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Ace The Executive Interview: Strategies for Leaders (Part 2)
Sharon Graham, CPRW, CEIP, CRS, CIS

Following up on Part 1 in our last newsletter, here are some additional strategies that you can use to ace the executive interview.

Focus on Achieving Immediate Results

Years ago, it was common to be asked by an interviewer about your long term prospects because loyalty to one organization was valued quite differently than it is today. Organizational values have moved to favour speed over stability. Most organizations today are looking for leaders that can produce results quickly.

Since these employers tend to value immediate results over company allegiance and longevity, it is in your best interest to focus on what you can do immediately upon hire. In your discussions, use examples of how you resolved issues and instituted positive change, in a decisive way. Demonstrate how you produced results that impacted the bottom line within a short period.

Concentrate on Creating Organizational Synergy

Years ago, the ability to build solid teams and change corporate culture in a systematic, long-term process were of utmost importance. This is still important today, but because of our fast-paced environment, it is equally important to be able to create teams with the flexibility and adaptability to deal with change inside and outside the organization.

Show how you can help the organization to deal effectively with the constantly changing business environment. Demonstrate your ability to create synergy and motivate individuals and departments to work together no matter what comes their way.

Show How You Manage Major Transformations

Prospective employers are looking for leaders that will build on and improve their organization. You must be able to show the ability to transform the organization and lead it into a strong and healthy future.

Our business environment is in a constant state of flux. Many organizations are continuously undergoing major transformations in the form of mergers, acquisitions, centralization, decentralization, downsizing, upsizing, restructuring, and so forth. In order to address this need effectively, you will need to deliver some stories that outline your ability to plan and lead organizational change initiatives. Highlight how you can institute stability during a state of change, all the while maintaining strong financial performance.

Appreciate the Power of Technology

Development in technology will not be slowing down anytime soon. It is likely that you will need to show how you can exploit appropriate technological advances to improve the company's market position and take advantage of emerging business opportunities.

Since your interviewer will be more interested in the “big picture,” rather than focusing on your personal technical skills, use examples of your achievements to demonstrate that you are comfortable with technological change. Show how you can harness technology to meet the organization's needs and deal effectively with the bombardment of technical information.

Answer Unasked Questions

Many interviewers have difficulty asking appropriate questions to leaders, so if you feel that there were some points left unsaid, you must find a way to bring them up. Know what information you want to communicate and make sure to answer any questions that you feel should have been asked.

If there is a point that you would like to bring up, you can ask a question related to that area. When you receive your response, you can follow up by introducing your point. In addition, you can certainly take the initiative to indicate to the interviewer that you have some additional details to share with them. Your prospective employer will want to know all the pertinent information to select and appoint an effective leader.

Take Advantage of Professional Services

There is no doubt that you must conquer the executive interview to open up the doors to the next phase of your professional career. Many executives leverage the expertise of a professional interview strategist to enable them to articulate their value. By partnering with an interview strategist, you will be well positioned to receive, evaluate, and accept a top-notch employment offer!

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Sharon Graham is a certified employment interview strategist, executive career coach, and author of Best Canadian Résumés. She assists job seekers though her consulting firm Graham Management Group, and is executive director of Career Professionals of Canada. You can reach Sharon by e-mailing

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