Top 10 Executive Interview Questions and Answers UK
Executive interviews differ from employer to employer depending on precise requirements for each role. At Executive Career Solutions, we frequently get asked about likely to be asked during executive interview questions answers. We advocate executives anticipating possible interview questions to help with preparation, confidence and performance simply because there are only a certain number of common questions employers can ask. Once potential questions have been identified, it is expected that executives will develop a strategy for answering such questions with clear examples and achievements that stand up to scrutiny. With this in mind, we have highlighted some of the most common questions likely to be used by executive recruiters during CEO / Executive level interviews.
Top Executive Interview Questions Answers
Tell Me About Yourself
This is an ice-breaker to get executives talking about themselves, where it is important to refine an elevator pitch covering key aspects of experience (brief summary outline), unique selling points, main strengthens / skills, qualifications / professional development and areas where candidates can benefit / add value employers most. The idea is to tailor a sales pitch covering main elements within a one minute timescale. Also, prepare a two-minute and 30-second sales pitch to give added flexibility during interviews. Useful article: The Perfect Elevator Pitch to Land a Job – Forbes.com (link disabled)
This asks executives about how they have developed ideas and ‘thought out of the box’ to create a clear vision for achieving key objectives. Then, there is an ability to translate plans into reality by driving forward strategy to achieve overall vision.
This looks for clear examples regarding strategic thinking, decision-making and guiding companies through periods of change, growth or capability development. There must be an element of business analysis to understand key drivers / core requirements matched to an external operating environment, plus setting priorities and giving companies clear stages of progression to achieve corporate objectives. Overall, this assesses how executives define, manage and execute the business planning lifecycle to gradually evolve corporations in the context of the entire organisation.
Growth & Business Development
Employers are looking at how executives evolve businesses to achieve planned growth or geographical expansion targets such as through entrepreneurship, commercial decision-making, routes to market, innovation strategies and matching capabilities to an ever-changing external operating environment through ongoing market / risk analysis. The includes M&A strategies, strategic partnerships, supplier collaborations and developing global sales / distribution networks.
The ability to manage strategic initiatives, business transition and long-term transformation of organisations to achieve objectives. This involves developing a clear vision, strategy roadmap and setting priorities to evolve, strengthen and build companies for long-term success. This may involve continuous improvement, operational excellence, organisational development, strategic transformation, turnaround strategies or major capital investments to help shape the future direction of the company. There may be specific examples of strategic initiatives or change programmes that are relevant here.
Innovative Thinking / Approach
Employers look for executives who can think imaginatively, bring a concept / idea into reality (entrepreneurial vision) and guide organisations on a journey to create a competitive advantage, innovate new products or doing something different in complex global markets. Innovation is an excellent differentiator for top executives, particularly in the R&D / Scientific, Technology, Engineering, Sales / Marketing or Manufacturing arena.
This is an opportunity to shine by highlighting main leadership qualities, what candidates can bring to employers and how executives have applied these skills / qualities within organisations. Focus on 4-5 main qualities and back each of these up with examples.
Top-Level Influencing / Negotiation
Influencing / negotiating / convincing at the very highest level within organisations are essential skills in the boardroom. This involves developing clear arguments, decision-making rationale and financial justification on plans, including courage to change direction, delivering clarity in ambiguous environments, listening to counter-arguments, managing conflict (politics) in a divided boardroom and bringing everyone together for sharing a common vision. Examples may include negotiating a new company vision, long-term roadmap, strategic partnerships, major deals / projects, building influential industry contacts, change programmes, capital investments, geographical expansion and so on. Essentially, anything that requires expert negotiation skills at C-level or with key stakeholders.
Strengths / Weaknesses
This is an opportunity for executives to sell key strengths, namely what they are best at. Be prepared to back strengths up with examples of how these skills have been applied. With weaknesses, it is necessary to only highlight relatively minor weaknesses and then demonstrate how executives have improved to overcome this weakness. Typically, have 3-5 strengths for adapting to different interview scenarios, whereas have 3 weaknesses prepared in advance.
Advanced Problem-Solving Skills
Leadership is very much about solving problems, planning ahead and selling a clear vision. Executives are faced with different problems, often in a very complex global operating environment. Overcoming challenges, evaluating situations, analysing business requirements and setting priorities must be placed into the wider organisational context, with clear achievements, impacts and outcomes from problem-solving. Where possible, try to choose examples with quantifiable achievements and tangible outcomes. Check out Jeff Haden: 14 Revealing Interview Questions (link has been disabled) for some more challenging executive interview questions answers for CEO / board-level positions that reveal more about the candidate.
CEO Interview Questions
Anticipating questions for an executive interview is massively important as it can effect interview preparation, performance and ultimate success. Preparing for an executive interview with effective answers to executive interview questions, looking out for tough executive interview questions and being aware of techniques used in executive interviews can give candidates that extra advantage. Check CEO job description and be aware that CEO interview questions will tend to be more strategic in focus. Always review likely executive interview questions answers as a good start point.