Questions for executive interviews

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This page offers you advice and examples of questions for executive interviews. This will help you in assessing the answers of executive candidates, asking executive candidates the right questions and an approach focused on achieving goals.

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The following examples of executive interview questions can assist you in identifying the best candidates for upper management positions and C-level positions. Identify the most appropriate questions to assess a candidate’s ability to lead a team in these important positions.

Asking executive candidates the right questions

You should look for the following traits when interviewing candidates for executive-level and C-suite positions:

Vision for the future
Executives are responsible for driving the company’s growth and participating in decision-making processes. Ensure that candidates are able to help your company achieve its long-term goals by asking them questions that reveal their understanding of the company’s needs.

Capacity to lead
Management and motivation of team members are the responsibility of employees in executive positions. People who can make tough decisions confidently, solve problems effectively, and set an example for others should be considered.

An approach focused on achieving goals

The results of the team are held accountable by the executives. Determine whether a professional has a track record of success by asking questions. For example, it may be necessary to consistently meet sales quotas, launch successful products, or conduct successful advertising campaigns. As a sample of interview questions that may be useful in your hiring process, here are some examples:

An example of an executive interview question

  • If you were asked to describe your leadership style, what would you say? In what situation have you had to change your style as a result of unexpected circumstances (e.g. tight deadlines or a high turnover rate)?
  • How should you provide constructive feedback to an employee who is underperforming? 
  • What is the purpose of a 360-degree performance review? What would your reaction be if a team member gave you negative feedback?
  • In your opinion, what is the most important piece of advice you would give to your team? In terms of time management or stress management, for example
  • What would you do if your department manager consistently rejected your ideas?
  • Give an example of a successful project that you managed from start to finish. Is there anything you would like to share about your challenges and how you overcame them?
  • Would you be able to inspire your team after a failure (e.g. losing a large client)?
  • Is it common for you to meet both your team leaders and the company’s executive management team on a regular basis? In preparation for these meetings, how do you prepare?
  • Please describe a time when your idea made a positive impact on the company. What steps did you take to ensure that the plan was implemented?
  • Please describe a time when you had to take quick action in response to a critical situation. If you had a team of members, how did you ensure that they learned and followed the action promptly?
  • If you have made any mistakes at work, please share them with me. How did that experience affect you and what did you learn from it? 

Assessing the answers of executive candidates

  • It is ideal for an executive to remain with your organization for a long period of time. When interviewing candidates, keep this in mind. Identify individuals whose career goals are aligned with those of your organization.
  • Candidates for executive positions usually have years of experience in their respective fields. Find out how they approach difficult situations and what their greatest accomplishments are by asking them to describe examples from their previous positions.
  • Participate in the hiring process with the entire executive management team of your organization. It is important to choose a professional who will fit into your team’s culture while bringing fresh ideas to the table.
  • A thriving workplace depends on diversity. Look for candidates with diverse backgrounds at the executive level.
  • It is recommended that you conduct two or three rounds of interviews in order to develop a complete profile of each candidate. Applicants for executive-level positions should possess a combination of in-depth industry knowledge and soft skills, such as team management, communication, and decision-making abilities.

Flags of red alert

  • An indication that you are stressed or uncomfortable. Candidates should be presented with hypothetical scenarios in order to test their ability to handle challenges. When real difficulties arise on the job, they may shut down if they appear overly stressed or have difficulty responding.
  • Preparation was lacking. In the case of candidates who are genuinely interested in an executive position, they will have conducted research on your company. It is imperative that they are familiar with your products/services, your competitors, and have a clear understanding of how they can contribute to your objectives.
  • Presented poorly. Your company is represented by its executives. The majority of their time will be spent communicating with clients, attending conferences, and managing internal teams. A C-level position may not be suitable for someone who lacks confidence and comes across as unprofessional or reserved.
  • An arrogant attitude. Executives make important decisions, but good executives are not known for their “know-it-all” attitude. Instead, they admit their mistakes, have a high level of emotional intelligence, and are fair and open-minded.
  • An untruthful response. Consider reconsidering advancing a candidate to the next hiring stage if you observe any signs that they are trying to hide or spin the truth. Leadership sets the example for the rest of the organization, so executives must be trustworthy, ethical, and professional.

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