Preparation is vital to secure your next position as top manager and CEO (and often overlooked). It hurts me when experienced and talented candidates succumb under the two most common mistakes: overconfidence and under preparation. Use these insights even if you are not actively searching or don't need to shift gears to a new position or company. They will prepare you to understand how to create opportunities for your colleagues and team - one of the three top skills requested from CEOs and top managers in the coming years. This article is the second part of the Executive-Level interview preparation. You got the burning questions interviewers will ask and how to answer them. Now you can learn about proper preparation to avoid the most common mistakes CEOs and top managers showcase in interviews. All are shared from my Executive Search Consultant expertise.
CEOs apply for new positions in three scenarios:
Bias no. 1: The "invitation entreé" often translates into "under preparation"
Being approached or invited doesn't mean you don't need to prepare. Let alone if you're actively searching for job opportunities. Here is the thing: either for lack of time, genuine interest, or overconfidence, I often meet underprepared executive candidates - even though they may be great interviewers themselves.
Bias no. 2: Being a great interviewer doesn't make you a great candidate
First, you must change hats and clear your head from assumptions and expectations - which often requires humbleness and a second pair of eyes. Top career coaches and executive search experts are that second pair of eyes. Use them well to prepare yourself.
Is this a yes? Then, move ahead.
Understand the competition, environment, trends, and challenges:
What information in your CV supports you in the new role?
A concise introduction is a critical piece. Seizoned candidates need help zooming out and having a complete picture of all available possibilities. As an Executive Search Consultant , my role is to blow your mind and guide you in a direction aligned with your motivation, experience, skills, and personality.
At this point, it can be helpful to recap how executive-level candidate search runs. The following is a general framework that can help you understand touch points and how to make the most out of each phase.
Touch points between the company, the executive search agency, and the candidate:
In our executive search agency, we provide:
I stand for interviews with candidates lasting 60-90 minutes for top management roles. People usually "shine in all colors'' after an hour, and all parties can make the best decisions.
I strongly recommend you maximize your chances of success by doing the following:
If you feel something is off in their response, be brave and ask them: Would you like me to elaborate on this topic? Asking will serve as an example of how you handle discomfort and your communication skills<.
If you feel something is off, check it. For example, are the interviewers clear with questions and respectful? Are they paying attention to engagement traits? What happened to your predecessors? Why did they fail? How will they cooperate with you?
Don't be blind by a shiny opportunity - especially if you long for this specific one. I've mentioned it twice, but I can't stress it enough.
When I ask candidates to describe themselves, I observe the flow in their answers and their starting point: do they explain who they are, their values, and their loved ones, or jump to their professional skills? It gives me an idea of what´s relevant for them at this particular moment.
Your personality counts as much as your experience
Many CEOs are into "doing, doing, doing" to achieve this or that, rather than "being": only a few talks about how they perceive things/events or feel about them.
A person's personal goals also inform me about their self-awareness, self-leadership, and self-knowledge. Do they talk about growth, continuous learning, and curiosity? About their past results and impact? Do they act with compassion and integrity and mention the importance of their teams? Also very informative whether they use "me, me" versus "we have, we tackled" to describe changes, improvements, and achievements.
The two more relevant traits are:
Personality traits give a perspective about how you will kick off your new role, how your first hundred days will look, how you will likely act, or provide insights into your leadership and management style and potential risk areas.
A big part of the final decision is about the cultural match or need.
As an executive search consultant, I present the final three candidates to the company. The three meet the requirements and responsibilities of the role and are an excellent match to the company's culture. However, they differ in their personality, approach, and how they function in a team.
I use the PCM model personality profiling and the deep dive interview to support my recommendations. Same system NASA has operated for over 30 years. You can read more about it and get your PCM profile and profiling interview here.
My consultation hour is always open to answer questions and guide you through.
I'm the founder of BOC Institute, one of the renowned consulting and executive search agencies for international companies operating in Slovenia and South-East Europe.
I coach CEOs and top managers 1:1 worldwide. I'm here to save you time, energy, and money through your objectives, decision-making, and leadership development. I understand we can change the world one coaching session at a time!
Do you feel like having a call? You can reach out here and let me guide you from there.
Simona Špilak www.simonaspilak.com
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