any of the following statements you might be you might be skating that line:
“I am in no rush.”
“I need XXX of money.”
“I am being interviewed by ___ other companies.”
State your achievements, but stay grounded, respectful and diplomatic to ensure the best outcome. Make certain your potential employer knows you are enthusiastic about the position!
Mistake #2: Too Laid Back
I am a big believer that things end where they begin and most employers would agree that first impressions are paramount. Failing to promptly return calls and send thank you notes are easy errors to make that have disastrous implications.
Mistake #3: Still Grieving
A tumultuous split, being fired, or being laid off, are all difficult situations that usually require a grieving process to get over. Denying yourself the time it takes to heal and move on can result in your being “less than your best” in your interviews. You might not even notice it, but unfortunately, your interviewers will.
Give yourself a little time. Have some kind of “moving on” ceremony (this helps tremendously), so when it comes time to talk about your past employment, you can do so without raising any red flags.
Mistake #4: Too Money-Driven
When you put the focus on the salary you will command too early in the interview, or before you are asked about money, then you are perceived as asking for money, not wanting to add value to the company. Keep the focus on the value you bring to your potential employer and the money almost always takes care of itself.
Mistake #5: Too Vague
The best way for you to pique the interest of potential employers from the start is to take a strong sales/consultant role. Meaning specifically, you must continue to peel back the onion of their needs and then speak to those needs. They will be the key reasons for wanting to hire you, so show them you understand what their challenges are and demonstrate you have the solutions. Failing to zero in on your potential employers’ needs can cost you the job.
By understanding how we are perceived in interview situations it’s much easier to circumvent potential roadblocks to your career success and the job of your dreams.
“So, where do you want to be in three to five years?”
This is one of those “trick” interview questions that answered wrong, could tank your candidacy rankings.
A general rule of thumb when interviewing is that you always want to answer trick questions with short answers. The reason is twofold:
- You don’t want to risk opening up a can of worms, rambling, getting nervous or defensive, etc.
- You want to minimize the time you spend answering tricky interview questions so that you can spend the majority of your time speaking to your strengths and aptitudes as they match what your interviewer is looking for!
So memorizing short answers to the top three or four of these questions is a very wise move. I consider this one to be at the top of the list.
It used to be that the seemingly correct answer to this question was:
“I want to have your job,” or “I want to sit where you are sitting!”
However, now that answer is viewed as too coarse and not politically correct.
Another pitfall to watch out for with this question is that you probably won’t know if your potential employer is interviewing you for a position that is prime for promotional opportunities, or if they want someone solid in the role for many years.
Rather than guess at what they are thinking, here is a completely safe (even fail-proof!) answer you can give:
“Well, I would expect to be advancing based on my job performance and taking on additional responsibilities.”
You can even add:
“And I would anticipate being appropriately compensated for it.”
You could also say:
“Since we are on the subject, can you tell me where you see the growth of this company/position in the next several years?”
Not only is this a great answer, but you can follow it up with a great question! You will look engaged, enthusiastic and interested in the company and the position – a triple threat!
Remember, employers will pay more for someone who markets themselves well. This includes both a well-designed and targeted resume, as well as in-job interviews. Why? Simply because that is who they end up wanting more!
Armed with this simple response, you will have successfully sidestepped a slippery trick question and taken a big step closer to a great offer!
Do you think selling yourself in a job interview is “selling out?”
I hear this from clients from time to time: “I hate the idea of marketing to prospective employers. I am just me. I shouldn’t have to ‘sell myself’ to get a job!”
I think the problem is that our definition of marketing conjures up feelings of going against our authentic selves. After all, if someone doesn’t like us for who we are, then the job probably isn’t suited for us anyway, right?
Let me offer another perspective on selling yourself to a potential employer: when you are able to communicate your strengths in a way that compels others, you are doing yourself and them a great favor. After all, you can’t help a company that doesn’t hire you.
To boost your “know, like and trust” factor in job interviews, it’s vital you know how to encourage potential employers to hire you in a way that’s ethical, full of integrity and authentically you.
The more you learn and understand how to truly “sell” yourself, the more you will attract the interest of employers, receive bigger and better job offers, and feel confident communicating the multiple ways you can help potential businesses get the results they want and that only you can deliver. Then everyone gets what they both need and desire.
Below are three tips use can use in your very next job interview.
Tip #1: At the beginning of the interview, ask what the potential employer is looking for in a star candidate.
As you casually jot down what they share with you, pay attention to those key words and phrases that match what you love to do the most. Let’s say for example you are a marketing manager who is an expert at product launches; they mention they just had a problem with their latest product launch and are looking for help there. Circle that challenge! You have just been given a BIG gift by your interviewer!
Tip:2 Dig by asking more questions about their challenge.
Utilize the gift you have just been given and ask more questions about their product launch challenge such as:
- Why do they think they were not successful with their product launch?
- Who has tried so far to fix the problem?
- What would it mean to them if the problem was fixed?
Tip #3: Seed the interview by frequently mentioning your value in terms of your product launch expertise.
If you are a marketing expert, you will frequently share the results of your marketing efforts throughout the interview.
Plus, you can mention plenty of stories that highlight results you have achieved. The best ones clearly paint a before and after picture (and the worse the better, so don’t hold back). Think of all the problems, challenges and dire situations with past product launches with previous companies that you have taken on and how great things are now that you have helped them.
BONUS TIP: Make THEM an offer they can’t resist.
The point is to create an “offer” that’s so irresistible, your interviewers think, “We have to hire this person!”
To do this, you need to offer something they believe they can’t get anywhere else. Be creative!
Continuing with the product launch example, you could offer to fix the problem within a certain time frame. Or, as part of your interview, come in for a couple hours and evaluate the product launch in more detail. Then you could offer some solutions (don’t give too much away when you do this though; they have to hire you for that!).
Here are some additional examples:
- One of my clients quickly received a robust offer because he promised to produce at least two potential solutions to a challenge the company was facing within 60 days.
- As part of her interview process, another client set up a 1/2 day, on-site observation of the potential employer’s media company. She then presented an outline of 10 ideas to improve their work environment and boost their ratings. They offered her a whopping 100K over what she had been making previously. All this, even after she was let go from that previous position. I love it.
You will benefit from shifting your thinking if you look at selling from the vantage point that you must be disingenuous, or that to “win” someone else must lose.
When you unburden yourself from these limiting beliefs, you will instantaneously feel more free to communicate to your interviewers how you can authentically help them. By doing so, you will be removing the obstacles (including money, time and your competition) that might otherwise stand between you and the job offer(s) you want.
At the CEO level, your career transition landscape has a unique terrain: there are fewer C-level positions, they come up less often and each has its specific requirements. As a smart CEO, you will first plan your upcoming transition by defining and writing down your wants, needs, career goals and driving motivators. You will want to layer in some due diligence respective to the short and long term economic growth and stability of the industries you have in your sights. The reason this due diligence is so critical is because today’s leadership resume must be written to what you wish to do moving forward vs. a chronological list of what you have done.
Demonstrating you can communicate your focus, your purpose and your value inspires confidence and will attract the positions you wish to explore.
Once you have a plan in place, this is the bull’s eye that you can now create and design your CEO resume for. A primary complaint from C-level executives, and one of the major issues with C-level executive resumes, is that they contain too much information. You may find that you have done and achieved so much in your career, you can’t find the objectivity needed to understand what to leave in and what to leave out of your executive leadership resume.
As a CEO, you need to communicate certain things in your resume that demonstrate your value in a C-level role to potential companies. In addition, you may be interviewed by a board of directors, and often in these cases, they like to see an executive biography in addition to your resume.
Hiring a professional resume writer to help craft a CEO resume can not only serve as a huge weight off of your shoulders, but bring you a substantial ROI in many ways, including:
- Helping to present yourself in a highly professional polished manner.
- Helping to showcase the metrics of your accomplishments.
- Helping to communicate the value that you bring to the table.
All of these benefits can and do have a positive effect on your interviews and offers. Regardless of who writes your CEO resume, there are two critical factors you must not miss.
The first is to write to the positions you are focusing on. You can start this process by finding 2 or 3 representative positions and then literally highlighting the keywords and phrases in those positions that match you. From this you will be able to see running themes and gain clarity on your own personal branding (what you are attracted to) as well as understanding what keywords and phrases to layer in.
The second is to be sure you are speaking to the needs of the companies with whom you have defined represent ideal positions for you. At the CEO resume level, it is a mistake to use an old resume or a 6-page resume which may contain task-oriented details from past positions you held 15 or 20 years ago. At this point in your career everything needs to be recalibrated. Older positions may be placed in a “Past Career Highlights” section and given a brief nod with perhaps one notable accomplishment listed. For more recent positions, again, be sure to omit any task-driven details and concentrate on leadership skills. You may wish to emphasize leadership skills such as your visionary ability, how you empower organizational change, drive profitability through developing and initiating business goals, provide overall corporate direction, and inspire core teams across various divisions and reinforce corporate branding.
If you find yourself unsure of what accomplishments of yours to highlight, simply refer back to the ideal career positions you unearthed. Whatever they are asking for, those are the skills you match and reflect back to them using quantifiable accomplishments wherever and whenever you can.
If these basics are not reflected in your CEO resume, it could cost you a job interview or offer. You don’t have to list your entire detailed career history in your leadership resume. Simply present a polished document that shows what kind of a CEO you could be to their company.